June 2015. I was sitting in my home office, watching the news conference. A gaggle of journalists had gathered at Trump Tower in New York for an announcement that would change the world.
I paused in the doorway to watch Donald Trump descend on the now infamous escalator. Curious, I sat down to listen as Trump began to speak. His words were plain and direct, and you could tell the journalists were a little befuddled by the atypical frankness he used. As the camera shutters clattered in the background, Mr. Trump announced his run for the presidency of the United States. At the time, I remember mentioning to my husband who had also paused in the doorway, “This smells like winning to me.”
The news scurried on to another story about some typical political news filler and the two of us finished getting ready to head to our brand new music shop, not yet opened. We still had shelves to install and fill with unboxed musical instruments in need of displays. We were scheduled to open in a few weeks time and still had countless tasks needing finished before we were ready to flip over that OPEN sign. As we worked through the rest of the afternoon, we joked and mused about the day’s news. What if Trump became president? Is it possible? What about that speech? The surreality of the idea was inescapable. And yet here we were in 2015, and Donald Trump was running for President. Who’d a thunk it?
\\\\*Building out Worlds of Music Chicago in mid 2015.\\\\*
The next few weeks were some of the hardest working weeks of my life, getting ready to open our doors. They were also the most rewarding. The feeling of pride in opening up the doors to your own business is truly an amazing feeling. I highly recommend it. The next several months were filled with sales and happy customers and a sense of true accomplishment. I will never forget them.
\\\\*It was hard to keep future customers out of the shop during set up.\\\\*
It was an unforgettable time in our country too. Trump’s campaign had weathered the initial onslaught of critics, and he was actually looking more and more like a serious contender. I started mentioning him more in conversation, and vague booking about him in my facebook posts. The more I heard Donald Trump speak, the more I was convinced he could be president. And what’s more, the more I WANTED him to be president.
This was totally new for me. I had never in my life WANTED anyone to be president. In every other presidential election, I had wanted one lame choice more than the other, just because “ok” is better than “bad” and “bad” is better than “worse”. But I’d never been excited, never been motivated to elect one man as much as I was for Trump. I’d seen my friends get really “into” a candidate, but never me. Especially not in the primaries. This was my year. It was finally my turn to get truly excited, and involved, in a presidential election. Trump was my Reagan, my JFK, my Goldwater. It felt like a movement was happening, and the more I listened to Trump speak the more I knew it was true. We were going to make America great again.
\\\\*Panorama of Worlds of Music Chicago, ready for business.\\\\*
Yet there was little time for politics in the waning months of 2015. We were a bustling new business in the holiday shopping season. We put up our first Christmas tree in the store, a giant 10-foot tree that filled the 11-foot ceiling room like Santa’s Workshop. Business was good and we were hosting weekly holiday music demos from world musicians across Chicago. As we listened one night to violin and cimbalom (a Middle Eastern hammered dulcimer) and watched the snow fall lightly out our sparkly lit store front windows, life felt right for a change, and all of the sacrifices seemed worth it if even just for this one beautiful moment.
\\\\*Our little shop decked out for Christmas, 2015.\\\\*
2016 started with a sense of purpose. Trump was already busy rallying around the country. Too busy running my new shop to hop on a bus and go work on the Trump campaign in a battleground state, I still found ways in deep blue Chicago to help the campaign. I discovered the miracle of Kindle Direct Publishing and in February put out my first book, another profoundly proud moment in my life. “The (Semi) Essential Trump Supporter’s 2016 Election Survival Guide: Primary Edition” talked about the experiences we all were having across the country as we became open Trump supporters. It included tips like using magnet Trump bumper stickers so you can prevent your car from “getting keyed” by passing Trump haters when you park and how to bring up Trump gracefully at mixed political family gatherings. I tried to use a sense of humor and lightheartedness with the topic, but the reality we were experiencing was far more sinister than my tone suggested. This election, like no other I have seen, brought out a vicious level of hatred from the left not just on politicians but on voters themselves. We were living in very interesting and dangerous times.
\\\\*My first book published in February, 2016.\\\\*
My birthday came around in March, but with working so hard to grow our fledgling business and taking down that giant tree, we hadn’t much time to celebrate. The Trump Chicago Rally on March 11th was the birthday present to myself I looked forward to. I arrived early at the UIC Pavilion, but not early enough to avoid ending up in the now infamous long lines. I noticed what seemed like at the time an unnecessarily large number of police officers on event security, but it ended up unfortunately not being enough. The rally was rioted by angry protestors, riled up by the likes of Luis Gutierrez and Bill Ayers in the growing crowd outside. When the announcer informed the nearly full to capacity indoor crowd that Trump was not going to speak, the riots began inside, and the event was shut down and we were evacuated to the outside where more angry mobs waited.
