Trump vs. Sanders: North Carolina rallies in comparison

Helen Rogalski, Managing Editor

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With spring break falling the week before the North Carolina primaries, many candidates hosted rallies across the state, and conveniently, I was able to attend two of them: one for Donald Trump and one for Bernie Sanders.

Both candidates have a heavy following and are well known on college campuses across America. Trump has gained a following because of his intense plans, including the removal of all Muslims from the country, and for his infamous wall separating Mexico from the US. Sanders is known for his big plans to make public universities more affordable and for pursuing a political reform across America.

While both candidates express contagious and influential ideas with fervor and possess a passion to change America, their rallies could not have been more different.

First came Donald Trump’s rally with the famous captionMake America Great Again. It was hosted in Fayetteville on March 9. Having only ever been to a rally for President Obama during his candidacy in 2008, I knew I was charting into unknown territory.

Walking up to the Crown Center Coliseum for the event, I saw many people selling Trump merchandise. There were countlessMake America Great Againhats, in combination with “Donald f*cking Trump” t-shirts, buttons and magnets.

The first moment my jaw dropped was when a man heavily advertised his shirts that saidHillary sucks but not as much as Monica Lewinskyand told us he carried a size “sexy” for us ladies. People around me seemed to enjoy these shirts, but I had to wonder if anyone could actually wear one outside of a Trump event.

One thing I can say in admiration of Trump is that he was timely. He was scheduled to speak at 7 pm, but I had assumed he would have several people speak before him, as Obama did in 2008. To my surprise, after a quick speech from two women preaching thatall lives matter,Donald himself came on stage at approximately 7:03.

The crowd was beyond enthusiastic about his appearance.Make America Great Againsigns filled the crowd, and roars of admiration came across after nearly every statement he made.

Trump covered exactly which topics I expected: Syrian refugees (no, don’t take them), ISIS (he plans totake them out), the wall on the border (Mexico will pay for it), and Ted Cruz (he’s a “liar”).

None of what Trump said surprised me. What surprised me was the reaction from the audience. Most cheered ferociously at everything Trump had to say. When he brought up the criticism he faced in Florida for leading the crowd at his rally in a pledge to vote for him, people voluntarily, without asking, raised their hands straight in the air signaling their own pledge. Then, Trump led the thousands of people in a promise to vote for him on Tuesday and in turn “Make America Great Again.

Even more shocking than the intense support for Trump was the amount of outbursts and fights that occurred. Just a few short minutes into his speech, someone up front and close to the stage got thrown out, to which Trump replied,Go home to mom. There were countless outbursts, many punches thrown and lots of booing from the crowd at those who opposed Trump.

I sat in silence as ten, twelve, fifteen people, and then some, got thrown out. Every time someone would burst out, everyone around them would boo until the entire crowd joined in and security took them away. There was almost as much booing towards the protestors as there were cheers for Trump.

While I do not agree with Trump and his stance on many important topics, my friends and I had no plans of protesting. After seeing how protestors were treated, it confirmed one of the many reasons why that was not on our agenda. This event was intense and scary for many reasons.

I wanted to go to the Trump rally because I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. I wanted a clearer understanding of just how many and how extreme his supporters were. And that, I got. People, whether in support or in protest, care what Trump has to say about anything and everything.

After making it home safely from the Trump rally, I geared up for my next one: Bernie Sanders in Raleigh on March 11. If I could describe theMake America Great Againrally in one word, it would be angry. In contrast, I would describe the Bernie Sanders rally as empowered.

My experience at the Sanders rally was incredibly different. For starters, I have cared what Sanders has to say from the early stages of his campaign. So, as a supporter, I was excited to attend his rally and hear him speak for a second time.

Unfortunately, the arena reached capacity before we got to the entrance, which was disappointing. However, because there were thousands of us still outside in the heat, Senator Bernie Sanders came out and spoke to us before going inside for the main event.

In a brief, ten minute speech, Sanders too touched on everything I expected: changing Wall Street, providing more benefits to the American people and making college education cheaper. People were as enthusiastic about Sanders as they were for Trump. However, Sanders spoke of something more, something greater, that surprised and impressed people, myself included.

To end his speech, Sanders spoke of the importance of the American people’s involvement in the country and its government today. He stressed the need to vote, but more importantly, he reminded us all of the impact the general population has on the entire country. He reminded us that things change in America when the people care enough to speak up about it. He reminded us that we have a say and that what we say as a whole has a great impact on the future of America. And, he spoke of the need for a political revolution.

After attending both rallies, the candidates themselves may be incredibly different, but both ultimately wanted the same thing: fundamental change in America. While these changes differ greatly, both rallies reminded me of the importance of knowing what changes I want to see as a voter. How I want America to be in the future. What I find important. Above all, they reminded me that we all, as college students, have an actual influence on the outcome of this election.