Trump train heading South

Trump train heading South

Matt Zelenin, 2016 Presidential Correspondent

Donald Trump: the man, the myth, the legend.  His name elicits an emotional response from anyone involved in the American political scene, whether they support or oppose his campaign.  The intense nationalism he stirs at his rallies using mob mentality tactics makes his presidential run one of the most controversial in the history of the country.  Few people can say, however, that they have had the opportunity to see Trump live, at one of his many rallies or speeches.  To fully experience and understand the appeal of the Trump campaign, I went with three other South students to a rally in Louisville, Kentucky, to see what the hype was all about.

The first thing I noticed was the incredible line of people waiting in the cold Louisville weather to listen to a live speech delivered by Trump.  The line was full of what seemed like relatively normal people; I’m sure most of them were.  About midway through the line, a man with a gray beard in ragged clothing serenaded us with a song of his own creation, based around the hook “Make America Great Again.”  The crowd and environment seemed so festive, it seemed impossible that the man everyone was coming to see was hated by so many across the nation.

Eventually, we reached the front of the line.  We were greeted by mediocre security and were merely required to step through a metal detector like what you would see at an airport.  Thankfully, we passed security, and made our way up the steps to the convention center in the building.

The area that soon would house a Trump rally was certainly large, but not ornate or decorated; the closest thing it could be compared to would be a high school gym.  The doors opened only at 1 p.m.; we arrived around 1:30 p.m. or so, but already the lobby was beginning to fill up.  Excited to meet some Trump supporters, we found a sparse place in the crowd, and attempted to move up to get a better view.  

As we tried to move forward in the crowd, we soon discovered the people around us did not want us to push ahead.  We realized that this event was not like a music concert; people were here to see Trump, and they were going to preserve their spots in the crowd like birthrights.  While their claim to their space was certainly justified, it proved to be an important foreshadowing for the events that were to come.

After two hours of standing in a raucous crowd, and about five repetitions of the same 7-song playlist, it was announced that Trump was backstage and would be ready to start off the rally in 15 minutes. Following short introductions by a renowned local priest and Chris Christie, possibly the most hated man in America came walking from behind the curtain up to the podium that rose over the event.  “Wow!”, he exclaimed, referring to the size of the crowd that came to see him.

I wish I could say that Trump said anything unusual, anything unexpected during his rally.  But, as he is often criticized for, he repeated the same things he says at every event he hosts.  Some Trumpisms included:  “We don’t win anymore,” “Build the wall!”, “We have a problem!”, etc.  He covered the different areas of his platform like a fifth-grader checks off the requirements for a project on his rubric; he skipped from topic to topic without any sort of transition or natural flow, and he never delved into any specific information on a certain, specific topic.

During his spiel, I couldn’t help notice the Black Lives Matter protesters standing near where I was, holding signs and booing whenever everyone else in the crowd cheered.  These nonviolent actions from the protesters began to attract attention from the Trump supporters around us, who began pushing them around, cursing at them and telling them to leave.  Throughout the speech Trump personally used his signature line several times to remove people from the rally: “Get ‘em out of here!”  It was truly saddening to see such a negative response to peaceful forms of protest.

Eventually, Trump retired from the podium, and the rally was officially over.  While the journey to see Trump was certainly exciting, it lacked a sense of completion to it; there was no happy ending to the story.  What I saw at the rally were people with a fear of the future, not necessarily evil, but passionate enough for a man with little political experience to come in and tell them everything would be OK if he was elected.  The violence and hatred that was contained in that room when Trump was speaking did little to suggest his presidency would be a prosperous one.  Yet, stepping outside of the convention center, the first thing that met my eyes warmed my heart immensely.  Hundreds of people were gathered around the entrance protesting.  There was no violence, no fear-mongering in the crowd; it was actually similar to what a real political rally should be like.  

The Trump movement may be a large one, but the way America will be made great again is certainly not under the leadership of the racist, misogynistic man that led the rally in Louisville, Kentucky that day.  It is our duty as citizens to rise up against a force which threatens our ideals as Americans; voting against Trump in the upcoming election will be the only way to ensure a great future for America.  If elected president, Trump will eat babies.