Daytona Bike Week just vanished into memory and what seemed to be most memorable about rally this year was that it marked the first anniversary of Bikers For Trump.
There do not seem to be many people in the English speaking world who haven’t heard of Bikers For Trump. The group has three Facebook pages: The original Bikers For Trump 2016 page has 241,610 followers; another page called Bikers For Trump is followed by 21,733, and another 1,035 people like another page with the same name. Two-thousand seven hundred fifty-three people have donated $148,240 to a Go Fund Me page that group founder Chris Cox created last June.
Last July, candidate Trump tweeted, “Thank you to Chris Cox and Bikers for Trump – Your support has been amazing. I will never forget. MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!”
And in January, after Cox bragged his followers would form a “wall of meat” to protect Trump from protesters at his inauguration, President elect Trump tweeted, “People are pouring into Washington in record numbers. Bikers for Trump are on their way….”
Cox was banging his drum in Daytona last week. At the Broken Spoke Saloon on Wednesday he told a crowd, “The biker has never before been seen as a demographic in a presidential campaign race. And now we’re in a position to swing votes.”
The extent of Cox’s political power remains debatable but he hardly discovered bikers who vote.
During the 2008 presidential campaign John McCain appeared at the Buffalo Chip Campground during the Sturgis Rally with his wife where he was greeted by a big crowd, loud cheers and revving engines. “This is my first time here but I recognize that sound. It’s the sound of freedom,” McCain said. Six weeks later McCain appeared with Sarah Palin and a bike building family called the Teutels – who at the time had a television show titled Orange County Choppers – at a rally in Media, Pennsylvania. McCain stood by a motorcycle and vowed, “Sarah and I are going to get on that chopper and ride it right to Washington and raise hell when we get there.”
Not to be one-upped, during the same campaign, the Democrats and the AFL-CIO started a group called “Bikers for Obama” which amounted to about 30 guys from the Letter Carriers and the Teamsters. Meanwhile, Vladimir Putin is an honorary member of the Night Wolves. Then Chris Cox invented Bikers For Trump. Life happened in that order.
There has recently been a little speculation about how much Cox counts with motorcycle enthusiasts and what Trump is after when he portrays Harley-Davidson as a friend of American labor.
An article in the Guardian last week addressed the subject and quoted both George Christie – who is not a Trump fan – and a professional, New York based branding expert named David Langton. Langton told the British daily paper, “Harley Davidson is the perfect brand for president Trump to associate himself with. It’s rugged, regular-guy, tough and not too elite. It’s not fussy (or Italian) like Moto Guzzi. It’s not the efficient machines of Yamaha or Honda (or Japanese). It’s all American. There is a short-term advantage for the brand to associate with Trump’s form of politics. But since Harley-Davidson has a long established brand they do need to be careful in aligning themselves with Trump. Because Harley-Davison is a long-term, quality brand and Trump, alas, isn’t.”
Eventually everybody can decide whether Bikers For Trump is, like Harley, “a long-term, quality brand” or just the current version of Joe the Plumber Wurzelbacher. Cox seems to think he is becoming a player. He told the Daytona Beach News “his organization is planning its first international push into Germany and France.”