We all have those moments in life when you see or meet someone and feel like you’ve met them before — but you really haven’t. Well, that’s exactly how I felt when I saw Donald Trump walk across the stage at his rally in downtown Miami.
As a student double-majoring in broadcast journalism and political science, covering any political event has been my dream since I was old enough to say “Democracy!” But, that’s what it felt like: a dream, a bizarre repetitive dream.
Donald Trump. In the past 15 months, how many times have we seen or heard something about this candidate? Too many to count. He’s on our TV screens, news feeds, magazines, newspapers — you name it, he’s on it. So, when he came out and began his speech with “Welcome to all of you deplorables [sic],” it came as no surprise to me. I’ve seen his campaign stops covered by the largest TV networks over and over again; I almost would have been shocked had he not started with a dig at his opponent. It’s almost as if I knew what he was going to say and the tone he was going to use before he even said it. It’s then that I realized how exposed we’ve been to him. It’s as if he was someone I knew well enough to predict his behavior, yet had only seen in pictures and videos.
As a reporter, in the hours leading up to the event, I began to get nervous. How will he treat the media? He’s kicked media members out before. What if he singles me out because I’m Hispanic? As silly as it may sound now, it was an actual concern of mine. Through the extensive coverage of Trump in the media, we’ve seen his security escort numerous members of the media out — some allegedly by force. But I was ready. I was ready to enter into an auditorium full of people who, at least in my thoughts, hated everything I was.
Not only am I part of the media, who some say has been biased against Trump, but also I’m a first generation American. My dad crossed the very same border that Trump and his supporters want to build a wall across. I’ll get to that point later, but for now, back to the media. I was pleasantly surprised to say the least. Trump’s security members were not as aggressive as I thought they would be. In fact, they actually helped me set up my camera before the event. Sure, that may have been because I looked young and lost in a sea of large network production teams but, still, they were helpful.
But let me tell you, when the event started it was fists and screams everywhere! Well, actually, no, it really wasn’t. It was quite uneventful. Then again, maybe it was uneventful because I was so used to him already. He was Trump. Dear old uncle Trump who comes over once a year for Thanksgiving with his out-of-the-norm ideas.
There were only two outbursts of protesters. Both were handled quickly and without much trouble. Trump alluded to the media being biased against him but overall, he stayed away from the topic.
So finally, I was at ease. Until, it came up. The inevitable topic surrounding the Trump campaign — the wall. It came up briefly, but long enough for my surroundings to feel like I was in a completely different place. With five words, “We will build a wall!” Trump turned the uneventful rally into an uproar of cheers and chants. I heard none of the slurs that have been reported in previous rallies, but it was powerful. It took me a moment to gather my mind again and remind myself that I was there to do my job. Being in uncomfortable situations is part of journalism, isn’t it?
But let me take my journalism hat off for a second. As I looked around at the faces of people who support a policy that would have barred my family from living in this country, I realized something very important. Whether you’re a Trump supporter, Hillary Clinton supporter, Gary Johnson supporter, or even a Mickey Mouse supporter, we’ve all had different experiences that make us view the world differently. Those people shouting “Build the wall! Build the wall!” have had experiences that make them want a wall. On the same note, I’ve had different experiences that make me uneasy about certain policies, including the wall.
Not to say that his opponents are my cup of tea either. But my point is, why are we tearing each other apart over differences? We’ve seen the two main presidential candidates over and over again discussing what they will or will not do. We know them. We know what they will say and how they will say it. We’ve become conditioned to their personalities. They’re not going to change. Trump supporters hate Clinton and vice versa. But on Nov. 9, we will wake up with a new president that not everyone will agree with, and that’s OK. Trump talked about policies based on his own experiences. Clinton talks about the same. Neither Trump nor Clinton are bad people. They just hold different view points on what you or I may think, based on our experiences. But in the end, differences are what make America great (no pun intended).
Putting my journalism hat back on, overall, the Trump rally was so-so. Nothing extremely newsworthy happened during the rally. There were a few quotes from Trump that made headlines, but nothing like we’re used to. Trump was the same Trump that we, as journalists, have grown to have a love-hate relationship with. But still, it was a valuable experience that I will be able to tell future generations about when this 2016 election is in textbooks.