A lot can be taken from attending presidential candidate rallies
November 8, 2016
“We are going to bring our great jobs back to America. We are going to change Washington, and get rid of the corruption that Crooked Hillary has permeated throughout our government,” the infamous voice rang out across six measly speakers as the remaining crowd fought to get up to the door where Donald J. Trump’s secret service stood.
Attending one of Trump’s last rallies was never a plan I had in mind, nor did I fancy to get up close and personal with many spirited protests that the rallies bring upon the candidate. However, once learning Trump would be less than two hours away at University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire on Nov. 1, I knew that the once in a lifetime opportunity would mean being a part of one of the most controversial elections in history.
If anyone thinks they will be first in the door by arriving more than two hours early, they are wrong. The W.L. Zorn Arena turned out to be substantially smaller than the nearly two miles of three person deep lines, and admittedly it took some substantial cutting to join the supporters on the floor of the arena.
However, there were many elements to the experience that made it enlightening, other than the 35 remaining minutes of Trump’s speech after getting through security.
Upon arriving at the rally, the most apparent occurrence was the large group of protesters, who irritatingly shouted, “The pussy grabs back, don’t support Donald Trump’s attack!”
The glares I had received while walking past this crowd was astounding. To witness the protests on any major news telecast is one thing, but to feel the energy of seething hatred is another. Passing by, it’s best to ignore these crowds therefore not to provoke, however this did not hold true and I ended up being spat on.
This was very confounding, actually. To watch a crowd shout, “Spread love, peace and acceptance,” to also hear the overwhelming amount of anti-attack chants, I found it odd that the person who spat on me felt it was not hypocritical to do so.
Following those confrontations, it was back to the end of the line- two miles away. As a student it is shocking to find a sense of community within a group when you are used to being surrounded by social confrontations and negative liberal-driven spam Instagram accounts. The same accounts that constantly bleed, “If you are a Trumpee, you can kill yourself.”
Even as I sit typing this, the students next to me are discussing about how they unfollowed a close friend on Snapchat, because she posted videos of a more recent rally, that was held at MSP on Nov. 6.
The crowds, which brought upon laughs and giggles, hugs, and community, found common ground in the discussion of politics and how unsuited Clinton is for presidency. Personally, I found comfort in an older woman who asked if I wanted a photo with her, as she held two black-lettered glittery signs that read, “Women for Trump.”
And of course there were the passersby holding signs that read, “Hillary for prison,” and even small skits with supporters dressed up as Clinton in a prison uniform.
Once the sun set, the cold of autumn began to creep in as the strong New York accent made its way across the speakers. Immediately, the crowd began seething with eager, but our excitement was halted when a secret service agent made his way back to notify us our chances of entry were slim, but we could however, walk up to the speakers.
I did not drive nearly two hours to miss what I had came for, and admittedly my next choice of action may have not been the most morally correct- I cut. Moving up to about 12 feet from the entrance, an older woman said, “Hey just because you’re little doesn’t mean you can cut!”
Being at the front of the line meant more immature encounters with protests. Two college students in front of me made this a very laughable experience when I reflect upon it, although I was rather uncomfortable in the seething glares of the protesters.
As I made my way to the edge of the shoulder-to-shoulder supporters to snatch a picture of the protests, the men emerged in shouts.
One, being latino was drop-dead screaming, “Latinos para Trump!” Otherwise known in America as the infamous slogan, “Latinos for trump.”
The other, a lanky pale man with white-blue eyes shouted, “Bill Clinton is dad! And there is about maybe another hundred of us!”
As a student journalist, I never condone the immature bashing that this race has consisted of, but admittedly I did share a laugh with surrounding supporters in the direction of the two men.
Seeing women, children, African Americans, Asian Americans, all wear “Make America Great Again” hats is truly an odd experience, but nothing had prepared me for the wave of screams I would receive in the next 10 minutes.
We got to the door. In the rushed hustle to squeeze in, I recall being frisked with an agent, and then frisked a second time by another. The TSA-style search confiscated all liquids and completely disorganized my wallet- however, all for the protection of Trump and his supporters.
Emerging into the arena, the first thing to strike me was how substantially small it was, and how uncrowded the arena floor was. Trump himself, stood broad, moving his hands in front of his teleprompter perfectly mirroring how he is portrayed on television. The media, a technology blur and wired nest of reporters frantically moving their large teleconverter lenses to align with Trump seethed with tense writers and reporters gathering their thoughts.
“We are bringing jobs back to America everyone, we cannot let a crook determine the future of our country!” Trump said with his usual flick of fiery determination.
The crowd, emerged into chants of, “President Trump! President Trump! President Trump!”
Never have I witnessed such a large group coming together in common values- nor did I predict to feel such a positive energy at the very rally of one of our most controversial candidates. Moving forward in the crowd, I made my way to the very front, finding myself within feet of Trump- and finding a torn pink sign on the ground that read, “Women for Trump.”
I picked it up and immediately started waving it, no shame, nobody to tell me I was inhumane, no friends to lose- and nobody to tell me to kill myself for my values. The experience can make a once closet voter, into an empowered, opinionated citizen.
Following the election, Trump won the electorate vote- a historical win when all odds were against him. As a journalist, I could not take more pride in being able to take part in one of his rallies.
Your vote is never invalid, nor is your opinion. Regardless of your political party, participating in one of the most controversial elections in history is positive activism. So yes, continue to support your side, even if he is considered a “defaming, pussy grabbing bigot,” by your friends- because at the end of the day it is activism and education that will bound our country to a better future, regardless of bias.