Lynette Myhren of Monument feels like she’s been demonized since the election. Her Democratic friends don’t want to speak to her, though she’s happy to still be friends with them. Her niece even posted proud photos of her young daughters holding “hateful” anti-Trump signs at the Women’s March.
“We have to love them back,” responded Susie Guerra of Lakewood, wearing a gold Trump hat. “We have to love them back.”
For the roughly 200 people who gathered on the steps of the Colorado State Capitol at noon Monday for the Spirit of America rally, the last several weeks haven’t been a time of chaos and fear but one of hope and inspiration.
“I believe he’s chosen to God,” Guerra said of President Donald Trump. “… I believe he’s a real president. He’s not a puppet of some political agenda.”
The theme throughout the rally was that the president is fulfilling his campaign promises and will bring about a more prosperous nation for everyone.
Devin Camacho, the 19-year-old chairman of the Otero County Republicans, said he was grateful to have a president who understands that Hispanic Americans have the same concerns about taxes, regulations, education and public safety as all other Americans.
“I am sick and tired of my heritage being used as a political pawn by the left,” he said.
One of the hosts asked the crowd how many people were there. The crowd roared as she went through 50, 150, 250, but grew less certain as she reached 350. “Maybe,” one man said.
She said she was going to put the number at 350 to 400 to make sure the media gets it right. Like the crowd, I think that number is too high. I’d put the number around 200.
Dave Petteys, who calls himself as a counter-jihad activist, described a global Islamic threat to the U.S. that goes back to the founding of the Muslim Brotherhood.
“They don’t have to wear a suicide vest” to attack America, he said. “They just have to be here, make demands and consume our vast resources.”
He asserted without evidence that the Muslim Brotherhood controls 80 percent of the mosques and Islamic centers in the U.S.
I asked Myhren and Guerra if they agreed with that sentiment.
“People need to be more aware of what’s being taught in the mosques and not just the mosques but the Islamic centers,” Myhren said. It might not be everyone or even a majority, but she believes “sedition” is being spread.
Sandra Russell of Palmer Lake said she had something to say about that.
“If you are going to assimilate, you would be changing yourself,” she said. She sees immigrants demanding that Americans change their customs. What would assimilation look like? Speaking English and eating American foods. She brings up a woman who was fired from her dental hygienist job because she wore hijab.
“If that’s a religious requirement, they should stick to jobs where that won’t be an issue,” she said.
There were chants of “Lock her up!” and “Build the wall!” but also assertions of the value of diversity and the idea that Trump’s policies would be good for business and good for all Americans, regardless of race and religion.
Caspar Stockham, who ran unsuccessfully against U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette, a long-serving Democrat who represents Denver, said Republicans need to stop being on the defensive and go on the offensive.
“We have the message,” he said. “We’re the good guys. Why don’t we start acting like it?
Republicans, he said, need to get good at “sales and marketing” and take heart from the massive protests against the president.
“I really like my liberal progressives mad and protesting and not in charge,” he said.
Andy Peth, co-founder of the Party of Choice, spoke of the movement as one of love and one that would lift up all Americans. He proudly adopted the label of “deplorables” and said the deplorables are “the good guys.”
“Who are we?” he yelled.
“The good guys!” the crowd responded.