A Bizarre Boater PAC That May Not Actually Exist Throws Trump's Campaign a Lifeline
Donald Trump has bled out supporters of different population groups since his election. Suburbanites have left him, evangelicals show signs of disillusionment and working class whites are beginning to jump ship.
But even in times of need, there is a group of Trump fans whose commitment seems absolute: boaters.
Trump and the boat owner class have a special relationship that has come about through shared interests and a fair bit of TLC. His campaign has long been in love with the images of Trump-loving boaters hoisting their MAGA flags as they travel along various waterways. In the past two months, Eric Trump has tweeted three times about the Trump boat parades, calling one of them as proof of the "incredible spirit and love in our great country". And in early May, Trump tweeted to the "beautiful boater" that he "would never let you down".
But last Thursday, the relationship took a weird turn when the president released a video announcing MAGA boat parades for his June 14th birthday, supported by menacing music and with a man disguised as a statue of liberty Beer waved.
At the end of the video, viewers were directed to Boaters for a Brighter Future, which calls itself a Super PAC for boaters. There was a problem. The PAC that the president referred to doesn't really exist outside of his viral video. And its founders are happy with the reputation, but as amazed as the rest of the country why the President decided to sponsor them and are interested in their cause.
"I think it's just boaters who are looking for an excuse to drive their boats around," said Scott Crabtree, one of the co-founders of Boaters for a Brighter Future, about the Trump boat parades that caught Trump's attention.
Crabtree and his business partner Carlton Morris planned to launch Boaters for a Brighter Future last year to warn boat owners of the Democrats' ambitious overhaul of the energy sector - the Green New Deal - which they feared could be banned of the recreational motor boat. They also wanted to promote their own boat-related businesses, including Yacht Executive Solutions, a company that advises yacht owners on their finances, and Corpen Communications, a chartered yacht marketer.
But they said the accountant they wanted to start the PAC with died of a heart attack on his boat. And that's why, Crabtree said, boaters for a better future have not been registered with the Federal Election Commission or the IRS.
Instead, Boaters for a Brighter Future only exists as a website. And what a website it is. The pages are full of warnings that Democrats are trying to do something ominous to the nation's boats, which is described in a "boatmen" war against "woken up people". In addition to pictures of democratic leaders, the website asks: "Do you trust them with your boat?" The site imagines how armed soldiers block access to a marina.
The Boaters for a Brighter Future website devotes much of its homepage to the declaration that boaters are an enticing target for politicians. This is illustrated by a meme that brings together beautiful women in bikinis and obese men who own boats. It warns that boat owners use their yachts to "sexually exploit" young women on boats for which they pay "by not paying their fair share of taxes."
"As with many stereotypes, that's true," Crabtree admitted. "I don't deny that, but that's the worst." Significantly, Boaters for a Brighter Future also sells tax advice to boat owners.
To collect boaters in 2020, the Boaters for a Brighter Future website outlines an apocalyptic world in which recreational shipping is banned by climate-change-mad Democrats who want to punish boat owners who are "fat cats, cheaters, freeloaders, fascists" consider freaks. "One side claims that Democrats want to ban the three B's:" burgers, babies or boats ".
And yet remarkably, Crabtree said that he doesn't own a boat himself. "You have to think I'm crazy," he said. "You don't really want a boat. You want friends who have boats." And although his website advises boaters of the need to put friends on their boats to convince them to support the president, Crabtree insists that they "are not necessarily for Trump".
Still, it's hard to tell how excited Trumpworld was about the boating community's love - and not just because Trump pinned the video about the PAC to the top of his Twitter account and led even more viewers to the mysterious group.
The Trump campaign sells boaters for Trump hats. They also raved about the various Pro Trump flotillas that became virtual hangouts for those fed up with being crammed into COVID and, more recently, celebrating Trump's birthday. This Sunday there were brigades in Michigan, Florida, California, Texas and other states.
"President Trump has built a movement like no other presidential candidate has ever seen before," Trump campaign deputy press secretary Ken Farnaso said in a statement. “Boaters for Trump is just another example of the enthusiasm for organic grass roots that Joe Biden can only dream of. In stark contrast to the lively support of the President, everyone knows that Biden's candidacy is a sinking ship. "
Trump's promotion of The Boaters for a Brighter Future's website appears to be a random, spontaneous social media reinforcement of that feeling. The website's founders disagree as to whether this could inspire them to register as a legitimate PAC. Crabtree said that any future for organizing would depend on more donations and that they were unlikely to become a PAC so soon before the election. Meanwhile, Morris told The Daily Beast that boaters would "probably" become a PAC for a better future.
Trump's tweet has certainly brought such discussions into high gear. After the tweet, Morris said his phone was blown up because people offered to help the PAC. Boaters for a better future envision a world in which indignant boaters fear that Democrats will ban boating to swing Trump's election. And to achieve this, they have a strategy: "More boaters than voters."
The founders of Boaters for a Brighter Future say that boaters are not the political niche they appear to be. In fact, Morris says that many people who don't own boats would like to take part in a boat parade one day.
"I bet if everyone could they would own a boat - or at least the men," said Morris.
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