Tuesday evening President Donald Trump will hold a rally at the Wildwoods Convention Center in support of the reelection of the 2nd District’s Rep. Jeff Van Drew, the newest Republican and supporter of the president in Congress.
South Jersey is an old hand at hosting presidents. Trump will be the fourth of the past six presidents to visit, preceded most recently by President Barack Obama, President George H.W. Bush and President Ronald Reagan.
Those visits were enjoyed by many thousands of residents and visitors. They created lasting memories for attendees, whose civil behavior put South Jersey in a favorable light for media audiences in the millions.
That’s the way it should be tomorrow as well. This may be a more partisan, divided era — but that’s just a stronger reason to demonstrate to the nation, and even the world, that South Jersey residents are thoughtful, considerate and self-controlled.
More than 100,000 people have gotten tickets for the event, readily available online. Entry to the 7,000-capacity convention center will be first come, first served. Many others will participate in the rally outside, viewing Trump on two large screens. People will start lining up at least several hours before doors open at 3 p.m. Tuesday and will wait another four hours before the rally begins at 7 p.m.
Providing more tickets than the convention center holds might seem inappropriate, but it’s a fair way to give everyone an equal chance at entrance without creating an illegal scalping market for what should remain free tickets. If it also provides campaigns with contact information for possible supporters, well, that’s politics.
In addition to the tens of thousands supporting Trump and Van Drew, there will be thousands attending nearby protest rallies opposing them. At one, at least three Democratic primary candidates seeking to run against Van Drew are expected to speak.
Wildwood Mayor Pete Byron has a good perspective on his city’s day in the U.S. political spotlight.
“I think this just transcends whether you’re a Republican or Democrat,” Byron said. “I’m looking at it as what a confidence-builder this will be for Wildwood, being the amazing place that it is.”
His city will get a lot of help ensuring that security is maintained, people are kept safe and laws aren’t broken. Joining Wildwood’s police will be State Police, the Secret Service, whatever backup law enforcers are needed, even the U.S. Coast Guard.
The mayor of Battle Creek, Michigan, which hosted a Trump rally in December, said it resulted in only two arrests. She warned about organized and aggressive vendors seeking to profit from the event.
Let’s make no arrests the goal in Wildwood on Tuesday. South Jersey is a tourism region, after all, so televised images of well-behaved large crowds can only benefit its residents.
For one day, Wildwood will be like the National Mall in Washington, with civic-minded Americans turning out in large numbers to show their support for the politicians, parties and policies of their choice. If animosity drives some instead to uncivil behavior, it will only discredit them and their partisan cause.