A tale of two rallies, Sanders and Trump

While ideologies differ, anti-establishment message prevails at both

Nicolas Henderson, Staff Writer

There is nothing quite like an election year. There is an energy felt around the country that gets more and more intense as the general election creeps closer.


The idea that after four or eight years, America is about to undergo a drastic change is both an exciting and frightening proposition, but no matter what your view is, there is no denying that election years are special.


This election year is especially significant to me as it is my first time voting, and it happens to fall during my senior year – the perfect storm. While a lot of seniors are probably spending these last few months of the school year looking back and reminiscing on the friends and memories that they will soon leave behind, maybe forever, I have been focused on a heated presidential campaign that is promising big changes for the future.


Am I sentimental? Sure, there is a reason that I have been on a huge R.E.M. kick lately. They have been a part of my life since I was 3, and listening to their music and still loving it the same, if not more than I did when I was little, does make me a bit sentimental and does invoke the feeling of, “Wow, this is really it,” but I am really looking forward to the future. Perhaps the fact that the race has essentially turned my first three class periods into some form of government helps too, as I am starting to figure out that I feel a lot more engaged and interested in those classes.


So what does all of this have to do with me attending the Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders political rallies last week? Probably

The crowd awaiting the Donald Trump rally in Fort Worth. Photo by Nicolas Henderson.
The crowd awaiting the Donald Trump rally in Fort Worth. Photo by Nicolas Henderson.

nothing, but maybe something. I’ll start by comparing the candidates in general. They are running for different parties, with very different platforms, except for one major thing that they share. They are both strongly against the establishment and the establishment is strongly against them.


Perhaps that’s why, as someone who tends to lean more liberal, I didn’t feel too uncomfortable or out of place at the Trump rally. “These are my people, down with establishment,” I thought to myself. Alright, not really, but still it is true to an extent.


People I talked to at the Trump rally, for the most, part appreciated him for his business success and his anti-establishment appeal.


As attendee Mike Chenault said, “He is against the Republican establishment. The Republican establishment is no better than the Democratic party.”


While Trump rallies have become stereotyped as places with prejudice and hate, I honestly didn’t see much of that. There were people of all races there in support of Trump, a metal band roadie, pretty much all walks of life were represented at the Fort Worth event. Aside from one woman towards the front who voiced her displeasure of signs that are written in other languages (‘I don’t care if it’s written in English next to the sign, they need to learn English”), the crowd was relatively civil.


There were protests, but there was not the big shoving match that we saw at a more recent rally that made headlines. Meanwhile, Trump’s rhetoric was pointedly anti-media, anti-Marco Rubio, and of course included a host of personal accomplishments. Trump had about half of the crowd thoroughly engaged, and those who were into it, were very into it. There was undoubtedly an electric energy in the room. With all due respect to a candidate like Ben Carson, it is hard to imagine being at one of his rallies and getting the feeling that you may be in the same room as the future President.


Like him or not, that energy was definitely in the room at the Trump rally.


It cannot go unnoticed though that throughout the short speech (only 30 to 40 minutes at most) there was a constant stream of people heading for the exit. This was not just during the last five minutes of the speech, this was a large amount leaving from the beginning to the end, so perhaps he did not convince a lot of undecided voters with his many promises and few specifics. Outside the rally things were mostly civil, aside from one woman yelling, “All Republicans are Nazi’s.” The Fort Worth Trump crowd mostly ignored her and I left satisfied from experiencing Trump in person while not seeing too much of the ugly side we have heard about in the media.


The next morning I woke up late and angry with myself as I assumed I had lost my chances at a good spot for the Bernie Sanders rally taking place at Verizon Theater in Grand Prairie. When I got there I was in disbelief at how long the line was. Trump might be winning more states, but Sanders undoubtedly won the longer line competition. After about an hour of waiting I finally got inside and went through Secret Service, a far cry from his July rally when I was able to walk into the Sheraton Hotel in Dallas with ease, and no security. Once inside the the theater, I was shocked to find a “standing only” pit right in front of the stage, with a front row spot open that was calling my name.


Much like the Trump rally, the energy inside the room was electric, with new chants being called out throughout the two hours

The crowd awaiting the Bernie Sanders rally in Grand Prairie. Photo by Nicolas Henderson.
The crowd awaiting the Bernie Sanders rally in Grand Prairie. Photo by Nicolas Henderson.

leading up to the event (“Bernie’s got our back, we don’t need no Super PAC”). The pre-event festivities were slightly different though. Approximately an hour before Trump came out, his crowd, which was filled with veterans, participated in a very patriotic Pledge of Allegiance (thanks Donald, I was worried I would miss it since I was not at school). There was no Pledge of Allegiance at the Sanders rally, instead local Denton musician Jessie Frye was given the opportunity to perform three songs, a testament to the fact that Sanders is the only candidate who has publically supported musicians in some way.


The Sanders crowd was both filled with a hopeful energy for the future, and angry at the way things are currently being run and with the fact that the majority of Democrats are still leaning towards Clinton, the establishment candidate. Trump was quick to blame the media, and of course certain immigrants for our problems, while Sanders targeted big corporations buying out politicians as the root problem in America. Both candidates went after their rivals, but each had a different approach.


Trump did not hold back against Florida senator Marco Rubio, calling him a “choker” and “loser,” citing the fact that, “He never shows up for work.” His best moment  was when he imitated Rubio’s sweating at the most recent Republican debate by pouring water across the stage and proclaiming, “Look, it’s Rubio!” Sanders on the other hand didn’t resort to insults, but instead compared his record to hers, citing that she voted for the Iraq War, supported NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) and collected large speaking fees from big corporations such as Goldman Sachs.


Sander’s most Trump-like moment was when he publicly called out Clinton to release the transcripts for those speeches, which

Bernie Sanders speaks to a crowd of over 7,000 in Grand Prairie. Photo by Nicolas Henderson.
Bernie Sanders speaks to a crowd of over 7,000 in Grand Prairie. Photo by Nicolas Henderson.

she said she will do when “everyone else releases there’s.” Sanders wasn’t impressed with her response. “I’m the other!” he proclaimed.


While Trump and Sanders are very different ideologically, both rallies consisted of crowds hungrier for major change in American politics than most probably would be. The anti-establishment message was strong at both, and both crowds were “loud and raucous,” as Sanders put it.


Though both rallies were almost filled with excited supporters, neither candidate secured a Texas victory on Super Tuesday, with Trump losing to Texas Senator Ted Cruz and Sanders losing to Clinton in a blowout. While Sanders has more of an uphill battle than Trump, both candidates have a good shot at shaking up the establishment and American politics as usual.


The race will only get more heated from here, and that’s making 2016 shape up to be a very interesting year. While the media is going to sell Trump vs. Clinton from here on out, another thing that I learned from both rallies is to not always trust the media. They are part of the establishment, and they push their own agendas, even though they shouldn’t. Anything can happen, and that’s something that supporters of every candidate should remember.