Flint, MI– Mary McDonald’s birthday is Nov. 3. Her only wish is that Joe Biden is elected president.
On Oct. 31, McDonald stood outside the entrance of Northwestern High School sporting a green Alpha Kappa Alpha zip-up jacket (the same sorority Biden’s running mate Sen. Kamala Harris is in) and a matching Biden/Harris facemask.
She was waiting for her friends to pick her up, she said. They’ve been sitting in a mile-long line along Carpenter Road to get into the drive-in rally for Biden. Only 250 pre-registered cars were allowed into the lot where he would be speaking along with Former President Barack Obama, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Mayor Sheldon Neeley, Congressman Dan Kildee, and others.
“It’s time for change in that White House,” she said. “Trump has downplayed [the coronavirus] from the beginning…and look what’s happening now, surges all across the United States of America and still no plan. But Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are gonna change things starting day one.”
McDonald scrolled through her phone to pull up a video of her three-year-old great granddaughter, Yelena Soberanis, dancing and singing about Biden having a plan. She joked that the voting age should be three years old.
“There’s never been a president who has been so embarrassing as Donald Trump,” she said. “I mean, the children! They hear things like ‘stupid’ and ‘bastard’ and all this stuff that children shouldn’t hear.”
Many people waiting in the car line at the event echoed her sentiments, and said they felt a Biden presidency would bring something different.
Jim McFall of Flint said Biden’s morals and principles are what he supports.
“I’m tired of the chaos,” he said, “I want to return to some normalcy, and I’m looking forward to a blue wave.”
Sisters Debbie and Wendy from Pontiac and Holly said they voted for Biden in hopes of achieving “unity, healing and peace.”
Kelly Coates said she feels her moral values are in line with Biden’s in terms of public education, environmental issues and inclusivity.
Even after a four-hour car ride from Mackinac Island, Coates said she was “still fired up.”
Some people came from even farther–journalists from Australia and Norway were in attendance.
Mathias Ask works for TV2 Norway and Vegard Kvaale write for Dagbladet, one of Norway’s largest newspapers.
“The whole world is watching what’s happening here, it’s a big deal for everyone” said Kvaale.
But Biden’s visit to Flint was especially meaningful to the people from here.
Areanna Robertson said she works in Washington D.C. but came back to her hometown just to see Obama speak. She brought an oversized picture of Time Magazine’s cover on the water crisis; a little boy with rashes on his forehead and cheeks.
Water warrior Claudia Perkins-Milton said she was so excited that she would jump the fence to get in if she had to.
Flint resident Elizabeth Jordan and her two children Miles, 5 and Kenneth, 10 waited in line for an hour and a half.
“[My kids] have opinions about this election. I think it’s important that they have a chance to participate in the process,” Jordan said.
Miles said that if he were old enough to vote he would vote for Biden because he “wears a mask.”
Flint City Councilman Eric Mays said he was honored that Obama would come to Flint a second time, and hoped Biden and other speakers would address the Flint water crisis lawsuit settlement, the economy as it relates to Flint, and the moral character of elected officials.
“When you look at Trump and his character, he says he’ll grab women. He talks about that. I couldn’t get elected if my mouth said such a nasty thing,” Mays said. “And then when you talk about telling the truth, fact finding, and then lying repeatedly…we got some local elected liars and we got some national elected liars.”
Mays was disappointed in the line of school buses barracading the event for security because they blocked the view for people unable to get inside.
“I want the First Ward residents and others to be able to park across the street and stand and look,” he said. “But I think they’ll be able to hear.”
Nancy Roser and Vickie Smith were two of many residents parked in the grass across the street because they were unable to get tickets to attend the event.
They didn’t come to the event together, but you wouldn’t know it by the way they stood together, talking, laughing, dancing, air high-fiving Biden supporters across the street and boo-ing the trucks that drove by waving Trump flags.
“I’m so excited. I parked just to get the ambience,” Roser said.
Roser is a retired teacher for Flint community schools, and said she paid more in taxes living on retirement income than Trump paid last year.
“This regime has got to end, and he has got to go,” she said.
Smith retired from working in unemployment for the State of Michigan, and said it’s scary to think about Trump winning the election.
“He messed up so much for our futures,” Smith said. “I hope we don’t ever see this again.”
Despite their disappointment with the last four years, the two said they are excited and hopeful for the upcoming election, and happy to be at the event.
“This is an awesome moment in history for Flint,” Roser said.