Back in 2020, when Carl Butz and I first discussed the name of my future column, Carl immediately suggested “Here Back East.” “You live on the East coast,” he said, “–Florida, Long Island and Maine–so it is accurate and general enough that you can write about anything under that heading.” I was fine with it considering I did not fully grasp at the time how much I would enjoy sitting down each week in front of my old Olympia typewriter to tap out the 200 words or so that ultimately become a Messenger column. So here I am in Palm Beach a day after the historic news of the indictment of a former President – right in my backyard. Well not quite my backyard but a few miles south of it, at Mar-a-Lago, the permanent residence of our former President. After tennis yesterday morning, I hung the lanyard with my press pass around my neck and headed out. (Full disclosure – I am scheduled to be interviewed by the Secret Service for entry to the White House press conferences in the spring.)
The midday sun was high over the ocean as I drove past the historic wooden gates at the entrance of Mar-a-Lago. A few secret servicemen carried serious-looking weapons and stood talking amongst themselves as minimal lunch traffic went in and out of the club grounds. There was no former President greeting his club members that I could see. Unable to stop to query the guards about their morning routine now that the former President was preparing to travel north for his arraignment, I proceeded west over the Southern Bridge where Trump supporters routinely gather to catch a glimpse of him and cheer him in his motorcade on the way to his golf club in West Palm Beach, or perhaps to the airport.
Midway over the bridge a Palm Beach policeman idled on his motorcycle. Below him, partly under the bridge, were a group of a dozen or so supporters waving flags- mostly MAGA– so many flags they seemed to outnumber the people. People were milling about, some seated in beach chairs. The mood at the gathering seemed upbeat and the scene brought to mind the football tailgate parties outside of Shea Stadium in the 1970s. Parked beside the bridge was a smart, white BMW convertible with a mix of American and MAGA flags attached to the rear. Still, it appeared to be a weak turnout compared to the bridge rallies in years past, when the headlines drew out the fans. One such occasion was during the last impeachment trial. There were easily ten times the number of people then, barely contained in the permitted areas around the bridge entrance. The indictment of this former President has not seemed to arouse the same ire of his supporters, if the crowd count was any indication of their sentiment. It might have been the time of day—I was there during lunch hour. As the date for the arraignment grows near, I assume more supporters will be drawn to the Southern Bridge location to cheer on the former president. Or perhaps his supporters are awaiting his commands, as they did prior to the January 6 insurrection— the infamous day in history when the Capitol was stormed by American flag-bearing extremists. Here’s to the American flag, a symbol of our collective values and support of the Constitution. Yesterday on the bridge, the flag was made to appear symbolic of less than all we stand for in America.
One thought on “All the Flags at the Bridge”
I am all too familiar with passing Mara lago and the trump fans on the southern bridge as my condo is just south of there. I’m struck by the free time people seem to have to just hang out. I agree that when I see a flag waving person or car it is now associated with Trump and not the America we know and love. Sad.