I went to a boxing match the other night and a Trump rally broke out.
Well, sort of. Donald Trump, the Republican front-runner in the race for president, has been recently met with protests. Some skirmishes broke out during some rallies and public appearances near St. Louis last week. We all know what happened at Trump’s scheduled ill-advised rally Friday night at the UIC Pavilion.
Trump took his act to Ohio on Saturday. Secret service agents grabbed a man who tried to rush the stage to get near Trump in Vandalia, Ohio. Is this a case where some people are either over enthusiastic or are fed up with Trump’s rhetoric?
Well, Trump has many fans who like his “tell like it is” style. The UIC Pavilion event resulted in many opponents of Trump entering the free event. Some of this was due to organizations that essentially topped Trump at his own game. But many of the Trump opponents who ended up inside the Pavilion and outside protesting were students.
Trump overestimated his appeal. That part of the city is more diverse and UIC reflects that. Trump’s comments would have been more appealing at the Rosemont Horizon or in Rolling Meadows, where Texas Sen. Ted Cruz spoke to an appreciative crowd.
At least we have an Illinois primary that has more impact than in the past. In many instances over the past 20 years, the Illinois primary was an afterthought in the race for president. Unless there were heated local races, the presidential nominees were all but decided before the Illinois primary. That means we are visited by few candidates.
That is until this year. Even with Trump canceling his appearance at the UIC Pavilion, he received coverage across the country. You can’t buy that kind of publicity. Of course, Trump will also continue to spend money to do just that. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders received a warm welcome from a packed house at Argo Community High School in Summit on Friday night. While Cruz could be seen in Rolling Meadows and Glen Ellyn, Hillary Clinton stumped for votes in Vernon Hills and Chicago’s South Side.
The fact that the Illinois primary means something for both Democrats and Republicans is unique. I can’t really remember when that has happened this late in both campaigns. It will be interesting to see how this all plays out.
Perhaps you have to go back to the Watergate hearings or turn a few more pages back to the 1960s. The year 1968 comes to mind because I was entering high school and became more aware of the rapid changes in our culture. It was an explosive year in which many people were angry over our involvement in Vietnam. The battle lines were often drawn between the youth movement -- the baby boomers coming of age -- and the middle-aged.
In some ways there are parallels that can be drawn from that time and today. It is strange that Sanders, 74, appeals to so many college-age students. But his anti-Wall Street message, a need to create more jobs, and to make colleges affordable resonates with younger voters. Trump seems to appeal to people who are angry in general. His problems at recent appearances are his own fault. He has created an atmosphere of hate and intolerance. He will have to tone down the rhetoric if he is going to receive support throughout the country. It may be too late for him.
My father was a Chicago firefighter and that meant he would work various side jobs to help support six kids. I occasionally would assist him when was installing chain-linked fences throughout the city’s South Side. He would often talk about the “Hippies and Yippies” that were arriving in Chicago during that summer. He would discuss it and share some laughs with a co-worker by the name of Charlie Jones, who we would pick up mornings at 95th and Peoria.
I was aware of some activity going on. I mean it was a news-filled summer. I recall after hanging out with friends on a hot summer night in August, I came home to see my parents staring at the TV screen. They told me to sit down and watch. And I did just that. I saw arguments occurring at the Democratic Convention at the International Amphitheater in Chicago. Cameras then began to show the fighting in the streets.
My dad was not too happy with what was going on. It was a lot to register for me as well at the time. But he did pause to tell me that I was living through history.
I believe we are living though history again.