Last week when members of a group called Cowboys for Trump announced they were going to host a horseback ride from the Santa Fe Rodeo Grounds to the Roundhouse, the reaction of Santa Fe residents was kind, gracious and tolerant, welcoming the conservative cowboys with open arms, saying even though they disagree with the organization’s political message they support their First Amendment rights and hope the group enjoys a beautiful day under blue New Mexico skies we all can enjoy in a spirit of love and unity.
I’m joking of course.
In reality the reaction in the City Different basically was the same knee-jerk spewing of partisan invective you see all over this troubled nation in these divisive times.
As it turned out, the cowboys held their horses. The ride from the Rodeo Grounds, which was to have taken place Friday, was canceled. Turns out, according to organizers, many of the cowboys were “called to D.C.” for an event being held by the Republican National Committee. Also, they said, they couldn’t afford the $600 fee being charged charged by the city. (You’d think that Trump’s tax cuts would easily pay for that, but what do I know?)
The rally at the Capitol was still a go.
Dozens of Trump supporters showed up for the event, along with a handful of anti-Trump protesters.
But before the parade permit issue was publicized, the heat the planned procession had generated was intense.
In a letter to the editor about a story I wrote Monday, Paul Groh of Santa Fe wrote that Cowboys for Trump “will be riding through Santa Fe to celebrate a lying, racist, misogynist, willfully ignorant man. Calling it a ‘family friendly’ event in light of how this president has treated families is particularly galling. Hope the only folks to turn out are the ‘cowboys’ themselves — if ever a travesty disguised as an event needed to be totally ignored, it is this one.”
And the online comments on my story were even worse.
“You may readily identify Trumpanzees, whether equestrian or bovine, 1) by their loud, incomprehensible bellows and 2) by the sloppy messes they leave for somebody else to clean up,” wrote a reader named John Konopak.
And reader Andy Fertal commented, “Horse [excrement], dressed up and labeled conservatism! How appropriate. Trump in a nutshell!”
Comments from the Trump contingent were no less abrasive.
Conservative activist John Block, replying to another commenter who was worried about mixing horses with motorcycles in the procession to the Roundhouse, wrote, “You act as if horses are weak, feeble beings (such [as] sad liberals). If they could vote, I guarantee you they wouldn’t be voting for snowflakes like your Democrat friends!”
Another conservative, Russ McGinnis contributed this comment: “It’s apparently clear that the left has become completely unhinged. The fact that they can’t control our borders won’t fix immigration and all [they] want to do is investigate a completely innocent person is beyond pathetic. Go Trump 2020 the Democrat Party is dead.”
Spread the love vibration, as local punk band 27 Devils Joking used to sing.
I guess you could argue that this could be expected in an area with such a heavily Democratic lean. Trump only got 20 percent of the Santa Fe County vote in 2016. Trump supporter Steve Pearce did only slightly better here in his 2018 race against Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham. He got 21 percent.
Readers of this column should know I’m no Trump fan. Basically I believe that the only thing keeping us safe from most of his darkest impulses is his own and his administration’s incompetence — which I suppose in his followers’ eyes makes me just another Deep State Enemy of the People or whatnot.
But I am a big fan of the First Amendment.
And yes, free speech is even for those who regurgitate partisan dribble on The New Mexican’s website. And even for those who wish to publicly praise a bad president.
So in no way did I feel threatened by a bunch of folks going to the state Capitol to express their political opinions — with or without horses.