Political Theater Upholds Dangerous Binaries

Disclaimer: This article in no way endorses one political candidate over the other, but is simply meant to make you think about the current state of our political system in America.

We are lucky to be students at USF. As a major research university, it has the reputation and means to draw the attention of national political and intellectual figures. This semester, I have already had the chance to meet some phenomenal women like Cherrie Moraga (an inspirational Chicana feminist), and Cecil Richards (the President of Planned Parenthood). We’ve also been able to host political rallies for both the Democratic and Republican nominees for POTUS during this political cycle.

Seen below is a shot of Donald Trump speaking to a packed Sundome back in February, before he clenched the nomination. I wish I had been able to attend that rally, but I didn’t; therefore, I cannot comment. I just want to make it clear that the rest of this story will be critical of Hillary Clinton’s Rally, and this is in no way an endorsement for Donald Trump.

When I heard Hillary Clinton was coming to USF in September, I felt like I had to go. I was still somewhat on the fence about who I was going to vote for, and I really wanted to hear what she had to say. I was intrigued when I heard that the rally was going to be held in the Recreation Center. I knew that Trump had filled the Sundome, and it seemed odd to me that Hillary wouldn’t have done the same. I entered the Rec Center fairly easily. I told them I would be writing an article for Her Campus, and they didn’t even bother to check my credentials. I noticed first how tiny the room was. There were not rows of chairs, just sections for people to stand in. I wandered around for awhile, listening to people talk and looking for a familiar face to watch the show with.

Below is the best picture that I found which accurately depicts the small size of the room the rally was held in.

There were two sets of bleachers behind the stage, each four rows high. There were people from the Hillary campaign walking through the crowd and selecting people to be put in these seats. I noticed immediately that they were picking people who looked noticeably queer and people who were of color. I followed some friends who had been selected from the crowd, and ended up tucked right behind where Hillary Clinton would be speaking.

That streak of blonde hair, just below the ‘Hill Yes!’ sign is me taking notes during her speech. Those signs, interestingly enough, were made by the campaign and given to people based on who seemed the most enthusiastic. There was someone standing behind us telling us when to stand and what to yell. A bouncy girl, who looked fresh out of college standing on our end of the bleachers coached us.

“You guys are going to yell, ‘Deal me in!’, then they are going to yell back, ‘I’m with her!’”

If we refused to stand or yell, the bubbly girl would just keep harassing us until we gave a half-hearted effort to not get kicked out of the space. I felt at that moment in time, as if it were my duty to occupy that space. To sit there reading ‘The Bluest Eye’, and protest the falsities which I bore witness to. My journalistic integrity won out in the end, and I stood at the right times and pretended to cheer every now and again. Mostly though, I just watched and listened.

The general consensus from everyone around me seemed to be uncertainty. No one seemed genuinely enthused  to be voting for Hillary Clinton. Many women expressed excitement over the prospect of having a woman president, but the room lacked the passion and fervor of the rallies that were held for Barack Obama or Bernie Sanders.

Below is a picture from a Bernie Sanders rally in Tampa, which drew a crowd of 9,000:

The scary reality is that we have found ourselves in a political bind this election cycle. The majority of Americans do not feel akin to either major party’s candidate, but feel compelled still to choose along party lines. We are caught in the political theater, perpetuated by the media, bound by moral obligation to the right or the left. This binary system is not just problematic, it is dangerous.