Be politically aware, understanding during Trump’s stop in Waco

Gwen Ueding | Cartoonist

By The Editorial Board

Waco is former president Donald Trump’s first stop on his 2024 presidential campaign. He will be arriving on the 30th anniversary of the Branch Davidian siege despite facing criminal charges. Around 10,000 people are expected to be at the rally which is happening at 5 p.m. Saturday at the Waco Regional Airport.

Most of us have heard the grumbling from students about Waco and how underwhelming it can be, but it’s an important place on the map with a lot of high-profile media coverage. There’s a reason Waco is Trump’s city of choice — and we’re wondering why.

Regardless of your opinion of Trump or why he’s coming to Waco, a former president selecting our city as a campaign kickoff is a significant event we need to be aware of.

An article from USA Today did a deep-dive into the potential reasons Trump picked Waco and the political relevance of the siege of the Branch Davidian compound. Featuring multiple expert opinions and a variety of reasoning, the general conclusion was that Trump’s visit is sending a message to the far right.

Distrust of the federal government and favoring independence could be seen as trends in our area because of those historical events, USA Today said in their article. The idea is that Trump may be utilizing that to connect to voters, as he’s been very public in his criticism of governmental figures and other agencies. Cofounder of the Global Project Against Hate and Extremism, Heidi Beirich, told USA Today that Waco is “hugely symbolic.”

That being said, Trump’s campaign spokesperson Steven Cheung told TIME that Trump is going to Waco because ​​“it is centrally located and close to all four of Texas’ biggest metropolitan areas — Dallas-Ft. Worth, Houston, Austin and San Antonio — while providing the necessary infrastructure to hold a rally of this magnitude.”

This level of media attention could help or hinder local businesses, depending on how you look at it. On one hand, the crowds of people coming in to see the former president will need someplace to eat and stay the night, bringing money to restaurants and hotels. However, some local business owners may find themselves beginning to be tied together with strong political associations the event brings.

In recent years, businesses have turned away customers based on political beliefs or instate rules regarding their employees’ wearing political insignia. We have lived through many historical events, many of which were political in some way, and it seems like there’s another significant headline every day. Making the effort to constantly educate yourself on politics can be draining, but it’s a necessity to making the most out of our country’s future.

Being educated on the political status of where you live is vital to knowing what your voting options are and how that candidate will influence your area if elected, even as a Baylor student. Sure, politics aren’t for everyone, but whoever ends up in office impacts the entire country. A 2018 survey from Gallup found about 52% of Americans say who the president is affects their happiness.

Texas voters favor Trump over potential opponent Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and won McLennan County by 23%. If you’re registered to vote in Texas, or anywhere for that matter, researching candidates and following their progress is your responsibility as a voter.