Around 11p.m. on November 8, boisterous crowds gathered outside the White House in anticipation of a Clinton victory, when a sudden, ominous fear silenced the excited atmosphere. Trump was going to win Florida. And Ohio. She was trailing in Pennsylvania. She was losing key swing states, yet none of this was predicted. The polling aggregate FiveThirtyEight had forecast a 71% chance of a Clinton victory. Here her supporters waited by the hundreds, wondering, why?
A Trump supporter, an American flag wrapped around his shoulders, shouted ‘Build That Wall!’ as he scaled a tree. Below, protestors raised signs that called for ends to racism and bigotry. A tearful couple embraced amongst his yells.
Undoubtedly, Americans are disillusioned with the political elite that answers only to its donors, and Trump’s popularity rose from his promise to ‘Make America Great Again’. He created a falsified image of himself, being of the same elitist socialite circles that Clinton was berated for, posing as a man of and for the people. He gave the masses a scapegoat for their problems: foreigners.
As the night progressed and the chance of a Clinton victory dwindled, the crowds grew increasingly sullen. The District is amongst the nation’s most liberal cities, and Clinton swept D.C. with a whopping 93% of the vote, her largest margin of victory. But still, Trump supporters were in abundance, most having traveled from other states. They swept in and swarmed with pride, attempting to be provocative by chanting ‘Check Your Privilege’ ironically, while sporting Trump’s trademark ‘Make America Great Again’ red caps. They’re here, as one supporter relayed, to ‘fuck being politically correct.’
They tried to make this city, D.C., their own – to take a liberal hub, a historic center for equality and acceptance, and convert it into a realm of rampant toxic nationalism and intolerance. The sentiment did not fare well with liberal Washingtonians. ‘Fuck Donald Trump’ chants became pervasive.
By 3 a.m., the solemn crowds were dissipating. Muffled, distraught cries mixed with the sounds of voracious cheers and applause. Two men shared a tearful kiss. Vice President-Elect Mike Pence wants to comprehensively overturn pro-LGBTQ legislation and remove all protections intended to prevent discrimination.
Large crowds of Latin American immigrants broke out in tears while vowing to stand in solidarity. Others passionately held a banner, even after a Trump victory was obvious, that declared Donald Trump Racist #DumpTrump.
A young Clinton supporter in the crowd expressed his dismay, wiping the tears from his eyes, while still passionately waving his Clinton/Kaine sign. When asked about Clinton, his eyes lit up. ‘There’s never been anyone I’ve been more proud to call a nominee. Unfortunately, the results of this election make me question everything I was born to believe about this country. His win, unfortunately, is a side effect of democracy and a consequential outcome.’
Much of the crowd’s sadness devolved into anger as Trump’s victory became inevitable, and they sought someone to blame. Many expressed how, if the Democratic Party hadn’t committed innumerable ethical violations during its primary contest, there wouldn’t be such deep-seated distrust between the party and people. The anti-establishment sentiment ran deep within voters, but party insiders favored a candidate who the nation viewed as the pinnacle establishment candidate. Progressive millennials were also quick to point out that Bernie Sanders consistently led Trump by double digits, while Clinton’s narrow lead in polls, spanning over the last year, was always disconcerting.
Others showed their support for neither Clinton or Trump, who both possessed historically low favorability ratings. Third party candidates amassed millions of votes as the American public expressed its disgust with the two-party system and political machine. One Gary Johnson voter donned a Reagan/Bush ’84 hat, a nod at a Republican Party that no longer exists, and instead has been hijacked by extremism.
Departing in the wee hours of the morning, the scene reflected the ill fate of a country. Before the White House, there stood the monument of Andrew Jackson in the shadows, looking eerily sinister and triumphant – a man whose racist policies and rampant xenophobia cost a million Native Americans their lives. The sign does not bode well for many.