by Micah Wilkins, Editor
After the third or so chant, something like “Let’s Go Joe,” which die down just as quickly as they begin, you started to wonder.
Did that come from an audience member who was genuinely excited to see Joe Biden speak and who felt impatient enough to start chanting his name, or was it prompted by someone else, perhaps one of the organizers of the event?
Vice President Joe Biden’s talk at the University of North Carolina Asheville Tuesday, Oct. 2 probably looked good on camera, but, as an audience member, it felt staged and insincere.
Biden’s speech filled the Justice Center stadium at UNCA, which can hold up to 1,100 people. Several hundred were unable to fit inside the building. Biden hit all the high points of the Obama campaign, and took several opportunities to attack opponent Mitt Romney and his running mate Paul Ryan. He spoke of his and Obama’s focus on education and student debt, the national deficit, and the “rise” of the middle class.
“It’s time that we help the middle class.”
“We will end the war in Afghanistan.”
“We need to invest in America.”
“There is no ‘quit’ in America.”
None of this was what I hadn’t already heard before. But this was no shock to me. What was a shock, however, was the environment of it all. On TV, spectators at these events usually look so thrilled to be where they are, and to be listening to the politicians that they are there to listen to. But now I know that it’s mostly just for show.
We arrived at UNCA around 1 p.m., half an hour before the doors of the event were to open. We were in line for close to two hours. While we waited, several men walked up and down the line (which extended almost the length of the track course at UNCA) selling colorful Obama buttons for $5 each, one of which read “Once You Vote Black You Never Go Back.”
The line moved slowly due to the airport-like security at the front door, and by 3 p.m. we were in our seats.
We made the mistake, however, of sitting in the “Fired Up” section. Those who were in this part of the bleachers were encouraged to be consistently “fired up” throughout his speech, which meant standing and wagging signs around the whole time. We were not allowed to bring in signs of our own, so the organizers conveniently placed several homemade-looking signs on our bleachers, so that we would hold them up as if we had made them.
“Everything about this is scripted,” the man in the row in front of me said. He was the one holding up the handmade-looking “NC ♥ JOE” sign for most of his speech.
In addition to the handmade signs were official Obama Biden signs that were being distributed by the organizers.
“Does anyone need a sign?”
“Does everyone have a sign?”
“What about you, do you need a sign?”
After 15 minutes of this, I took a damn sign just so they’d stop yelling.
At one point during Biden’s speech, a person behind us shouted, hoping to get his attention “Hey Biden, what about drones?”
This protester, and others, were quickly removed from the building, however, and Biden continued on with his speech without a pause.
I suppose that all of the encouragement to be “Fired Up” and enthusiastic is to help the campaign, to get people energetic to see a powerful leader of the country speak, and to get them excited about democracy and the upcoming election. However all the “encouragement” (the directions really) had the opposite effect on me. After Biden’s speech, I was turned off by the campaign. Walking back to the car, I felt underwhelmed, and a little deceived. The energy created in that stadium Tuesday felt like a false energy. With all the applause after every couple words, it seemed to lose its meaning.