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The Many Faces of Donald Trump’s Nashville Rally

President+Trump+walks+onstage+to+begin+his+address.+Image+courtesy+of+the+Tennessean.
President Trump walks onstage to begin his address. Image courtesy of the Tennessean.

President Trump walks onstage to begin his address. Image courtesy of the Tennessean.

President Trump walks onstage to begin his address. Image courtesy of the Tennessean.

Lia Hayduk

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It was 33 degrees when Eliza Hawkins, Hannah Hayes, and I made our trek to Donald Trump’s rally in Nashville on March 15th. As we got out of the car, we were overwhelmed by the masses of people standing in lines that extended for miles farther than our vision. When we ascertained that the probability of our gaining entry into the rally was slim, we decided to pass the time by beginning discussions with those around us.

Our first conversation was with a man and woman from Indiana. They were distraught because they drove such a far distance for the rally that they were probably not going to attend due to the lines. To show their immense support for Trump, they told us that they were willing to drive to Louisville on Monday to attend his next rally. Their intense beliefs were just some of many with which we came in contact.

We asked one group of men, “May we interview you for our school paper?,” to which they scoffed and mumbled about their disdain for the media. They refused to answer any of our questions. Although we were startled by their contempt, it did not come as a complete shock; Donald Trump frequently campaigned against the mainstream media, calling many news outlets untrustworthy.

We were discouraged by this encounter; however, our spirits were lifted when we saw a man carrying a sign that read, “Trump Killed Harambe.” This light-hearted sign brightened our spirits and gave us the motivation to continue with our interviews. Shortly thereafter, we saw a woman carrying a sign that said, “It’s my birthday! #LatinasForTrump”. She was very excited to talk to us and exclaimed, “For me, it’s all about health care. I was paying way too much under Obamacare and I need Trump to lower the costs.”

We then interviewed a very passionate and avid Trump supporter. He proudly draped his large Trump flag around his shoulders, and when we asked him what he liked most about Trump, he was overwhelmed. He exclaimed, “Oh heck! There’s too much I love about him.” A friend answered, “The best thing about Trump is that he isn’t Hillary.”  We then narrowed our question to inquiring solely about their favorite policy that Trump supports. After deliberating with his friends for a few minutes, he explained that the most important policy of Trump’s is his immigration policy. He is a devout supporter of building the wall across the Mexican border and imposing tariffs and border taxes. We asked him if there was anything else he’d like to share and he said, “I love that Donald isn’t politically correct. He says it like it is, and he’s honest. That’s what I love.”

After we concluded that conversation, we met the President and Secretary of the Williamson County Republican Party. They were very disappointed that although they got to the auditorium at 2:30pm for a rally that started at 6:30, they weren’t going to get inside. One of them told us that although she was originally a Ted Cruz supporter, she switched to supporting Trump when he won the Republican Party Nomination. She passionately told us, “No matter who the Republican candidate is, I will always support them and vote for them.” This sense of blind-party voting is increasingly common across America, on both sides of the political spectrum

We then aimed to find millennials, and get their opinions on Trump. We found a group of students from a Catholic school and inquired as to why they support Donald Trump. They explained that abortion was a very important issue to them and that they prefer a President who is pro-life. Additionally, they explained that they would feel safer with a wall along our southern border.

We also spoke to a Harpeth Hall student who we saw at the rally. It was exciting to see a fellow Honeybear getting involved in politics. She stated, “My father owned a healthcare company before President Obama was elected. Soon after President Obama’s healthcare plan was put into motion, my family’s livelihood, like many involved in healthcare, was in jeopardy. Obamacare cut reimbursements so much that my father could no longer make any money.  He had to sell his business because it was no longer profitable. So, I am a Trump supporter mainly out of necessity.” Hearing stories, such of the one of that student, was my favorite part of the rally; it was eye-opening to hear what events in people’s lives lead them to support a specific candidate.

About half-way through our time at the rally, Eliza, Hannah, and I ventured over to where the protesters were. We met a group of three women who are members of the Davidson County Democratic party. They claimed, “To put it simply, I disagree with everything Trump has done. We are all immigrants. Whether your ancestors came here by choice or not, we are a diverse country with many different backgrounds and that should be celebrated, not banned.”

We talked to students from Beech High School that were protesting the President. Their reasons for protesting were simply that they believe that Donald Trump doesn’t respect the rights of immigrants and women. They left school early in order to get to the rally at 1:30pm to protest. During our interview, two Trump supporters approached the protesters. The high school students, who were decked in “I Stand With Planned Parenthood” shirts, were very willing to argue with these Trump supporters. What followed was a fascinating debate about the proposed defunding of Planned Parenthood . The pro-life civilians were explaining their hate for government funds being used to perform abortions. The protesters respectfully explained that since the Hyde Amendment was passed in 1976, government funds have not been used for abortions. Both sides used valid arguments and statistics, and it was a very intelligent and eye-opening argument to watch.

The most shocking moment of the rally was likely when I saw a 14-year-old girl carrying a sign that said, “Love Trumps Hate”. As she walked by the line of Trump supporters, a woman yelled, “YOU SUCK. YOU’RE UGLY. GET A NEW HAIRCUT. YOU LOOK TERRIBLE.” As this woman spewed these hateful statements to a 14-year-old girl, my heart broke. The harassment of children is never justified, no matter how strong the opposition is.  

However, please do not assume that I am equating these interactions with the Republican Party or with President Trump. These were isolated incidents. We talked to hundreds of Trump supporters who were not showing any disrespect and were not screaming at protesters. Additionally, I have no substance to assume that these incidents would not be present at the rallies of different political figures.

While we walked to a nearby street, Eliza, Hannah, and I, were all very excited to see Justin Jones, our Black History Month Assembly Speaker! We spoke with him, and it was comforting to see a familiar face in the crowd. Jones’s activism is such an inspiration to us all, and it was empowering to see him displaying even more civic engagement.

Overall, the rally was fascinating. We met a multitude of people of varying races, genders, socioeconomic backgrounds, and geographic locations. It was very inspiring to see all of these people come together to support a common interest. Nashville is one of the fastest growing cities and I hope that in the future, the two opposing parties can continue to live in harmony with little divisiveness in this incredible city.  Nonetheless, I’m thankful that the President chose Nashville for his rally path and I was empowered to see how much civic engagement exists in my city!

President Trump walks onstage to begin his address.

A family walks together to get in line for the rally.

One Trump supporter sells merchandise as his dog rolls around happily (also wearing a Trump t-shirt).

The rally also saw large groups of protesters who stood across the street holding signs and chanting.

Once inside, people took selfies to commemorate the president’s visit.

One man shows off his customized Titans jersey in the rally.

 

All images courtesy of the Tennessean.

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The Many Faces of Donald Trump’s Nashville Rally