CommonSpace columnist David Carr gives his immediate and personal reaction to the US election result
MY girlfriend set her phone alarm alarm for 4.30am to see the result. "Oh no," she said, "it’s not looking good." That was it. No more sleep.
We lay and talked it over. We thought of the human effects on people like my friends, Ryan and Meg. Ryan is a Kiwi academic in Nebraska. with whom one day I will have a drink. They have genuine fears for his green card status and the loss of his job and career.
In our friendships, real life or online, we tend to hold views broadly similar to our own. In the run-up to the election I got most of my information via Facebook from my various online friends. Some of it was hard for a non-wonk to follow. Americans seem to have a natural facility with the arcana of electoral colleges.
Famous from the start, not because of politics, but for his dodgy deals and self-promoting celebrity, Trump broke the GOP and made it all the way.
This campaign started to get interesting very early on when two faces entered the contention. One I’ll come to later.
The first was a newcomer, a dishevelled, white-haired Democratic senator from Vermont; an outsider, inexperienced in every way who, his vest visible through his short-sleeved shirt, sounding like Occupy. And he was packing out halls in every state.
And he nearly won, but the Clintons taught the Blairites everything they know: you can’t have popular socialism breaking out among the masses, so with a bit or electoral college arcanery, in came Hillary.
At this a debate – acrimonious at times – broke out as to the validity of a third party vote for those who disliked Clinton. This led me to some byways when I had a wee peek at the the Greens’ Jill Stein, and the Libertarians’ Gary Johnson – who thinks it is reasonable to apply "market solutions" to things like water rationing following a hurricane. Get out your credit card.
But the campaign proper gained a sense of urgency because of the other face that had been present from the start – Donald Trump. Famous from the start, not because of politics, but for his dodgy deals and self-promoting celebrity, he broke the GOP and made it all the way.
Along the way my friends were increasingly anxious. The incidence of racist, sexist and homophobic abuse never far away in parts of America was intensifying.
And along the way my friends were increasingly anxious. The incidence of racist, sexist and homophobic abuse never far away in parts of America was intensifying: there were racist remarks at cashier desks, and the worst kind of sexist language directed at Clinton, along with the knowledge that some of those who hold such attitudes are armed.
But he looked like winning. The worse he behaved the better he did. I started to feel that, objectively speaking, the Democrats had selected a weak candidate if she were not even able to defeat Trump.
And then the results came in.
Most of my American friends are shocked.
I had a chat with my oldest internet friend, Jane Ellen. We go way back before Facebook. She was distraught enough to message me. On a personal level, she is concerned about what will happen to her and all her friends with disabilities.
There’s another Facebook Group I belong to whose membership is people, mainly Americans, called David Carr. One David Carr, a hard-working windows contractor from Maryland, is particularly active. He likes to post pictures of him and his wife eating crabs and drinking Bud.
A while ago the topic of Colin Kaepernick, the football player who refused to stand for the national anthem, came up. Carr doesn’t approve: Kaepernick makes a fortune, he doesn't have to worry about his health insurance or whether the inspection sticker on his car is valid.
There were racist remarks at cashier desks, and the worst kind of sexist language directed at Clinton, along with the knowledge that some of those who hold such attitudes are armed.
And of Black Lives Matter, Carr simply asks who the protesters are going to call if they get robbed. So today I asked my fellow David Carr's how they were feeling.
David Carr of Ohio just said "Trump!"
David Carr of Tennessee said that the Democrats had had eight years to change things and it’s time the Republicans had a turn.
David Carr from Texas and David Carr from Florida wondered about what changes there are likely to be.
But getting back to David Carr of Maryland, his concern is the price of his daughter’s diabetes medication from Wal-Mart. I’ve explained that this is hard for me to imagine, living where I do. But he just has to work more to look after his beloved family. I’ve seen him post from motels when he’s on a road trip away from his wife.
I have no great conclusion to draw from this trawl through my Facebook. We are where we are. America isn’t in good shape to start with. Trump will disappoint many. Some will be angry. There are people under literal attack. What is to be done?
I have a tradition of posting songs on my Facebook page at apt moments. Here’s what I posted a short time ago. "What they can never kill went on to organise."
Picture courtesy of Johnny Silvercloud
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