On Saturday, March 18, I had the opportunity to attend the Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump rallies in Salt Lake City. This election year is the first in a very long time that candidates have campaigned in Utah, since our state has been overwhelmingly Republican for the majority of the last 50 years. This election is so different, largely due to the polarity of Donald Trump, who has many Republicans questioning the validity of their party and jumping ship.
When I first heard about the rallies in Salt Lake City, I instantly recognized this as a rare opportunity to experience the political climate of a presidential election, and I decided to go. So, with two friends, Casey Facer and Kasie Bussard, we left Ephraim around 10:00 that morning and headed toward Heritage Park in Salt Lake. The Sanders rally was scheduled to open at noon and start at 3, so we went there first.
When we first arrived, parking was scarce. We finally found a spot about a half mile from the venue, so we walked quite a ways to get there. However, the walk from the car wasn’t even the longest walk we had. We came up from behind the venue so we first saw the start of the line, and quickly realized we were in for a long wait. The journey to find the back of the line took about 10 minutes by itself, and the wait in line took all of about 2 and a half hours.
During our wait in line, I made an interesting observation. At any rally, the masses will become victim to a mob mentality, and this one was no different. However, this mob mentality was not one of violence, not anger, but rather, kindness. I observed many people going out of their way to do good unto others, at a rate I’d rarely seen before. If someone had a water bottle, they would often offer some water to the people around them, even with strangers. One time my group had to jump out of the line for a moment to wait for a friend, and when we were set to rejoin the line a lady insisted that we go in front of her, so that we didn’t have to wait another hour or two.
When we finally entered the rally, the kindness was only perpetuated. Even while Sanders was speaking and everyone was getting riled up, people were very good about making sure everyone had ample room to stand, or even sit if they were tired. Bernie Sanders’ rally in Salt Lake City had a huge turnout of around 14,000 people. When he finally arrived the speak, his fans were ecstatic. He spoke on issues like education, healthcare, climate change, and what he describes as a “corrupt campaign finance system.”
After the rally ended, we found out that Donald Trump’s rally was being held downtown at the Infinity Center starting at 7:00 PM. We decided this would be a good opportunity to compare and contrast the environments of the rallie, and the two candidates. The traffic getting out of the Sanders rally was so heavy that it took us about an hour to get in line for the Trump rally. What I experienced there was much different.
While waiting in line, my friends and I, being against Trump on most accounts, stayed mostly silent. After about thirty minutes of waiting, we were told that the venue was full, and that nobody else would be getting in. After hearing this we dropped our disguises and quickly joined the larger group of protestors that was forming across the street. This is where I succumbed to mob mentality. The large protesting group was equally matched by a large Pro-Trump group on the other side of the street, and a large shouting match ensued. While part of the protest, I participated in chants like “Love Not Hate!”, “Dump Trump!”, and “Hey hey! Ho ho! Donald Trump has got to go!” While the other side was chanting things like “Trump tells the truth!” and “Build The Wall!” Oddly enough, one of the most common chants on both sides was “USA! USA! USA!” It was interesting to me that people who seemingly couldn’t be more divided were invoking the same claim to USA.
I suppose that is the main point I want to make. Elections seasons, especially this one, seem to divide people based on who they support. For some reason a Trump supporter can’t be friends with a Sanders supporter.Society believes that they must fight and argue. America has issues for sure, and it is good to talk about them and bring our differences to the table. However, I believe it is important to remember that ultimately, we are all fighting for the same thing, the United States of America. In this upcoming election, remember that even though many people have different views, we are all Americans.