Yesterday, me a few other Wake students and staff had the privilege of seeing President Obama, Secretary Clinton, Roy Cooper, and Alma Adams take the stage and excite rally-goers with promises of progress under the incoming Clinton administration. There were flowery words, fancy musicians, and energetic politicians. Unfortunately, by the time it came to actually hear from the current and next presidents of the United States, I was too tired to care.
In the past three weeks or so, I’ve been lucky to attend not one, but two rallies for Hillary Clinton. I attended both with staff from PHI, and fellow Wake students. Unfortunately, there were a lot of concerns about the organization of the rallies themselves, or perhaps a lack thereof. We can examine yesterday as an example. To successfully attend a Hillary rally, we followed some important steps. We left Winston-Salem around 10:30 am, in two cars. We drove the hour and a half to Charlotte, and then stood outside in 100 degree weather for roughly an hour. There was no water, nor many moments when her field staff weren’t yelling in wasted efforts to organize and process the crowd. After we got inside, we waited for two or so more hours to hear Hillary and Obama speak. The scene inside the Charlotte Convention Center was illusive of a summer music festival, dense crowds and no seating, even for elderly rally-goers who had traveled to stand for at least six hours. During this time, we had the chance to listen to live musicians, local politicians, and ardent Hillary supporters who tried to keep her message alive while we waited, patiently.
With all the time on our hands, I could not help but think of the significance and symbolism of the situation. I hope this is not the epitome of Clinton’s administration. The irony of the scene – elderly women asking security officers if they could possibly sit in one of the 50 or so unused chairs that were reserved for the press – was frustrating, to say the least. In the center of the room there was power and in that power, privilege. There was the podium that all of the politicians took, and immediately around them the local politicians and important supporters, all of whom had seats. From there, you had the supporters who were able-bodied and had the most time on their hands to get there early and stand for hours – at least five. Towards the back of the room, closer to where our group was located, there were dozens of older people who could not stand as long as demanded, who came to support either Obama or Hillary, but could not meet the physical demand of a political rally – so they were situated in the back against walls, watching dozens of chairs go unused and listening to politicians that were far away and unviewable. The words they prepared were wonderful, but with everything else going on, who could notice?
I’m not sure what the specific reason was, but I couldn’t help but to continue to feel a sense of mediocrity. This scene was frustrating, but it could have been worse. Clinton can be frustrating, but she could be worse. She could be Trump. This rally, in many ways, was a microcosm of cities like Washington, where power lives every day. There is power in the center, and the power says wonderful things amidst conditions they can neither see nor understand. For those of us in the back, the conditions were clear. So clear, we wonder why politicians don’t fix them more easily. Why there can’t be better gun control, why there can’t be education and criminal justice reforms, why there hasn’t been more. If Hillary’s rallies can so easily reflect the distance between common citizens and those in power, even when they are all in the same room, what are we looking forward to as we prepare to elect her as the President of the United States?