\\\\*Waiting for Trump to speak at the Chicago Trump Rally.\\\\*
Furious at having my right to listen to my candidate shut down, I made a decision that forever changed my life. I chose to stand outside the Pavilion with my Trump flag until all of the angry protestors were gone. It was the moment when I knew that I was going to stand up for President Trump no matter what. I became a proud and loud Trump supporter in that one moment, and I had no way of knowing at the time what that was going to mean for my life.
\\\\*The UIC Pavilion was filled to the rafters. Before the rioting.\\\\*
As I stood that night and endured onslaughts of raging “social justice warriors” and wilding gang youth verbally attacking me, threatening me, and calling me the now tedious refrain of racist, sexist, fascist, homophobe, etc., little did I know I was already being “doxxed” to the radical left. I was about to be targeted for being a Trump supporter, and by “I”, I mean myself, my husband AND our new business, a targeting that began that very night and grew as the weeks progressed after the rally/riot. One Trump hater would become three Trump haters would become six in the coming weeks, and we would weather our first of many “ratings attacks” where haters low rate your business because they disagree with your politics. Or in this case, because of my support of Trump. A support that was solidified as I stood with my blue Trump Make America Great Again flag outside the UIC Pavilion that night and watched my country and my life change forever.
\\\\*The rioting mob that awaited us outside the Chicago Trump Rally.\\\\*
The following weeks were very difficult, it was hard to sleep and I felt like I couldn’t let go of the sense of heightened adrenalin. The riot was a traumatic event, not just for the country, but for me personally. I could feel that something had forever changed, changed in me, and changed in the world. America, the land of freedom of speech had turned into a land of angry mobs that shut down that free speech if they disagreed with it. It was a scary time. My outrage at what had happened made it impossible for me to be silent anymore about my choice for president and my concerns for the country. I was stuck between the frustration of watching my country break down and the now growing chorus of so called friends making it clear that ANY support of Trump would be met with vitriol and “consequences”. I needed an “outlet” for my frustration and a way to process my experience that night watching free speech attacked before my very eyes.
\\\\*Officer bloodied in rioting outside the UIC Pavilion Trump rally.\\\\*
I started openly discussing my support for Trump and my experiences on social media, and soon got tired of answering the same questions. “Why do you support Trump?” “Do you really want to build a wall?” “But he said blah, blah, blah.” and so on, and explaining to each doubter or hater individually became senseless. With our little shop seemingly “up on it’s feet” and weathering any “storms”, I was able to take a bit more time away from the music shop to get a bit of the life I’d left aside while we started our business. I started a new podcast, Trump Talk US, talking about the future president and his policies and prospects. I’d been a stand up comedian and radio/podcast personality before we decided to open our shop, and had set that aside to build the business. I was happy to get some of that back by doing the show. It was something useful I could do, even from deep blue democrat Chicago, to help the movement I saw growing before my eyes. The Make America Great Again movement.
\\\\*Setting up Trump Talk US podcast "studio".\\\\*
Trump continued to excel in the primaries and into the summer election cycle. Despite all the doubting pundits and angry leftists, Trump was taking the political world by storm. My enthusiasm was boiling over. The hours spent at the music store where we kept a pretty strict “no political discussion in the shop” policy for ourselves grew longer as my personal support grew. I started spending less time at the shop, and more time working from home. This only gave me more opportunities to listen to Trump’s speeches, which made me more enthusiastic and I shared that enthusiasm in my social media and podcast. I’ve been told many times that my business would still be alive today if I had only kept my mouth shut but my excitement at the prospect of electing someone to restore everything I knew was wrong in this country was too great to stay silent about. I refused to live in a world where I wasn’t “allowed” to voice my personal political opinions without fearing for my livelihood.
\\\\*Protesting Democracy Partners with Joan LaSonde.\\\\*
So I didn’t shut up. That was my only offense, but it was enough for the Left.
As the summer and fall wore on, it became obvious that a lot of our friends and fellow Chicagoans DID want to live in that world of political fear and intimidation. I spent hours deleting hateful comments on our business page and listings. A few Trump hate deranged “sh**posters” became an organized online boycott of our store spread by the leadership of the local communist left organizations, Antifa and Antifa sympathizers and even local Tribune columnists. Friends would come into the shop and tell us about the “warning calls” about doing business with us from fellow musicians known to be also anti-Trump activists. In the world of “Love trumps hate”, it’s only ok to be open about your politics if you hate Trump. If you like Trump, it’s totally ok to hate you. I’m still waiting to see where the “love” part comes in.
And so the Left set out to destroy my business. I was too stubborn to silence myself so they punished me…and my husband. Frankly, they punished the entire music community, including many of the immigrants they claimed to be defending whose only option to get music instruments from their culture, or accessories and service for their musical traditions was our shop. None of that mattered to the #NeverTrump crowd, who continued to spread lies and slander about us and our shop in order to make me stop talking about Donald Trump. They threatened other musicians with similar boycotts and slander campaigns if they continued to do business with us. While our first year of business had gone quite well, it seemed our second year was going to be rocky, not because of the business, but because of politics. I hadn’t planned on all out online war with organized communists when I wrote up my business plan. Still, I fought on, deleting hate comments, scouring our listings for new ratings attacks and yes, still podcasting on Periscope each night. Which was often itself quite an accomplishment with the constant shadowbanning tactics and feed freezes that were a daily occurrence on Periscope for Trump supporters like myself.
