Vonda McDaniel, left, speaks to presidential debate demonstrators near Belmont University. Photo by Clint Confehr

By Clint Confehr

EDGEHILL, TN — Voters want good jobs, health care, and pensions, an AFL-CIO Executive Council member told demonstrators Oct. 22 near Belmont University before the presidential debate.

“We are in the heart of a red state,” said Vonda McDaniel, president of the Nashville/Middle Tennessee Central Labor Council. “Tennesseans have different opinions on moral issues, but we can agree that we want jobs with family-sustaining wages … jobs that provide health care and a dignified pension.”

Nearby, “Democrats for Life” is what Harriett Bradley’s sign said. Another woman wore what seemed to be pajamas with a repeating pattern of Trump’s face. “Orangeman good,” she said, walking across a driveway where a crowd waited for the candidates.

McDaniel led a march to Magnolia Avenue and Wedgwood Boulevard. While marching, unionists received Biden-Harris signs from Democrats near coffee and smoothie shops. Former Trump voter Shannon Mulcahy lost her job at Reynard Manufacturing, Indianapolis, Ind. “He said he’d stop our jobs from going to Mexico, but they did.” United Steelworkers are gone there, she said, indicating the plant’s closed. Her message: “Stop offshoring” and “Keep jobs here.”

Julie Ford of Robertson County waved a white Trump flag at traffic near the “Dump Trump” sign held by Elizabeth Williams, a naturalized citizen “from U-K” who said there were “not as many” demonstrators as “expected.”

Ava Frank, Ft. Wayne, Ind., came in a commuter van with 13 others working for Created Equal in Ohio. They “urge voters to vote anti-abortion,” she said.

Some anti-abortion protesters held placards with aborted fetus photos.

Among hundreds of demonstrators were national and foreign journalists including David Mirejovsky, a Czech Republic TV correspondent. Nearby was Michael Higgins of Big Hit Sports International. Its Facebook pages show athletic training in Prague. Higgins of Franklin likes Trump. “Immigration is important,” he said, “but we need to be more open and accepting.”

Never a Trump supporter, Lauren Roling of Middle Tennessee advocates Marquita Bradshaw for Senate. Roling wanted Bernie Sanders for president.

Another demonstrator, Brenda Waybrant of Nashville, said Belmont University shouldn’t accept funding from Nashville-based CoreCivic, a prison management business. Nashville filmmaker Paige McKay wants: “People over profit; Rights for all; and Vote Trump out.”

Madelyn Clemmons’ hat says “Trump Hair Don’t Care.” The daughter of Sam and Shannon Clemmons of Oak Hill attended an Emerson College class by zoom on her laptop computer while standing on her brother’s front yard in Edgehill. “I go to a very liberal school and have to be ready to give my reasons” for supporting Trump’s re-election. Her reasons include a good economy; gun rights; and pro-life policies.

Edgehill residents Ruth Davis and her daughter, Dr. Dorothy Turner watched demonstrators to see a part of history. Turner voted every time she could. “With the divisiveness, it’s important that you vote and have your voice heard,” Turner said. Davis has: lived in Philadelphia; is impressed with Barack Obama’s public service; and said, “We are deeply impressed with Kamala Harris, our AKA sorority sister.”

Also ‘just watching’ history were Collins Agyeman and Vandy classmate Rudy Broome. Agyeman’s parents immigrated from Ghana and live in Houston. Broome’s from Oakland.

David Knorr’s placard showed a cartoon of a fly on white hair holding a Biden-Harris sign. It says, “Dude, there’s a fly on your head.” Knorr, Atlanta, got his masters at Vanderbilt.

Clint Confehr

Clint Confehr — an American journalist since 1972 — first wrote for The Tennessee Tribune in 1999. His news writing and photography in South Central Tennessee and the Nashville Metropolitan Statistical...