MAGA Rally at Barney Schwartz
Several hundred people from around San Luis Obispo County and Santa Maria gathered for a “MAGA Rally” at Barney Schwartz Park in Paso Robles before cruising south through the cities of SLO County and US 101, finishing in Santa Maria.
Barney Schwartz was filled with red hats, American flags, and several women dressed as suffragist to celebrate the 100th anniversary of women’s right to vote.
Before heading to the highway, organizers held a rally with speakers including CA 24th Congressional District candidate Andy Caldwell, and Republican Party SLO District 1 Chairperson Linda Becker. Becker, dressed as one of the suffragist in a white dress and red hat, delivered a speech encouraging participants to vote in the 2020 election.
“Thank you Republican Party for giving us the right to vote,” Becker said, referencing the Republican effort to establish the 19th Amendment. “Please get out and vote, and invite your friends and family to get out and vote.”
The 19th Amendment was introduced by California Senator A.A. Sargent, a Republican, in 1878. It was defeated four times by a Democrat-controlled senate. Sargent proposed the bill with the support of suffragist Susan B. Anthony, and it was passed after 41 years when the Republican Party gained control of the senate following the 1918 election.
“We are celebrating 100 years of that 19th Amendment, and it is such an important obligation,” Becker said. “I encourage you to walk in your ballot.”
Becker followed her encouragement with an anecdote about her sending a Thanksgiving letter in the mail last year that did not arrive at the intended address until Christmas.
“Hello, am I going to send my ballot in the mail and take a chance? No,” Becker said.
Becker also provided info about early voter stations around the North SLO County — four in Paso Robles, one in Templeton, and three in Atascadero, open today. She finished her speech with information about the common ground the Republican Party shared.
“As conservatives, we want less government interference, lower taxes, personal freedoms, and we want to grow our economy,” Becker said. “So we are going to vote ‘no’ on all propositions except 20 and 22.”
Caldwell followed Becker and voiced his concerns regarding the importance of the election.
“This election really, truly does present an existential threat to the future of, not just America, but what we know as the ‘free world,’” Caldwell said. “Right now, in America, there are calls to abandon our Judeo-Christian heritage, Western civilization, our laws, cultures and institutions, the nuclear family, belief in God, and the concept of inalienable rights and self-evident truths.”
Caldwell seemed to be referencing some of the calls to action and mission of Black Lives Matter, who until late September had listed the disruption of the “Western-prescribed nuclear family structure” as a core mission on its website. The page was called “What We Believe” but as of Sept. 24 the page had been entirely deleted.
“I can tell you through my knowledge of history, political science and the rest,” Caldwell said. “If we abandon any of those things, let alone all of them, America ceases to exist. Our Declaration of Independence is a cornerstone — we believe in inalienable rights and self-evident truths … that have created an atmosphere of freedom and liberty. What they want is complete and total control by government.”
The surge of Republican patriotism and support for President Trump has been in some part credited to state government responses to coronavirus, including actions by California governor Gavin Newsom who has received sharp criticisms by business owners leaving California.
“It’s because he put America first again,” Caldwell said of the ire given to the president.
The rally ended with a speech and a prayer by Bishop Gabe Abdelaziz of The Revival Center in Paso Robles.
Following the rally, hundreds of vehicles dressed in American flags, Trump 2020 flags, Gadsden flags, and other patriotic regalia began a trip down Spring Street south ending in Santa Maria.
MAGA Drag the Interstate
Approximately 1,000 participants in several hundred vehicles crawled through Paso Robles from Barney Schwartz down Spring Street honking horns and playing music in support of what organizers called “a big ol’ heap of old-fashioned American patriotism.”
The event was dubbed #MAGADragTheInterstate, part of a national effort. On Twitter, the hashtag brought up videos from around the country, including Colorado, Connecticut, Tennessee, Washington, and Arizona — one post from user @darin_west counted 762 “Trump Trains” and claimed the number was growing.
The Connecticut rally claimed to have more than 3,000 vehicles, and a participant in Colorado stated “people here are sick of lockdowns and liberal policies.” Another Colorado driver said “The patriotism was vibrating through the air.”
In California, rallies were seen from Sacramento where there was reported more than 10,000 vehicles and parades in Coachella Valley down south.
Minnesota was represented by Julia Procopio who wrote “We gonna go RED baby!! First time in 47 years!!”
Online criticisms of the rallies countered the patriotism claimed by the participants. Some posts on social media compared the rallies to the Taliban.
Locally, the mood was high-spirited and patriotic. The “Trump Train” entered US 101 south at Spring Street and traveled to the SpringHill Suites and Staples parking lots in Atascadero, where it staged for the trip down El Camino Real.
At that stop, the scene was reminiscent of a college football tailgate party with music and people milling around the parking lot.
The Frisco family met there, being from both Paso Robles and Morro Bay. The Atascadero News and Paso Robles Press spoke with the family about why they were there.
“I’m a supporter of Trump, and I’m a Republican through and through,” Patrick Frisco said. “I just want to come out here and show we are definitely in support of Trump not only across the country but here in this county as well.” It was not their first rodeo.
“We did a boat parade out on Nacimiento [Lake] a couple months ago,” he said. “I can’t say this is my first parade.”
With hundreds of vehicles flooding the streets and highways, the parade was met also with real time traffic. Entering US 101, the parade was escorted by two CHP vehicles and no local incidents were reported. Patrick Frisco said he was impressed by the movement.
“I’ve never seen anything like this before,” he said. “Driving down the road, looking at what is going on here, this is history. This is historical. I’ve never seen anything like it, and I don’t know how long it will be until we see something like this again.”
All around the country, there may have been hundreds of thousands of vehicles in support of the re-election of President Trump and conservative ideals.
“This is incredible,” Frisco said. “The solid support that is backed behind — not just the person, but the ideology — the ideologies that founded America. This [parade] is consistent with our Founding Fathers — freedom, liberty, personal responsibility, less taxes, respect for everyone as an individual from the very beginning of life to the very end of life.”
A Republican president has not won California since 1988 when Ronald Reagan’s vice president George Bush won. Since then, Republicans have been hammered at the presidential polls for the past seven elections, beaten by the Democratic Party candidate by an average of 55.3 percent to 37.4 percent, with 2016 recording the largest win for the Democratic Party candidate in history. The year 2020 is nothing short of historic so far, and a historic election hangs in the balance. Whether California Republicans can muster the forces to move the needle toward their candidate is yet to be known, but it is evident the Democratic Party candidate is not inspiring the same enthusiasm from his base.
“Just on our street in Morro Bay, we have three Trump [flags] on people’s front doors, including ours,” Danielle Frisco said. “I think people are starting to wake up and realize what is at stake here in this election. This election is more important than any election that I’ve been alive for and I’m excited to be doing this with my kids. It has taught them a lot, and they are very patriotic. They are little Trump supporters, and I know they will be voters one day and that is the most important thing.” Her 7-year old son Blake had plans to support the president when he was able to drive.
“I’m going to bring a bus full of people in the back and I’m going to be the driver,” Blake Frisco said, “and they will all be holding Trump flags at a Trump rally.”
Blake’s father Ryan was glad to bring his family to the rally to enjoy people who shared similar values.
“Sometimes, being conservative, you feel alone in your thoughts, so it is nice to be a part of a larger group and see a lot of other people share my beliefs,” Ryan Frisco said.
The optimism generated by the large congregation of attendees around California teased that change was in the air.
“If this is the start of the momentum, or the impetus in turning the state red again, fantastic,” Patrick Frisco said.