Clinton faithful struggle to deal with shock loss
On the eve of the election, Hillary Clinton was standing behind a podium bearing the presidential seal. By the time the votes were counted, Donald Trump had captured the White House in a political earthquake.
Clinton conceded the presidency to Trump in a phone call early yesterday, a stunning end to a campaign that appeared poised right up until election day to make her the nation’s first female president.
Clinton called Trump after it became clear that the celebrity businessman had won enough states to capture the White House. But she made no public appearance before supporters who had gathered under the glass ceiling of New York’s Jacob K. Javits Convention Centre planning to celebrate what was expected to be her historic victory.
“We’re still counting votes and every vote should count,” campaign chairman John Podesta said in brief remarks before the shrinking audience. “Several states are still too close to call and we’re not going to have anything more to say tonight.”
But inside the venue, the mood had already grown increasingly grim as Trump captured battleground states like Florida, North Carolina and Ohio and shattered a long-standing “blue wall” of states in the Upper Midwest that had backed every Democratic candidate since Clinton’s husband, Bill, won the presidency in 1992.
Democrats were left wondering how they misread their country so completely. Clinton’s stunning loss was certain to open painful soul-searching within the party, which had endured a lengthy primary between Clinton and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who drew strong support among liberals, suggesting this was an electorate seeking change.
“The mistake that we made is that we ignored the powerful part of Trump’s message because we hated so much of the rest of his message,” Democratic strategist Chris Kofinis, who was not affiliated with the campaign, said. “The mistake we made is that people would ignore that part and just focus on the negative.”
Inside the food court, located underneath the hall where Clinton had been expected to write her name in the nation’s history books, two young women sobbed, and the alcohol was free-flowing. At a table, two other women stared blankly, their hands on their heads.
“It is surreal,” said one government employee who only gave her first name Margarita, a beer in front of her.
She said she feared a new era in America – not just in terms of politics, but also from those who voted for the 70-year-old Trump.
“Our lives are not safe – as queer women, as brown women,” she said, struggling to put her feelings into words.
Many spoke about what they felt was total ignorance among Trump supporters.
“I think these people probably flunked out of school – they don’t know history, they don’t understand the world,” Elmy Bermejo, who travelled to the Big Apple from San Francisco, said.
Shock was the dominant reaction, rather than anger at what looked like a stunning loss. New York is a Democratic bastion, one that voted for Clinton – and seems far from Trump’s America that disdains Washington insiders.
“We definitely knew it was close – not this close,” said 22-year-old Evynn Stengel, who started drinking before the disheartening results started trickling in. “We feel like we live in a bubble – voting for Trump to me is so shocking.
Additional reporting by Agence France-Presse