An Outsider Looking In: Report from a Clinton Rally at MCC from George Payne

An Outsider Looking In: Report from a Clinton Rally at MCC from George Payne
looking inside

At Monroe Community College, 4/8/16 All photos provided by George Payne

You’ve met George Payne, founder of Gandhi Earth Keepers, on several occasions, including his writings on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Yesterday George was at the Hillary Clinton campaign. George offers a balanced account of his observations, looking in and around.

The venue for Hillary Clinton’s campaign stop at Monroe Community College was The Samuel J. Stabins Health, Physical Education and Recreation Complex. Known on campus as Building # 10, it is an architectural cross between an urban YMCA and a 1980s Soviet research lab that looks just like its name sounds.

On this particular Friday evening in early April, the building’s reddish and charcoal brick facade looked even duller than usual, and the peach tinted clouds seemed heavy and out of shape. There was a line of people which numbered into the hundreds and wrapped around two academic halls, yet there was more of a chill in the air than a buzz.lineThe parking lot was full of cars that students would never drive themselves. Reliable and financially responsible investments such as big, rectangular shaped GMC minivans, colt blue and lime green Honda Civics that will supposedly run forever, and salt-dirt covered Toyota RAVS that have stick figures on the windows. Other than a group of impromptu anti-Clinton protesters at the main entrance, and some vociferous local anarchists stationed across the street where the CNN van was parked, the vibe was unabashedly pro-Clinton and customarily placid.


vociferous local anarchists

Nevertheless, if you really want to know who supports Secretary Clinton, don’t look at the suits next to her on the podium or those who won tickets and showed up hours beforehand to sit in a heated gymnasium.

Look at the folks who had to stay outside — the ones who could not get to the campus in time because they had to work late, pick up the kids, or take care of a million other things, but were still willing to show up, wait outside, and to remain hovered-with cell phones in the air-underneath two  speakerphones in a brisk wind while tiny white pellets of snow splashed on their foreheads. And they did this with whining kids wearing Hello Kitty scarfs and construction bright yellow Spider Man jackets clamoring to go home. These are the ones who stick it out. They are Clinton’s real firewall.

Among this hardcore base of supporters standing in the cold included clapping women with tight L.L. Bean wool fleeces and waterproof leather slippers,  retirees with angel hair thin, mercury grey pony tails, mildly amused Gen X fathers, foreign exchange students fresh off the Niagara Scenic Tour Bus, and a few melancholic Obama supporters mingling about with a look of quiet irritation on their faces. These are the people who actually came to hear Clinton and not just see her. Some of them even bugged the security guards to let them in after the event was over and Clinton was no where to be seen.

As for her speech, I must say that the Secretary was hitting her stride. It was an impressive combination of detailed policy and progressive rallying points. She touched on all of the biggies which play well in a liberal post rust belt city like Rochester:

Florida is a big red flashing light telling us climate change is real;  I went to bat for the people of Flint!;  The fastest way to raise people’s income is to give equal pay to women for the work they do!;  I want to be a good small business President!, I brought broadband to the Adirondacks!;  Before Obamacare there was Hillary Care!I will defend marriage equality!; I will defend voting rights!;  I will support debt free tuition!I will appoint a Supreme Court justice who will overthrow Citizen’s United!

Perhaps the loudest applause came when she once more reminded her audience that President Obama picked her to be Secretary of State and that she was behind the team that finally brought down bin Laden. The other big applause came when she called Trump’s idea to build a wall and have Mexico pay for it an SNL skit. All in all, her entire speech was solid and on point.  I thought Clinton was in top form and did what she needed to do. For her sake, what she needs to do is win New York and Rochester can help her accomplish that goal. This is a city that she took for granted a month ago but now, because of Sanders’ relentless drive and resonating message, must fight like hell to win. It showed in her speech. If Sanders takes Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, and Utica, anything is possible.


One of those Gen X fathers George met, 4/8/16

There was a low point for me. I was severely displeased with the Secretary’s diatribe against gun violence in which she essentially correlated Senator Sander’s votes against the Brady Bill as being indirectly responsible for the carnage in Charleston, S.C. Even if the two candidates have marked differences on gun legislation, to suggest that Sander’s history of voting on this issue is somehow responsible for an insane zealot’s act of unpredictable rampage is simply out of line. It is not the same as voting for a war that lasted more than a decade and cost trillions of dollars and countless human toil. It was a powerful speech but Clinton should aim to hold herself to a much higher standard. Shouldn’t we all?

George Payne

Note: I was also briefly at the rally. George well captures the array of people from all demographics. And how they were committed to waiting in a chilly line touched by a few April snowflakes.


Citizenship in action at the corner of Culver and Parsells



About The Author

Welcome to Talker of the Town! My name is David Kramer. I have a Ph.D in English and teach at Keuka College. I am a former and still active Fellow at the Nazareth College Center for Public History and a Storyteller in Residence at the SmallMatters Institute. Over the years, I have taught at Monroe Community College, the Rochester Institute of Technology and St. John Fisher College. I have published numerous Guest Essays, Letters, Book Reviews and Opinion pieces in The New York Times, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, the Buffalo News, the Rochester Patriot, the Providence Journal, the Providence Business News, the Brown Alumni Magazine, the New London Day, the Boston Herald, the Messenger Post Newspapers, the Wedge, the Empty Closet, the CITY, Lake Affect Magazine and Brighton Connections. My poetry appears in The Criterion: An International Journal in English and Rundenalia and my academic writing in War, Literature and the Arts and Twentieth Century Literary Criticism. Starting in February 2013, I wrote for three Democratic and Chronicle  blogs, "Make City Schools Better," "Unite Rochester," and the "Editorial Board." When my tenure at the D & C  ended, I wanted to continue conversations first begun there. And start new ones.  So we created this new space, Talker of the Town, where all are invited to join. I don’t like to say these posts are “mine.” Very few of them are the sole product of my sometimes overheated imagination. Instead, I call them partnerships and collaborations. Or as they say in education, “peer group work.” Talker of the Town might better be Talkers of the Town. The blog won’t thrive without your leads, text, pictures, ideas, facebook shares, tweets, comments and criticisms.


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