Georgia Adventure: A Night Of Southern BBQ With Cardboard Trump & His Wealthy Cult


By Tom Balistrieri
The Commoner Call (6/21/19)

I love the Deep South. Though born and bred in Wisconsin and currently living in Massachusetts I have to say, I love the Deep South. Having lived in Tampa for ten years doesn’t really count but living in Starkville Mississippi for three years does. I grew to love Southern charm, Southern temperament, the Southern concept of time, Southern drawls and Southern food.

So on this current business trip to Georgia it was only natural to meet with old friends and visit a real Deep South BBQ rib joint located about an hour outside of Atlanta. Upon driving in to the parking lot of the restaurant, that has been a staple of the small community for over 50 years, I could smell the hickory smoked BBQ and just about taste the home-made slaw, biscuits and macaroni and cheese.

The parking lot was jammed with pick-up trucks of all makes and …well now wait … not all shapes, sizes, years and conditions. All the pick-up trucks were large, brand spanking new and clean as a whistle. They weren’t plantation trucks or work trucks. And all of them had Trump stickers plastered on the back bumper.

Photos courtesy of Tom Balistrieri.

I woke up a bit last night. Hope you do too. We can’t be complacent. The Trump lovers surely aren’t…and that is how they won the first time.

I didn’t concern myself with the lot full of pick-up trucks. I was mostly concerned that we’d have to wait in line for a table. Entering the BBQ joint my friend and I were met with the rich aroma of spicy sauce and BBQ’ed pork ribs on the grille. Oh man it was like coming home. And, much to our amazement the place was nearly empty.

We meandered over to a small wooden table on the far side of the place, ordered a sweet tea and lemonade and looked over the menu. Just about then a door that led to a backroom — a meeting room — swung open. My friend, Dawn, guffawed and just about choked on her drink. “Lean over and take a look,” she said incredulously. I leaned over to peek into the meeting room. There at the front of the room stood a larger than life cardboard cutout of a smiling Donald Trump. On his chest hung a small red bag upon which was written the word, ‘Donations’.

People started milling about the room and began to make their way out toward the front door. Every person was over 60, white and very well dressed. A small group of women appeared wearing t-shirts that read, “ God. Trump. Chick-Fil-A.”

Another t-shirt proclaimed, “Trump. Guns. The Wall.”

We had stumbled into a Southern pledge dinner for Trump.

I told Dawn I NEEDED to get into that back room and see what was what. Her deep Southern drawl would be our defense and ticket in!! We nonchalantly walked over to the room as people were exiting and made our way in. Many folks were still milling about. I made a deliberate effort to observe who was present. Just like those we observed exiting earlier, every person was at least over 60, white, at least upper middle class if not wealthy and all wore Trump pins, badges or sported a t-shirt. 

Up close to the cult of Trump

I went up to the cardboard Trump and Dawn took my picture. Both of us did our best not to laugh or let on we thought all of this was disconcerting and somehow funny. Yes, yes I know that everyone has their American and God-given right to their beliefs…we are lucky to be Americans. But to experience the cult of Trump — up close and personal — was something else. There on the back wall hung a large banner with Trump’s and Pence’s face. Piled on the floor were square blue signs with little handles on them announcing Trump 2020. On the tables we spotted banners and center pieces with Trump’s face and red, white and blue streamers. In the corner a pile of red “Keep America Great 2020” MAGA hats.

We took more pictures and wandered among the people listening to conversations on how much they loved Trump. Loved his standing up to Iran. Loved his Border Wall. Loved how he is helping their 401 K’s.

I entered that room from a light-hearted place of curiosity. I left that room feeling afraid. Afraid that the white rich people are organizing already. Afraid of what they loved about their president. Afraid of their perception of America. And, deeply afraid this so-called human being may win again come 2020.

I woke up a bit last night. Hope you do too. We can’t be complacent. The Trump lovers surely aren’t…and that is how they won the first time.

God. Trump. Guns. The Wall. Chick-Fil-A .