THAR HE BLOWS IN NANTUCKET-Democracy Yankee Style by Evangeline Morphos

THAR HE BLOWS IN NANTUCKET - Democracy Yankee Style

by Evangeline Morphos

Donald Trump made a $50,000 a head campaign stop on Nantucket island yesterday, Saturday, August 6.

Nantucket, a tiny island off the coast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, was incorporated in 1671. For most of the 18th century, Nantucket was the seat of a thriving whaling industry in America and one of the richest places in the world. When whaling declined, so did the fortunes of the island. In mid-20th century, Nantucket revived as a summer vacation spot, when the local population swells from 10,000 to 50,000.

These days, Silicon Valley super-stars, Hollywood celebrities, and best-selling authors crowd the island in summer. During July and August, the island is said to have one of the highest concentration of billionaires in the world.

But this August afternoon, there was one self-proclaimed billionaire who was definitely unwelcome.

The local paper, The Inky Mirror (The Inquirer and Mirror) published details of the visit--including the names of the hosts, and the location of his visit.

Nantucket Inquirer and Mirror reported on the protests.

On Nantucket you are never sure of anyone's politics. Earlier this summer, like most summers, people crowded onto beaches and waterfront restaurants serving lobster rolls and fried clams, and avoided talking politics. John Kerry lives on the island, but there are still a number of "Romney" bumper stickers that cling to backs of cars in the Yacht Club parking lot.

The threat of Trump's visit seemed to change all this.

Almost immediately signs and notices began to circulate. A protest rally was scheduled at the entrance to the private road where the event was to take place.

One shopkeeper showed me one of the notices, that she kept behind the counter of her store; and I heard whispers about it.

At 2:30 we were supposed to show up on Polpis Road, just as it turns off to Quaise Pasture Rd—the site of the event.

Polpis is a pretty country road that links the Rotary of Nantucket with the small village of S'conset—the furthest Eastern coastline of the United States. In the 19th century cod fishermen had built ramshackle cottages in the heart of the small village. Today they are covered in rambling roses, and furnished in mid-century modern chic. Along the bluff, huge homes overlook the water.

As I approached the meeting spot, there was a line of cars—at least two hundred--parked along the bike path in a single row. I got out of my car and started to walk the quarter mile toward the crowd. I passed Fiats and work-trucks, Porsches, run-down station wagons, and not a few mini-Coopers (a real plus when trying to parallel park in town.) Many cars, like mine, had the familiar sticker of a local car rental place.

Hundreds of people had lined the road on both sides. Two policemen exchanged pleasantries with the crowd, and made sure that traffic could pass.

Protestors in Nantucket

This was about as diverse a group as could be assembled on Nantucket—Aspen Institute baseball caps mixed with Chicken Box work hats; broad- brimmed straw kept the sun out of many women's eyes, and (most diversely) Red Sox and Yankees caps nodded genially side by side. Year-rounders, summer people, older citizens and kids had all showed up.

As traffic continued down the road, several signs asked the cars to "Honk for Hillary." Almost every car, honked, waved and cheered. A gardening truck with several young people in the back drove by waving a large American flag and honking loudly.

People greeted one another—it's a small town, after all.

A young woman I had seen at the farmer's market stall that morning came up and gave me a hug. "I started to bike here, as soon as I saw Trump's black helicopter over-head, " she said.

One woman had sawed out a giant wooden whale and painted "Trump Blows" along the side.

Captain Ahab is in the mind of people in Nantucket.

Other signs were elaborately painted with oil or water colors, and a few had been printed that day in giant font on computer paper. One father orchestrated his family to line up in front of the road--each person held a giant letter that spelled out SHAME.

The people had gathered, not only to protest Trump, but also to confront their fellow-citizens for supporting him. We were outraged that Trump felt he could find support here—on our island.

By 2:45 the guests were expected to arrive, and secret service agents asked the crowd to move away from the entrance and go across the street.

A trickle of S.U.V.s started to turn into Quaise Pasture Rd. These were the people attending the Trump fund-raiser. They were met with chants of "Shame, Shame, Shame…."

One woman in a bright yellow jeep, embarrassed by the crowd, drove back and forth across the entrance three times before deciding to turn in.

A few Trump supporters had parked off to the side and were walking to the event. The men were dressed in summer uniform—khaki or pastel Bermuda shorts, and dark blue blazers. The women teetered along the dirt road in sherbet-colored heels and white pants.

A quiet buzz began when one man started down Quaise Road. "Is that Sean?" someone behind me asked. Others were echoing disappointment—"What's he doing there?" He was someone clearly known about town—and liked.

As Sean walked about 30 yards down the path toward The Trump event, a chant of "Shame" was about to begin. He turned around to face the crowd and suddenly unfurled a huge "Hillary" banner! He was about to drape it across the entrance gate, but was ushered across the road—politely—by the Secret Service. Smiling, Sean walked into the crowd joining his relieved friends.

Not many more guests showed up, and it was clear that Trump had already arrived by another route.

The crowd waited close to an hour and a half, until, finally,Trump's entourage left the event. People booed, at the black Escalades, waved their signs, and then went home.

Why had we all come out? It was a beautiful day—the kind of last-weeks-of-summer warm and sunny day when everyone is at the beach. A lot of people had left work, or closed their shops for the afternoon.

In the lull of a summer's day, there were at least 300 people on this small island who felt that they had to turn out and be heard—that they had to express outrage at Donald Trump. Several people at the rally said that this was the first political event they had attended. One young man I spoke with said that his friends—Bernie supporters—were now becoming active for Hillary.

They felt that they wanted be in solidarity with their community. They also wanted to hold people accountable for supporting Trump. "SHAME!" This is a term that is about violating a community—violating a civic and moral standard. Shame implies that there are public consequences to your actions.

"SHAME" is what they carried on placards and "SHAME" is what they chanted.

Trump left Nantucket in 2 hours, apparently off to Osterville, on Cape Cod, and to a Koch house. Another world.

I can't help but feel that the citizens of Nantucket—steeped in the mythology of Moby Dick --were subliminally reacting to a pathological leader, like Ahab, who would destroy everyone around him for the sake of his private obsessions.

For the record - Hillary comes in Nantucket on August 20th. See you then.


August 7,2016

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