Update, November 26: Baby Trump will indeed fly overhead the BB&T Center today hours before the president's rally. "Baby Trump will demonstrate Trump’s official unwelcoming of the season," protest organizers said in a media email.
The secret to defeating Donald Trump? A big orange balloon, obviously.
Liberal activists will pull out all the stops to greet the president during his visit to South Florida next week for a campaign rally. In less than 24 hours, an online fundraising effort to bring the world-famous Baby Trump balloon to Broward County officially surpassed its $3,700 goal. That's because everyone knows the only thing Donald Trump hates more than non-white immigrants and IRS audits is seeing himself as a diapered toddler with tiny hands.
Now, astute minds might ask how exactly a balloon would help beat the president. It's true Trump is already waddling under the shadow of an increasingly intense impeachment hearing process on Capitol Hill, and, sure, Florida is a must-win state for Democrats in 2020 that could use all the get-out-the-vote efforts and political funding it can get, but have you seen this balloon? It's a 20-foot tall, phone-toting Oompa Loompa with a bright yellow comb-over to match the squiggly hairs scribbled on its saggy chest, all drooping over a sad gut. It's a work of art.
If chess is like politics, Florida Democrats are playing What Do You Meme. It's simple: Impeachment hearings are boring as hell, whereas Baby Trump is undeniably badass and a total inspiration for the grassroots.
In fact, the only imaginable downside to bringing Baby Trump to next week's protest is that it might not have time to travel to New York to float in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade. But what can be done? No one said saving democracy would be easy.
This won't be Trump's first time meeting his helium-filled nemesis. The pair first met in London last year during the president's official visit to the United Kingdom. The balloon was such a viral sensation that a nonprofit group in New Jersey raked in $23,000 in donations to create six copies of its own. Thus, the Baby Trump tour was born. Since then, the balloon has followed Real Trump across the Sunshine State, appearing at protests in Orlando and Palm Beach County.
"When I saw that Trump was hosting his homecoming rally in Broward, I thought to myself, Let's give this charity-scamming tax cheater a proper welcome," says longtime Democratic operative Craig Smith, who started the recent GoFundMe campaign.
The Florida Democratic Party and actress Bette Midler shared links to the online fundraiser. Earlier this year, Midler helped spread a petition to change the name of the street outside Trump Tower in New York to Barack Obama Avenue (checkmate, conservatives). The petition, which was started as a joke, has reportedly received more than 447,000 signatures.
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Indeed, whether it's an orange balloon, a troll-worthy change of a street name, or Tom Steyer spending tens of millions of dollars on God knows what, this isn't the first or the last time Democratic activists have put money and effort into internet owns and boondoggles. And though it's all in good fun, one can't help but wonder if those efforts might be better directed at more pragmatic moves such as voter registration drives.
"If people want to give their money to voter registration, they should have at it," says Smith, who believes an attention-grabbing balloon has its benefits. "We live in a media time where visuals have a huge impact, whether on Twitter or Instagram. So to have a visual personification of the fact that we're not happy Trump's coming here is important — it conveys the message better than some long press release."
As of this morning, Smith's GoFundMe campaign has raised roughly $230 more than the $3,700 needed to pay for Baby Trump (which costs $1,000 simply to inflate, according to the Baby Trump tour site). Smith says any extra donations will go toward security for the protest. Earlier this month, a man was charged with stabbing a Baby Trump balloon stationed near the University of Alabama's football stadium to greet the president on his visit.
According to Florida Democratic Party press secretary Alex Morash, security officials still need to decide whether Baby Trump will be allowed to go airborne at next week's protest. During the Orlando protest in June, the terrifying toddler was not allowed to leave the ground for security reasons.