Reaction to Trump’s Minnesota Visit Could Portend Genuine Civic Unrest in 2020

If ‘Minnesota Nice’ is this rowdy when Trump visits, what does that mean for the rest of the battleground states in 2020?
October 21, 2019 Updated: October 21, 2019


I’m a Minnesota native and can attest that it’s not for nothing that we’ve earned the nickname “Minnesota Nice”—you’d be hard-pressed to find more genuine, kind, hard-working people, on the whole.

Yet the debacle before President Donald Trump’s rally in Minneapolis on Oct. 10—which included the mayor trying to prevent the visit altogether, seemingly because of partisan politics—the enormous, exuberant crowd that attended his rally, and the visceral reaction from Antifa afterward, could portend genuine civic unrest from now until 2020 and beyond.

Mayor Attempts to Prevent Trump Rally

A campaign rally in Minnesota is hardly an abnormal activity for an incumbent who needs to win a “purple” state. However, the campaign almost didn’t make it, because of efforts to prevent the visit.

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, a Democrat, tried to tack on exorbitant security costs to the Trump campaign. Last week, on Fox News just before the rally, police union leader Lt. Bob Kroll said that Frey was using the cost of Trump’s visit to try to “bully” the president into staying away from Minnesota.

Trump’s campaign manager, Brad Parscale, tweeted concerns in agreement with Kroll, saying that Frey upped the cost of security—$530,000—to host the event at the Target Center in a political ploy to prevent Trump’s visit.

Fox reported that the increased fee apparently came after a “new rule barring off-duty officers from appearing in a uniform at political rallies or events,” but critics said the timing was too convenient. The mayor had originally required that the Trump campaign pay $530,000 ahead of time, but the company that runs the Target Center rescinded that demand. The Trump administration believes the stunt was intentional.

“It was another effort to make this impossible to happen,” said Kayleigh McEnany, Trump 2020 national press secretary, according to CBS. “Really, it doesn’t matter what the mayor says at this point. The Target Center is a private vendor, they have a contract with the campaign, they are going to honor that contract.”

Eventually, the city agreed to take on the costs. (Frey said he would require a reimbursement, and explained why in an op-ed in the local Star Tribune.)

Trump did attend the rally, which was packed, but the active campaign to prevent his visit is important. It could signify how torn battleground states will be in 2020: Minnesota is technically one of several battleground states and will play a key role.

Trump lost Minnesota in the 2016 presidential election, but only by a couple of percentage points. He remains quite popular in a state that has boasted Republican governors in addition to far-left liberal politicians such as former Sen. Al Franken, former Rep. Keith Ellison, and Rep. Ilhan Omar.

Rally Marred by Protests, Antifa Violence

Despite roadblocks, Trump attended his rally, and it was, by most definitions, successful. Yet before and after the rally, it was also countered by protests, riots, and Antifa violence.

The juxtaposition is significant for a state such as Minnesota, where some districts have elected the likes of Michele Bachmann, a conservative Republican, and others have elected Ilhan Omar, a far-left Democrat, with little fanfare either way. As I said, there’s a reason that Minnesotans got the reputation for being “Minnesota Nice.”

On one hand, Trump spoke to a packed Target Center, which is no small feat: The arena can seat 20,000 and there were supposedly people in overflow rooms, though an exact count was difficult to determine. To put that in perspective, a 2005 U2 concert packed the Target Center with roughly the same number of people. The place was a sea of red MAGA apparel, and attendees were excited to hear Trump in person. Not bad, but rallies don’t electoral votes make.

On the other hand, riots and Antifa reared their ugly heads before and after the rally, enough to cause concern, make the news, and circulate on social media. Even though the riots only appeared in pockets throughout the city, it’s clear that Minnesotans are either passionately for or against Trump, much like the other battleground states.

Yet this didn’t happen in Minnesota with Obama or Bush—the excitement and the riots—with such obvious polarity.

Civic Unrest Showing Itself in Various Ways

As the 2020 election cycle nears, the country has observed an increasing amount of civic discord online and in real life. To be clear, the two shouldn’t be weighed the same, but the internet does inspire and inform people to become a part of or speak out against various movements.

From ghoulish, dark memes surfacing, showing Trump murdering famous journalists, to places including Charlottesville, Virginia, and Oregon where Antifa has reared its ugly head, people are reacting to political discourse differently, more viscerally. A 2018 Pew Research poll says that about half of Republicans and Democrats say just talking about politics with people who disagree with them can be stressful.

Whether it’s trolls or bullying on the internet, or physical riots in the street a la Antifa, the consequences are different, but they all point to a significant amount of civic unrest, caused by an increasing polarization of political views in the country. Combine these things with how Trump’s visit went in Minnesota—it was either a disaster or a victory, depending on political perspective—the passionate reaction both for and against Trump could foreshadow a shift in civic discord.

The United States is accustomed to passion over a cause, such as the suffrage movement, civil rights, or abortion, but this kind of intensity over a man and his policies is a somewhat less common, although not an altogether nonexistent phenomenon. This isn’t to say that “this is the most important election of our time,” which is what commentators tend to say every four years, but it’s obvious that the times are shifting, and it’s important to note how, why, and what this could mean for the future.

Gregg Peppin, a Republican consultant based in Minnesota, said in an email that he, too, thought the reactions were “strong” but unsurprising, given the times.

“The president’s visit confirmed that Minnesota will be a battleground state, and provided a massive jolt of excitement, energy, and enthusiasm to his supporters. While Minnesota historically hasn’t been in the mix when presidential campaigns do their electoral college number-crunching, it’s obvious that has changed. If Democrats didn’t believe that before, they do now,” he said.

Nicole Russell is a freelance writer and mother of four. Her work has appeared in The Atlantic, The New York Times, Politico, The Daily Beast, and The Federalist. Follow her on Twitter @russell_nm.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.