Part One: Opposition or Enemy?

“Once a government is committed to the principle of silencing the voice of opposition, it has only one way to go, and that is down the path of increasingly repressive measures, until it becomes a source of terror to all its citizens and creates a country where everyone lives in fear.” ~Harry S. Truman

The cover of the New Yorker

Ron and I attended the Trump Rally yesterday. We went with an open mind, excited to be a part of history because the last president to have a rally in Johnson City, TN was Gerald Ford in 1976. Friends warned us to be vigilant and very careful because we would be surrounded by very dangerous people in a rabid crowd.

Now, I can understand the fear if we were planning on diving with sharks or jumping into a lion’s cage…but we are talking about fellow citizens…human beings who share the same wants and needs. Surely, we can find common ground. We weren’t going as protesters, only as silent observers of human nature. As recent evacuees from Nicaragua, we were curious to see how democracy worked…or didn’t work in the states.

One of my biggest dilemmas was what to wear. I couldn’t don a MAGA ensemble…that seemed hypocritical. I was the opposition. I wanted to go incognito…diversified in my thoughts. So, I dressed as a New Zealand Kiwi. It seemed fitting because we were in New Zealand during the 2016 election.

We weren’t sure what time to arrive. The doors opened at 4pm, but in talking with some of my friends who planned to attend, they recommended lining up early in the morning. We showed up at 10 am and estimated that there were about 500 people lined up ahead of us. I knew there would be a huge turnout because we live in a very red state. Better to be prepared with water, lunch, and a blanket to survive the brutally hot day.

My plans were to write hourly updates on Facebook with our impressions throughout the day. My first update taught me a lesson. If I am to be a casual open-mined observer, I cannot be offensive. Everyone knows how I feel, but if I resort to name calling then I am as bad as others. I apologized to my friends whom I offended, restricted them on Facebook until my updates were over ( if I had a lapse of civility again! ) and moved on. Believe me, it wasn’t easy but, from now on, I will refer to him as POTUS.

We talked and joked with our line neighbors. Surface conversations, as I call them. They never expressed their political opinions to us, nor did we divulge that we weren’t Republicans. My biggest concern at the time was the lack of portapotties! Our line neighbors to the left of us sympathized with me, although they were all men. They even offered to have a friend drive by and take me to a gas station so we wouldn’t lose our parking space when I had the urge to go.

It was a carnival-like atmosphere. The line moved sporadically and slowly throughout the day and inched closer to Freedom Hall. Just when we were settled into a routine of playing cards, watching games of corn-hole, or taking turns seeking shade under a tree, the line would move again disrupting our entertainment.

No one suspected that we were the opposition. A guy walked passed us with a Democrat sniffing dog, or so he said. To be on the safe side and not expose our cover, I was ready to distract the dog with my ham sandwich.

Another guy selling bibles lamented that he couldn’t sell any bibles because all the Trump supporters had them. One curious thing we noticed was that the street vendors touting their wares up and down the lines were people of color…the only people of color that I could see at the rally. It was not a diversified crowd.

It was difficult to be nonjudgmental. I suspect it is human nature to judge, however, I was determined not to generalize or offend anyone in any way. I had my lapses…don’t we all? This one in particular. This is a horrible generalization I made. There are so many things wrong with my statement. Once again, I apologized for my indiscretion. Unfortunately, it was too late because I didn’t put all my Trump supporting friends on my restricted list on Facebook and I lost several after this statement.

The point I am trying to make in Part One of my post is that I am human. I have lapses in judgment, I say offensive things occasionally, and I regret my inability to hold my tongue, instead lashing out in anger, while mocking those who have different opinions and a different viewpoint in life. There is a fine line of balance I tread in these times of political division…words do matter! Don’t misunderstand me…I am not saying to be silent. Instead choose words carefully…think before reacting…understand the fears we all experience at times in our lives…and be respectful regardless of different political viewpoints. It is hard! I know! But, if we are to begin to understand others, we must take an introspective and realistic look within ourselves first.

Generally speaking, the people around us in line all day were helpful, friendly, and respectful. One man offered me his umbrella when the sun overwhelmed me. A woman had pizza delivered and offered everyone in line near her some pizza. We didn’t discuss politics, but I wonder what they would have said if I offered my opinions respectfully.


If there is one thing I have learned about today, it is that without political division instigated by the media and POTUS working people into a hateful frenzy, I believe we would be kinder and gentler with one another.

Those were my thoughts and feelings throughout the day…until we entered Freedom Hall. Then, I felt like I entered the twilight zone of a mob raging with anger and hatred. What happened to these kind and helpful people? Had I become the enemy?

…my thoughts in Part Two





33 thoughts on “Part One: Opposition or Enemy?

