Talk of the Quad: Humanity trumps ideological differences
The sky sprinkled dirty rain when we arrived in Lisbon, Maine. The five of us sat in my car freaked out, excited and laughing. We got out and walked to the mega-church. A sign read, “Welcome Donald J. Trump.” I let out a protracted sigh that translated as a “what the hell am I doing here?”
Some background on me. I’m a privileged, liberal, Jewish kid from Washington, D.C. I went to school with congressmen’s children and once took my pants off in front of Malia Obama (long story—it was a track meet). I do not fit the typical demographic of a Trump rally.
Around 3 p.m. last Thursday, a friend of mine asked if I wanted to go to the Trump rally in Lisbon. Being young and always on the quest for the ironic, I said “of course.”In all fairness to myself, I also thought the rally was historically significant and worth checking out.
I spent a lot of time thinking about what to wear to the rally. Trying to hide my identity, I settled on some jeans, a fleece-lined flannel and a backward Nationals hat (maybe a giveaway?).
I topped it all off with a cigarette that dangled out of my mouth.
I recruited three other friends to come to the rally. Each of them was also somewhat out of place at Trump rally. Two were persons of color, one was a member of BCA and the other fit my description as a privileged, liberal, Jewish kid (but he was from Los Angeles).
What first struck me about the rally was how close it was to Bowdoin. Lisbon is only 30 minutes from Brunswick.Trump signs sprayed through Lisbon’s scenery. The town was definitely excited for the billionaire’s arrival.
Standing in line for the rally, I was struck by the vastly different ages of people there. In front of us, there was a group of high schoolers. Behind us, there was an elderly couple. Wishfully, I wondered whether or not these people were all Trump supporters. Perhaps they, like me, wanted to check out the event for irony’s sake.
Unfortunately the event was sold out and people, including us, were turned away. Even though I had wanted to see Trump speak, this gave us the opportunity to talk to some of his supporters.
I quickly changed the way I spoke. I picked up on my grandmother’s southern drawl and started using “y’all.” One of my friends asked why I was using a southern accent in Maine. I said I didn’t know, but it just seemed to fit.
We went up to two middle-aged women from North Yarmouth. They were friendly, but a little put off by my southern accent. They had gotten tickets for the event, but arrived too late. The seven of us had a nice chat until one of my friends brought up that two protesters had been removed from the mega-church.
One of the women speculated that the protestors were hired by the Clinton campaign. “Every protester that has gotten themselves beat up or beat up people at all Trump rallies were hired by Hillary,” she said.
When I asked the other woman if she thought it was true, she answered in the passive, “It was proven.”
I think those three words best describe Trump’s campaign and the election. Those words imply non-specificity. They suggest someone “proved” it, but they don’t say whom. Finally, and most importantly, they demonstrate the distance Clinton and Trump have from each other. Rarely on Bowdoin’s campus do I interact with a Trump supporter. I suspect these women rarely come into contact with a Hillary supporter. I knew what they were saying was false, but they were convinced that it was the truth.
My adventure into the ironic proved to be a learning experience. The country is polarized; exploring other viewpoints has become satirical. Not understanding and not conversing with people that have different opinions has left us isolated. I disagree with perhaps everything Trump supporters believe. But his supporters are people. If they can respect me then I must respect them.
Jack Arnholz is a member of the Class of 2019.