Most people might not immediately think to equate Donald Trump’s supporters with the Juggalo Family, the devoted fan base of horrorcore rap duo Insane Clown Posse. But most people aren’t Nathan Rabin (read our interview with him here). This past summer, Rabin, a freelance writer and former A.V. Club head writer, spent a week split between the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, and the 17th annual Gathering of the Juggalos three hours away in Thornville.
The result is the e-book 7 Days in Ohio: Trump, The Gathering of the Juggalos and the Summer Everything Went Insane, an odyssey that starts as a journey through three “family” reunions--Trump supporters, the Juggalos, and Rabin’s attempt to reconnect with his emotionally troubled half brother Vince at the Gathering. What it becomes is a meditation on tribalism and the importance of knowing your experience matters.
Rabin is far from an objective chronicler (he’s a professed ICP fan who can’t stand Trump). However, his understanding of the Juggalo Family, and being part of a fan community that doubles as a lifestyle choice, gives him a unique perspective on the people he encounters at the RNC.
Both the convention and the Gathering are circuses, to be sure (one political, the other literally involving performers in clown makeup). As Rabin demonstrates, both are also groups whose supporters share a sense of disenfranchisement, a feeling which has come to manifest itself in counterintuitive ways. The Republican Party, once the party of Morning in America, has morphed into inspiring volatile levels of hatred in its supporters. The Juggalos on the other hand, despite being categorized by the FBI as a “loosely-organized hybrid gang,” proclaim faith, humility and their members’ inherent value to society.
While 7 Days in Ohio includes plenty of details from the Gathering, Rabin moves fairly quickly through his time at the RNC. While his thoughts about the ways the two groups express the broken soul of the country are great, his encounters with attendees and supporters in Cleveland are less personal, and feature less interaction, than his encounters with fellow Juggalos at the gathering. It reads less like insightful ground-level perspective and more like a general overview.
7 Days in Ohio may not be a great work of scathing political journalism. It is, however, an emotionally insightful appeal to understand how profoundly broken people seek community. Any group repeatedly told that their needs or experiences don’t matter, Rabin reminds us, will make strides to ensure they are heard. The Juggalos’ antics, though questionable in taste, aren’t meant to cause harm or do permanent damage. The same, the writer argues, might not be said of Trump’s camp.
7 Days in Ohio: Trump, The Gathering of the Juggalos and the Summer Everything Went Insane is currently available through Amazon.