Williamsburg, Brooklyn. 09/11/16 1a.m.
She was leading when we left Manhattan, but it wasn’t a good lead, even an optimistic lead, but it was a lead. Tearing up Bedford Avenue toward a self-proclaimed ‘election party’ and refreshing CNN frantically on my phone, North Carolina on the verge of decision, I had never felt so sick to my stomach over a political decision, especially one completely out of my hands.
The remnants of the ‘party’ that remained were quiet — eerily so — as we approached the usually raucous smoking area. It felt almost as if the cigarettes were a break from a long, hard day at work that wasn’t going well. Quickly inhaled, a scratch of the head, and a rush to get back inside to the screens and never-ending streams of numbers.
I was greeted by a groan and a very disgruntled Floridian friend, fuming with her friends from home who had voted for the third party candidate in a ‘protest vote’, essentially helping to gift Donald Trump the state that was the first turning point of the evening.
“‘It’s not good,” she whimpered, “I can’t believe it, this insanity”. Heads turned at the word insanity and just nodded, bleakly – a collective pause to reflect on the mayhem coming up on the enormous screen in the bar.
The hours continued as such and conversation became more difficult, strained even. Disbelief clouded our ability to converse in an even sombre manner. I struggled for words amongst a predominantly American crowd, wanting to scream at them all for their ineptitude, but knowing it wasn’t their fault – safe in the knowledge that in this bar filled with those in the 21-30 age group, there were no Trump supporters. US millennials are smarter than that. Statistics released later, much in tune with those of what they continually refer to as ‘The Brexit’, determined the country’s youth could not be blamed for this abominable mistake. The white middle-aged man was named as the parasite who had come to the polls in their millions to vote for one of their own – the white man who could not accept the change that had rung through the eight years of the Obama administration; the white man who had to draw the line at woman.
More states came in, more bad news – an intermittent win for the one we were all there for, but no shouting anymore. This was no time for celebration.
“If she doesn’t get all of Michigan, Wisconsin, New Hampshire, she’s done,” one commentator says with a sorry American pint in her hand. She shrugs, biting her lip, and returns to face the screen, where ABC News have chosen to represent both Republicans and Democrats on their panel. The Republicans smile consistently, whether at the overconfidence of their opponents facing them hours ago, or at the prospect of regaining control of Washington; the House, the Senate and the Oval. Their over-whitened teeth and annoying repetition of the words ‘under-dog’ and ‘new-age’ had us asking the bartender why they had not put the democratic CNN coverage on the screen, to which we got a curt, pissy answer from the evidently fed-up barman – “that wasn’t my decision.”
The crowd thinned. A drunken French man slurring his words tried it on with of the girls in our broken circle to no avail – “I hate men tonight. If it was any other night – maybe. But tonight, I hate them all.”
A murmur of agreement goes up from the surrounding females, and myself, who wants to ring the necks of all those men who couldn’t see past the figure, the face and sex of Clinton, who couldn’t see her for what she was – qualified.
I have to leave. Calling an Uber quietly on my phone, in an attempt to make an ‘Irish Exit’, one of the girls notices – ‘You’re not leaving are you?!’ she asks, ‘You can’t go. What if there’s a miracle, what if you miss it? It’ll be like the best feel-good film of the year!’
Only I know there’s going to be no miracle, it’s too far gone at this stage. The race is lost, the game is up. In a cloud of ugly sexism, racism and homophobia, the monster has triumphed and the feature film that would have been has been shelved for another four years, when the ceiling task will resurface and another opponent will rise to face it, against every odd now.
Did she ever even stand a chance?