Here's To Hoping My Biggest Fear Doesn't Come True
As a young, college educated, black millennial, I laced up my bootstraps and attended a Trump rally in Greenville, NC. This is a recount of some of the conversations I had with his supporters, as well as some personal commentary thrown in for good humor.
If you had asked me whether Donald J. Trump would be a successful presidential candidate 15 months ago when he first announced his campaign, I would have balked at such an insinuation. Not the infamous "you're fired" tv personality, notorious for his callous remarks and cutthroat mentality. Not the man who lauds himself for his '"hundreds" of successful business ventures, yet reportedly filed bankruptcy six times in the last 25 years. But here we are. Fifteen months later, and he is in fact the Republican nominee. Now we know that anything is possible in America. My friends and I laughed off the idea that he would make it past the primaries. We thought surely he would have been bullied out of the race by Americans with integrity and common sense that wouldn't allow such a pompous personality to potentially become the next president of The United States of America. But that never happened, and now, 60 days until America's fate is revealed, we are faced with a reality we never thought was possible, which is Trump actually winning. The fact that every millennial has become a heavy political analyst on social media these days, coupled with the fact that my family has a constant news source blasting as white noise 24/7 in our household, means that I've been exposed to a lot of talk about Trump in the last year. I've seen many soundbites and tv edits perfectly packaged to portray him in the worst light possible to encourage voters to support other viable candidates. But on Tuesday, September 6th, 2016, I was presented with the opportunity to see the Donald Trump with my very own eyes and gauge his policies for myself without having to worry about the media's agenda-setting and framing that many viewers don't realize they are victims of. Going To My First Political RallyI corralled my close girlfriend, Sierra to drive to Greenville, NC (approximately a 1 hr, 20 minute drive from Raleigh) with me in hopes of seeing the man of the hour. I wasn't able to leave Raleigh until after 5:45 p.m., so we ended up missing the admissions process because the event staff and police had already taken down the metal detectors and could not admit any more people. Being the curious and undeterred budding journalists that we are, Sierra and I decided to post outside of the entrance to the Greenville Convention Center and ask spectators what they thought of Trump and his candidacy as a whole. Candidly speaking, both Sierra and I were slightly anxious about being in that environment because A) we're both racial minorities, and B) we've seen countless videos and images of the hateful people that happen to also be Trump supporters, so we weren't quite sure what to expect. Luckily, we had pleasant experiences with all our interviewees. Because of the impromptu nature of our interviews, we didn't collect any identifying information from the subjects. We did manage to talk to six people of varying demographics about what they thought of Trump, and this is what they had to offer. Trump SupportersThe first person we spoke to was a young white male looking to be between the ages of 16-20. He was smoking a cigarette and we asked him what he thought of Trump's speech that evening, which was less than 40 minutes long. He said it was "awesome", and that what he liked best about Trump's platform was that he plans to lower business taxes by 10 percent. When I asked him if Trump explained how he would do that, he stammered something inaudibly and said he had to leave. The next two people we approached were middle-aged white females. When asked what they liked most about Trump, they stated, "well, he's not stupid like Hillary!" One of the ladies began rambling about how the Clinton's stole chinaware from the White House when Bill was leaving office and that is why she doesn't like them. The other added, "the Clinton's gave all our resources to NAFTA, and honestly, I like that Trump talks in plain language that I can understand". She also liked that Trump ended his speech with a Bible quote from 1 John 4 which stated: No one man has ever seen God, but if we love one another, God lives in us and His love is made complete in us.By the time we finished talking with the two of them, the crowd was thinning out, but we still wanted to get a little bit more feedback. Luckily, we found three more young males who were willing to speak with us, two of them white, one of them biracial. We asked them why they were Republicans, and the biracial one spoke up saying, "I've always been a Republican because everyone in my family is. Even my dad, who is black. His side of the family didn't talk to him after he refused to vote for [President] Obama, but he stuck to his Republican values, and I am too". When asked what he identified with most as a Republican, he answered, "I am anti-abortion and pro-life". His friends piped in later when I asked what they like about Trump most as a candidate."His mouth gets him in trouble, but I like that he's assertive, knowledgeable, and that he's not a politician. That means he's not a puppet to some greater agenda because he sponsors himself".They, too had to leave, so we thanked them for their time and headed to the car to dissect our findings. We concluded that the people we spoke to, although not representative of all Republicans, North Carolinians, or Trump supporters, were ill-informed on history, politics, and mostly formed shallow opinions on heresey, not facts. Although that can be said of the electorate in general, I feel a little more sound in making my claims now. Trump's supporters know just as much as he does, which is nothing.
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