As election day approached, supporters of President Donald Trump turned their vehicles into parade floats for a rally through the center of Cordova. The Saturday, Oct. 31 event was organized by commercial fisherman Mark Irving. Irving never considered himself a political activist — and still doesn’t, he said.
“I’m not involved in politics,” Irving said. “It’s just something that had to be done… In these crazy times we’re living in, it raised the morale of everybody. That was our goal.”
Irving organized the parade entirely by word of mouth, believing that, although using social media may have allowed him to draw larger numbers, online backlash might have tainted the event’s exuberant tone.
About 68 vehicles gathered for the parade at Cordova Ferry Terminal, with additional vehicles joining en route, Irving said. The parade proceeded past Cordova Community Medical Center and moved through the center of town, dispersing near Cordova Harbor. Cars and trucks flew flags emblazoned with slogans like “Keep America great” and “No more bullsh–.” Some flags displayed a whimsical image of Trump riding atop a tank and accompanied by fireworks, a billowing cloud of cash and a machine-gun-wielding bald eagle.
Aside from a few “thumbs-down” gestures, the rally was well-received by onlookers, Irving said.
The parade was attended by Mayor Clay Koplin, who has made a practice of joining public demonstrations, including a June 7 Black Lives Matter march. Koplin said he was surprised by the strong public participation in the rally, given the short notice and word-of-mouth nature of organizing.
“I see all of these rallies and positive civic engagement as boding well for a government that was designed to be of the people, by the people and for the people — not a top-down ‘the government is there to do what’s best for you’ model,” Koplin said. “It is my hope that high levels of civic interest and engagement will continue after the election, and remind us exactly what it is that makes America special: the people.”
William Deaton, leader of the Republican Party’s Cordova Precinct, endorsed the rally, saying that Trump had earned re-election through his opposition to the practice of abortion; his elimination of Islamic State group and al-Qaeda leaders; his criminal justice reforms; and his willingness to sacrifice a celebrity lifestyle to shoulder the responsibilities of the presidency.
“He went from a lavish lifestyle free from the worries of the world to an extremely stressful job where people, literally, issue death threats on a daily basis,” the 19-year-old Deaton said. “Regardless of how people feel about his tweets or the vulgarity of some of his language, he is the defender of Western civilization. He is the bodyguard of freedom. I am extremely proud to cast my first presidential ballot for Donald John Trump.”
Speaking on Tuesday, Nov. 3, Irving said he expected Trump to win reelection. In Irving’s view, voters supporting Joe Biden were more motivated by hatred for Trump than by a genuine enthusiasm for their own candidate. Irving said he wished he’d organized the parade sooner, giving Cordova’s pro-Trump movement more time to build steam through a series of public events.
“I’m not too concerned for myself, but I’m concerned for my grandkids,” Irving said. “This is the United States. We don’t need a socialist government or a communist government at this point… It’s kind of sad that when someone hangs an American flag outside their house, you automatically know who they’re voting for. That’s kind of sad. That says a lot about the Democratic Party right there.”