On a Saturday so scintillating only explicable as the luck of the Irish, a few dozen supporters of Bernie Sanders gathered and marched in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in downtown Rochester.
Not planned as a major event like the boisterous and well attended rally on February 27th , the march on the sunny afternoon felt like a leisurely spring training Grapefruit League game in Florida. After all, St. Patrick’s Day Parades are pretty much about green beer — not dissecting the nuances of a contested convention.
But if the Sanders supporters were a baseball team, they were in good spirits (green or otherwise). They were behind in the standings, but it wasn’t yet the 9th inning. Maybe only the 6th. And look at Ohio where pollster guru Nate Silver had given Bernie less than a 1% chance. And the national polls keep saying the same thing. Bernie handily beats Trump, while Hillary holds only a slim lead. And if the tide turns, the Super Delegates will be pressured to go with Bernie. It aint over till its over.
After the march, a few Sanders supporters set up a table at the Bug Jar on Monroe Avenbue to offer Bernie stuff and keep the vibe going. Most people were there for the band, but in the crowd were a fair share of red, white and blue buttons.
The most energetic force behind the table was Hillary Bialecki (featured above), a 23 year old Geneseo college student studying to be a social worker This is the first election that Hillary really cares about. And boy does she care. Bouncing around inside the Jar answering questions and when outside waving her placard with the zeal of the best car wash fundraiser.
When I arrived, Hillary was bickering outside with three young men grunged up in high Bug Jar fashion. Not exactly representative of the general electoral public, political views at the Jar range from the radical to the random to the proudly non existent. My sense was the three young men — playing their appointed role as street cynics — wanted to get Hillary’s goat as they had determined she was too idealistic and cheerful, if not too boppy.
First they said they were anarchists who only cared about music. Then Trump was their man. They didn’t care what he stood for but Trump had balls. And maybe a big penis. They were flexible as Sanders was cool because he was a communist. But they weren’t voting anyway and Hillary was wasting her time carrying the sign above her head that was more like a guillotine. As they left maybe to get high in the park on Broadway across from the School Without Walls, Hillary didn’t give up. “Don’t come back complaining when we don’t have single payer health care.” Hillary, I thought, please just let them not vote.
Outside the Bug Jar I also my saw first definitive Trump supporters. The New York primary is not until April and urban Rochester does not feel like Trump territory. In my Brighton cocoon, there are Bernie signs sprinkled but nary a Donald. Around town I don’t recall seeing any Trump bumper stickers, although there must be some.
As Hillary waved her sign to passing cars on Monroe — busy now as the Parade was ending — a decent number honked in approval. But, not once but three times in a short time span, from cars — each filled with young, yes, white men — came full throated, perhaps green beery, shouts: Trump, Trump, Trump.
Their shouts were not like the banter of the three non-voting pro-Trump communists. Trump is their man.
Probably Hillary should not have taken the bait, but she shouted back — although I am sure they did not hear her — “So all you care about is white people?” To Hillary, when people — especially men — yell Trump they are in denial about every demographic trend staring them in the face. “They need to deal with it,” she added. Hillary also said if Bernie loses she’ll be completely devastated. Not to mention if Trump wins.
I felt like yelling back, if wage stagnation and the decline of the working classes feel like the guillotine this Hillary is carrying, at least just vote for Sanders. I doubt you like the other Hillary.
But I doubt they would have heard. So intent they were on just yelling, Trump.Trump supporters will say I am brainwashed — and maybe I am — but I am dreading those Trump yard signs, bumper stickers, buttons and shouts. It’s going to be a long summer wondering, like Freud, what do Trumps really want?
NOTE: After reading this post, my friend Athesia Benjamin, an artist and college art teacher you met at the MAG, told me about her own St. Patrick’s Day encounter, this one not so lucky.
Athesia was at Archimage on Monroe Avenue Saturday after the Parade. She reports hearing a group of people walk by and shout “Trump 2016!” And a few seconds later, “White power!”
In the ten years or so I have known Athesia, we’ve talked about art and life. I don’t particularly recall any political conversations. But Athesia is so alarmed by what she thinks Trump represents, she is starting her own blog, 2016electiongotmelike, to record such incidents.