I went to a Trump rally, and it was nothing like what I expected

Despite satirizing bankers and Reagan-loving bros on Twitter, and writing a book about corruption on Wall Street and the pervasive deviance of the 1%, I’m not terribly political.

But considering how spicy this election cycle has been, when I found out a Trump rally was coming to my city, I had to check it out.

A safe space

GSElevator

Although traditionally Cruz Country, The Woodlands, Texas (home of ExxonMobil) is a fairly safe space for Trump. Across the street from the rally venue is a Tommy Bahama, Tiffany & Co., Brooks Brothers, and Vineyard Vines, among other aspirational brands -- stores that middle class people think rich people shop at.

People lined up twelve hours early

GSElevator

Despite a heat advisory, the line started forming at 7 a.m., a solid twelve hours before Trump was due to speak. The atmosphere was upbeat and convivial. One woman had ordered pizzas for the people in line around her.

It was really hot out

GSElevator

A mile long

GSElevator

Four hours before the rally, the line was a mile long and growing fast.

There appeared to be snipers on the roof

GSElevator

The law enforcement presence was strong, but not at all tense. Any time a group of officers walked by a crowd of people, they would break out in applause. Other supporters were handing out water to cops, EMTs, and support staff.

Already creating jobs

GSElevator

There were at least a dozen pop-up vendors. And despite what they say on MSNBC, I didn't see a single Confederate flag.

I couldn't take the heat

GSElevator

Morton's Grille (a block away) was like the dining car of the Trump Train -- filled with supporters in 'Make America Great Again' hats and golf shirts.

The crowd was more diverse than I had expected

GSElevator

This kid got a rousing applause when he unveiled his shirt to the crowd.

Despite ignoring numerous traffic laws, these bikers went over and shook the hands of a large group of Texas state troopers nearby

GSElevator

This kid spent hours leading the crowd in various chants, my favourite being, 'Who's gonna pay for the wall?' The crowd yelled back 'Mexico!'

GSElevator

This is probably why the Clinton team has art students in Brooklyn manufacture 'homemade' signs for their supporters

GSElevator

Nice suit and red tie homage

GSElevator

A Bernie convert

GSElevator

This Bernie supporter made the switch to Trump because 'the system is rigged.'

Back to Morton's

GSElevator

One woman at the bar told me she didn't have to wait in line because she was 'with the Huntsman's.'

Who said the campaign is disorganized?

GSElevator

Without any prior arrangements, after a quick introduction to the media team, I was given a press pass and priority access.

Airport-level security

GSElevator

The doors opened three hours before the main event. Again, the atmosphere was calm and welcoming. Staffers were looking out for the elderly and infirm, ushering them through the media entrance (along with veterans).

The excitement was palpable

GSElevator

Most people entering the ballroom had the look of an 8-year-old kid going to their first baseball game.

Yet, there was a family-friendly vibe

Elevator

Notwithstanding what I've read about Trump supporters being angry and disenfranchised, there was no anger here. Still, no real sign of protesters.

Finally, some protestors

GSElevator

This woman brought multiple signs that she had made herself to augment the presence of fellow agitators. They seemed to congregate around the TV cameras.

They kept it peaceful

GSElevator

This woman was asked to substantiate her racism claim. It appeared that her talking points consisted primarily of Huffington Post headlines.

Someone get this barista a thesaurus

GSElevator

What's the correlation coefficient between making great coffee and having ear gauges?

A Facebook comment thread come to life

GSElevator

The discourse was mostly civil. Here, a young woman is being challenged on Hillary's foreign policy record.

Exactly as I imagined them

GSElevator

It's quite rare to see Reddit memes in the wild, especially in Texas.

Cheeto Jesus

GSElevator

Props for creativity, not so much for the execution.

Inside, the enthusiasm is unabated

GSElevator

The crowd was chanting 'U-S-A, U-S-A' or singing along to classics like 'Deep in the Heart of Texas.' Although, at one point, they got confused when Andrea Bocelli came on over the speakers.

A full house

GSElevator

Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick gave one of the introductory speeches. The highlight for me was when he referred to Antonin Scalia as Anthony.

Finally, the man they came to see

GSElevator

Trump, as expected, gave the crowd exactly what they came for.

People were still lining up

GSElevator

Even as Trump was winding down, people were still lining up outside. They knew they weren't getting in, but were just happy to be there.

The art of the deal

GSElevator

This woman was selling Trump #45 jerseys. She said she came with 300 and sold out. At $60 apiece, that's $18,000.

Back to Morton's

Politics aside, I had a lot of fun. It really was inspiring, and I think even a person who doesn't support Trump would have come away with a similar experience.

I met a lot of good, hard-working people of all ages, colours, and tax brackets. The energy level, patriotism, and enthusiasm was far greater than what I had expected or seen from other rallies on TV.

After the rally, Morton's felt like a family dinner. Strangers were mingling, buying each other drinks, and sharing stories. Well, everybody except for this adorable Pentecostal man standing outside condemning Trump and Hillary supporters alike. He said he'll be voting for Jesus.

John LeFevre is the creator of @GSElevator and the author of the New York Times bestselling book and Amazon Book of the Month “
Straight To Hell: True Tales of Deviance, Debauchery, and Billion-Dollar Deals,”
out now in paperback.

More from GSElevator:

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.