Donald Trump in the North Country

by Miguel Balbuena

The novel idea of Spaceship Earth was relaunched by United States Ambassador to the United Nations Adlai Stevenson when he spoke at this forum in 1965. The notion rapidly gained traction so much so that, in the short span of three years thereafter, the term had already been the subject of three influential book chapters or full books written by prominent thinkers: “The Economics of the Coming Spaceship Earth” by Kenneth Boulding, “Spaceship Earth” by Barbara Ward, and “Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth” by Buckminster Fuller.

As Spaceship Earth just completed its 2,018th anno Domini-based ritualistic voyage around its favorite star, it’s the perfect time to pick the best political event of this past year for both the Spaceship Earth’s Republican and Democrat crews in upstate New York.

The final tally of a straw poll that I conducted among Republicans and Democrats had the arrival of Air Force One to upstate as the top vote-getter for this event. The presidential aircraft landed not once, but twice, in this region, and on the same date, August 13. First, at Wheeler-Sack Army Airfield at Fort Drum, a site in Jefferson County, and, afterwards, at Griffiss International Airport in Rome, in Oneida County. These were the maiden occasions that this airplane has touched on upstate during the administration of Donald Trump.

The Commander-in-Chief came to Fort Drum to sign the National Defense Authorization Act, and, in passing, to boost the ballot of U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-Willsboro, who is the incumbent in the 21nd Congressional District of New York. Then, the president took off to Rome on his way to Utica. This time the promotion of the Grand Old Party local candidate was not a side issue as Trump starred at a fundraiser at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Utica for the re-election of U.S. Rep. Claudia Tenney, R-New Hartford, who is the delegate of the 22nd Congressional District of this same state.

Both the signing ceremony at Fort Drum and the fundraiser in Utica were closed to the general public. This didn’t deter local citizens from expressing their views in public regarding the policies pursued by the head of the executive branch whether taking a glimpse of him or not. In fact, four rallies took place: two pro-Trump, in Rome and Utica; two anti-Trump, in Utica and Watertown, a city abutting Fort Drum.

For the Republican base in the upstate area, the drought without a Trump sighting was officially over on August 13. Between April 12 and April 18, 2017, The Donald crisscrossed this land mass, swinging by eight of its largest cities. Not only his partisan base had to wait with bated breath for 482 days but also politically independent people deeply immersed in the celebrity culture so pervasive in America. The wow factor came into play as the former reality television show host has been on the A-list of celebrities for decades now.

Red wave supporters and their blue wave counterparts agreed that the president’s visit to upstate was beneficial for their respective parties. For both it afforded the chance to kick into high gear their campaigns in the lead-up to the November’s midterm elections. The visit galvanized their bases pro and con the policies followed by the Queens-born billionaire in fields such as taxation, education, health care, immigration, trade and foreign policy.

I had originally planned to attend all four of the aforementioned demonstrations – which would have been the ideal – in order to be “fair and balanced” as per Fox News’ former slogan. Nonetheless, logistical problems prevented me from leaving Watertown in time to reach Rome and Utica to report on the rest of them.

As a journalist I have to strive to remain as objective as possible, which didn’t prevent me from carpooling up from Syracuse to Watertown with activists from the Peace Council and Veterans for Peace (VFP), namely Ronald Van Norstrand, Askar Salikhov, Carol Baum, Peter Swords and his wife Diane, in the same vein that reporters travel all the time with Trump aboard Air Force One.

In Watertown Van Norstrand rendezvoused with two other VFP members: Roland Van Deusen, from Clayton, N.Y., and Christopher Jamison, from Henderson, N.Y., who came to listen his speech at the protest against Trump.

About the author: Miguel Balbuena is a writer in the academic, scientific, journalistic and literary
fields (in the fiction and non-fiction genres).