Kentucky crowd cheers valedictorian’s Trump quote, then finds out Obama said it
Last weekend, high schools all over America held graduation ceremonies. It's a major event in your life, as you move on from happy, carefree childhood to miserable, soul-crushing adulthood. But before the diplomas are handed out, a speech is given by the valedictorian, which is Latin for "huge nerd." These commencement speakers usually impart words of wisdom to inspire their peers. However, one 18-year-old in Pineville, Kentucky took the opportunity to totally troll the audience.
"This is the part of my speech where I share some inspirational quotes I found on Google," said Ben Bowling, the valedictorian of Bell County High School. "'Don’t just get involved. Fight for your seat at the table. Better yet, fight for a seat at the head of the table’ — Donald J. Trump." The crowd erupted into cheers and applause. However, Ben wasn't finished. "Just kidding,” he continued. "That was Barack Obama." The cheering immediately died out, followed by awkward silence, and a lone boo.
Bell County is the heart of coal country, and an overwhelmingly conservative region. During the 2016 election, 82 percent of its constituents voted for Donald Trump. In fact, every election in recent history has been a landslide for Republicans. In 2008, John McCain received 71 percent of Bell County's votes; and in 2012, Mitt Romney received 76 percent. Trump is even more popular due to his promise to bring back jobs. Last week. he ordered Energy Secretary Rick Perry to "prepare immediate steps" to stop unprofitable coal and nuclear plants from closing.
The quote Ben used is from President Obama's commencement speech to the graduating class of Barnard College in 2012. "I just thought it was a really good quote," he told The Louisville Courier Journal. "Most people wouldn’t like it if I used it, so I thought I’d use Donald Trump’s name. It is southeastern Kentucky after all." However, he didn't mean to stir any trouble. He just thought it would be funny. "The crowd erupted in applause," said Ben. "and before they could even finish clapping I said I was kidding and the applause quickly died."
Richard Gambrel, the principal of Bell County High School, spoke to The New York Times about the moment. He described Ben as "very politically aware" and said "most of [the crowd] probably got the joke." However, he was surprised nobody recognized the quote, noting, "It proves that people don’t read or pay attention."
The crowd’s reaction reveals a lot about American politics. People cheer for an inspiring quote if it's by someone in their political party. But as soon as they find out it's actually by someone in another political party, they don't like it anymore. In fact, they dislike it, and boo! It's strange how some citizens treat politics like sports, rooting for one 'team' to 'win' at all costs. To quote Donald Trump, "There's not a liberal America and a conservative America - there's the United States of America." Just kidding. That was Barack Obama again.