\\\\*Coverage of the Chicago Trump Street Team on local ABC7.\\\\*
I had also taken to counterprotesting the many anti-Trump protests at Chicago Trump Tower. After the Trump rally that became a riot, Chicagoans were afraid to show their Trump support in public. I felt it was my duty to show that not everyone was willing to be cowed in fear of Leftist hate. So I showed up with a small group of fellow patriots with my flags and signs in front of the Tower and faced angry crowds of socialist students and their Leftist professors. Many times, always outnumbered, but never silent. We called ourselves the Chicago Trump Street Team, and anyone who had the balls to stand on the street to support Trump with us was in the club. Sometimes I even stood by myself on big Chicago street corners with a Trump campaign sign in what I called a 1 Woman For Trump Rally. Supporting Trump became a mission, a mission to save America, and I rarely let a protest go by during the election that I didn’t try to counter and show support for Trump at.
On Election Day 2016, I was up before the crack of dawn to get to the polls. I was a Republican judge at a polling station a few neighborhoods over, and had to get everything set up for the day’s vote. Egg McMuffin in hand, I started that morning with a huge sense of optimism and relief. Today we would know. Today we see who is right. Today all this madness will be over and we can go back to our lives, hopefully happily watching the country be made great again.
\\\\*Protestors at Trump Tower Chicago, November 9th, 2016.\\\\*
I was half right. Trump did win, and I am happily watching the country be made great again. I was wrong to think the madness was going to stop after the election. The joy I felt watching returns come back on election night, as the democrat loving media was compelled to report in stunned disbelief that in fact Donald J. Trump was the next president of the United States was glorious. But it was soon to be matched by the sorrow that our country was not going to get over the election any time soon.
Christmas of 2016 was a slender holiday season. We put up our second Christmas tree in the shop, a medium sized one in the window, not the joyful 10 footer of the year past. The boycotts and online attacks had taken a toll, still we were fighting back as a business and doing more online sales to compensate. I started doing my podcast less and less, and felt myself ready to go back to so-called regular life. I figured that over the next few months the whole “Trump supporter boycott” thing would blow over and our business would be fine now that politics could go back on the back burner for everybody. I mean, it was over, one side won, as always, this time it happened to be ours. No big deal. Besides, we were busy planning a trip to see the inauguration in person in Washington, DC. Neither of us were willing to let the sadly still whining Democrats who might still want to bring down our business get us down at such a proud and happy moment.
\\\\*Christmas tree in the shop window, Christmas 2016.\\\\*
The inauguration was phenomenal. As I stood watching the opening night concert surrounded by our historic monuments and thousands of fellow Trump supporters, I felt the most profound sense of accomplishment. We had done it. Despite the haters. Despite the violence they purported on us. Despite the boycotts and slander. Despite the Left attacking not just me, but hundreds maybe thousands of others like me, despite them trying to make us fear speaking our minds, we won. The power of the presidency was being turned over to President Donald J. Trump, and by the end of the day the Obama era would be over. Trump was our president, and we shouted it loudly as we drove past groups of supporters and protestors alike on the streets of DC. It was an amazing day I will never forget. It was the dawn of a new presidency. It was the dawn of a new day in America. I slept more soundly in that hotel in Manassas that night then I ever had before.
\\\\*Picking up our tickets to the inauguration of President Trump.\\\\*
We headed back home to Chicago on Sunday, rested on Monday, our only day closed at our little music shop, and set out Tuesday morning to start our first business day with Trump as our president. We opened the shop and spent the morning perky and optimistic for the future, proud of our country, and of our little corner of it at Worlds of Music Chicago. Now that Trump was president, everyone would be able to go back to focusing on regular life and we were busy setting a good example of doing just that. Back to business.
\\\\*Alexander setting up for a gong meditation in our music shop.\\\\*
As I took a break outside in the brisk winter air to catch a quick smoke, I happened to look over at our side entrance to the shop. There appeared to be a small wad of trash shoved the latch and doorframe. I went to remove what I thought was just the work of a lazy litterer or perhaps really odd squirrel, and saw it was a piece of paper rolled up with a note inside. The message inside was about to change everything.
It read, “I hope nothing happens to your shop like a fire or a brick in your window.”
\\\\*The note we found tucked in our side door after the inauguration.\\\\*
These details are taken from Suzzanne Monk's new book, "My Scarlet Letter "T" : One Woman's Tale Of Triumph Over the Anti-Trump Left" which is due for publication this fall.
Suzzanne Monk is an author, pundit and chair of Stand With POTUS PAC living in the DC area. Her latest book, MAGAManual:The Trumpers 2018 Midterm Strategy Guide and Rules For Trumpers.are available on Amazon.