  1. I am a bit surprised by parts of this post. At the beginning you stated your friends told you to expect dangerous people and a rabid crowd – really! Most Trump supporters are average folks who dislike the Dems because of the extreme left wing path they see that party taking. When I was in college, most liberals I associated with were open minded and had a live and let live attitude. Virtually all working class guys were Dems. Those days are over. Today I see so much hate coming from the Dems on the media that it appalls me. I am sure many of your liberal readers will no agree with me. That’s OK. I don’t hate them because we disagree. More people need to take that as an object lesson. We are all Americans

    • Good points, Thomas. I was surprised by the comments of my friends, too. I went to the rally without expectations. I truly wanted to see and talk with the people who avidly support Trump. Yet, I was fearful of starting a confrontation, so I kept my mouth shut about politics and listened and watched.
      If the day hadn’t been so brutally hot, it would have been more enjoyable. I wasn’t surprised to find that the people standing in line were just like me. Like I said in my post, we are all U.S. citizens with wants and needs…human beings trying to find our way in this crazy world.
      I find the hate in the media equally distributed among the left and the right. We are living in a world of “button pushers”. Frankly, I am as much to blame as others, so I have little room to talk. But, I see the division and hate as a dangerous cocktail. There is little I, as an individual can do about it. I just need to remind myself to be aware of my words and not to blame others for my fears, follies, and f@#% ups!

  2. I have to echo “thirdeyemom” as I can’t imagine attending a Trump rally either. Excerpts from the rallies that I watch online show a mob atmosphere and people whipped up to a frenzy of hatred. I always had a hard time imagining how Hitler was able to inspire his followers and sadly, now I know. Did you feel like you were an undercover operative? 🙂 Anita

    • Anita, I am posting Part Two today which will explain how I felt inside the rally. My experiences in standing in line for six hours and inside the rally were drastically different. I was like an undercover operative. lol If you want to find out the truth, go to the source. Although we walked out of the rally in tears and anger, I learned many things about mob mentality vs individual behavior.

  3. I started to drive from Canada to Mexico over 30 years ago and people would ask me is that not dangers and I would say yes but if you can get though the USA you will be all right. JAJA

  4. Good job on the post. The comments were interesting.

    The lack of civility on all sides frightens me. If we can’t discuss, try to find points in common, even agree to disagree, all civilly, we’re in big trouble. And we are. Social media hasn’t helped. It’s too easy to say nasty things when you’re not there in person, but in person there are still plenty hurtful things said. I don’t know the answer, but we need to try to find it.


    • Janet, I agree. I don’t know if we will ever be able to overcome our differences. We have become so polarized. There was a really drunk Trump supporter at the protest area harassing the protesters verbally. The one thing he said that kind of made sense to me, even in his drunken state, was, “Take off your damn sunglasses.” We all need to remove our sunglasses.

      • Another thing that inflames the issues is that people will do and say things in a crowd that they wouldn’t do or say if one-on-one with another person (at least we hope not.) That, together with the anonymity of the internet, causes many problems!

  5. Do you mean that Nicaragua is not close to Johnson City? I say that because I remain amused at how ‘so many’ people don’t know where Costa Rica (It’s that Island out there isn’t it?) or Ecuador etc is/are located! I’m also baffled at how many people defend, ‘There’s no global warming..” yet are not ready to embrace the fact or admit that our planet is sick…. and it’s because we are a greedy species!

    It’s always good to get a smoke signal from you, and I plan to read this again when offline and at home.

    • Hey Lisa, yes. She thought Nicaragua was a city in TN. We used to get that all the time. Some people are geographically challenged. lol
      My point in making that statement was that it was full of assumptions and generalizations about supporters of Trump. I am learning very slowly not to make assumptions and generalizations that can be misinterpreted.

      • Oh yes, sometimes words can be misinterpreted even if we mean well. It takes a brave person to write the posts you’re writing, but sometimes they can be a mirror to all of us – to remember that the world is watching and we are all walking ambassadors… As I stated in your follow-up post, many have lost compassion for our fellow man….. You are amazing and don’t ever let anyone rob you of that title!

    • USA hands down… I get nervous every time I set foot in the US and I now pay extra to avoid landing there to switch flights between Nicaragua and Canada. Nicaragua has a political problem, but the people are ‘tranquilo’. In the US, the culture is on tilt. I have traveled to 40 countries, lived as an expatriot for 12 years in Latin America and Asia, visited war zones, and nothing scares me more than the USA.

    • Bradly, great question. I think it depends on your definition of dangerous. If you mean repression and no freedom of speech, then Nicaragua is more dangerous. People are shot for attending rallies and thrown in jail, tortured and tried in a kangaroo court for being “terrorists”. If you mean guns, then the U.S. is more dangerous with the statistics on mass murders and school shootings. At least we weren’t shot at the Trump rally.

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