By Kyeland Jackson —
Suddenly, just as we were about to settle for a risky spot moments after witnessing a poor soul have their car towed, it appeared. Like a light out of the darkness, the clouds worry and anticipation opened up to shine the light of a legitimate, un-tolled, parking spot. I didn’t hesitate. Strapping on the seat belt, I checked my mirror and gunned it backwards to begin a swift and devious take of the opportunity. But alas, a trumpet of warning sounded instead, and I backed into a car behind me. It wasn’t my first but it had been a long time since I had a fender-bender. But within 10 seconds of speaking with the driver, I realized everything would be alright. She was a Bernie supporter, attending the rally as well.
With a mix of investment and appreciation of free stuff, I attended my first political rally May 4. The sequence of events that followed made sure it was a rally I wouldn’t forget.
There couldn’t have been a worse day to drive in downtown Louisville. A perfect storm of traffic began the night that Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders would be hosting a free rally on the Waterfront. The Louisville Bats had a game, Chow Wagon was going on for Derby week and Bill Clinton was coming to town. Coupled with a young horde of Bernie supporters, I was drowning behind the vignette of dull red brake lights. The irritation of waiting two hours for Clinton to speak at a conference irked me into the all-too-easily avoidable traffic accident. Regardless of the irks and long waits, the rally proved to be rejuvenate the energy.
Walking towards the security checkpoint, one would assume the Derby Festival simply extended towards the rally. Vendors sold “Feel the Bern” shirts and tie-die hats and buttons along the way. Supporters surrounding us in line were largely outspoken, talking about the faults of Hilary Clinton’s foreign policy ideals for Syria. One Sanders supporter made his allegiance well known, wearing a shirt emblazoned with “F*** Trump 2016.”
Coincidentally, Trump and Sanders won the Indiana primaries that night, a win that has left Trump as the only candidate for the Republican Party.
After an extensive security check (they didn’t let umbrellas or thermos cups in), I’d finally made it: the inside of a political rally. Music was blasting and smoke seemed to fill the air around the stand. Not daring to brave the thicket of people near the front, we managed a spot next to a TV screen where Sanders would speak. Surrounding us, the supporters wore overwhelmingly normal clothes. Some have hoodies, torn jeans and tie-dye shirts with a Bernie Sanders rendition of the Grateful Dead logo. Out of everyone, I’m probably most out of place with khakis, a dress shirt and tie.
Regardless of looking like the one percent Sanders vilifies so often, the air around me was electric when Sanders took the stage. The crowd cheered and jeered to Sanders as he spoke on the troubles of social security, equality and the economy. He received the biggest cheers after hugging and undocumented citizen in his cheering section, while many booed at his mere mention of Trump’s potential presidency. The crowd surged like the audience of a concert, chanting Sanders’ name as he pushed his message. Sanders ended the rally within an hour, moving on to his next stop in Lexington.
As I reviewed my experience leaving the rally, I took count of all the new experiences of the day. An investment in politics drove me across town to stand for two hours waiting to see presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and former President Bill Clinton speak. Regardless of what some may say about millennials, many my age attended both rallies. It’s perhaps a thing of age, but the growing investment in what happens in the nation and how it affects our daily lives has spread to myself and those around me. No matter how the presidential race ends, it’s going to have a lasting effect on the political involvement of generations to come. The changes in the political climate have been “yuge,” and I doubt they’ll slow down any time soon.