“You tell your kids don’t be a bully. You tell your kids don’t be a bigot. You tell your kids do your homework and be prepared. Then you have this outcome… What do I tell my children?”
That was political commentator and author Van Jones on CNN, crestfallen over the astounding election of Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States.
Shock and awe were the order of the day as Trump led the Republican march in the counting of votes. Celebrities who had vehemently opposed Trump and rooted for Hillary Clinton took to Twitter to vent their frustration and deep disappointment.
“Anyone else wanna puke,” actress and singer Kristen Bell tweeted. “A true America Horror Story” was actor Cheyenne Jackson’s conclusion. Filmmaker Seth MacFarlane was more specific: “Some didn’t like Bush. Some didn’t like Obama. But this is different. Forget dislike. Many are genuinely fearful now. This is new.”
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Newsrooms paled as the results came in thick and fast. This was an election in which mainstream media houses had taken clear positions.
While TV networks like CNN and talk show anchors made no secret of their revulsion for Trump and his run, a September editorial in The New York Times had condemned his campaign as “marked by bursts of false and outrageous allegations, personal insults, xenophobic nationalism, unapologetic sexism and positions that shift according to his audience and his whims”.
Trump’s stunning victory left a deep dent in media credibility since many had predicted his end, even on the day votes were cast.
A Trump supporter in New York said the media ignored the “silent majority” and danced to the tune of those in power. A small section of the media did report that “many editors and reporters have traded their credibility for a Hillary button”. Social media was abuzz with condescending remarks on the “bias” of the mainstream media.
As America started turning red, there was disbelief, shock, anger — and fear. Van Jones described the result as a “whitelash against a changing country, a black president in part. And that’s the part where the pain comes”. He urged Trump to reassure citizens that “he is going to be president of all the people who he insulted and offended and brushed aside”.
And that’s exactly what Trump did. “I will be president for all Americans, this is so important to me.” He told those who did not vote him that he would reach out to them for guidance and support.
On the other side of the divide, Hillary supporters were in tears, some too “shell shocked” to react. Commentators said it was a moment for soul searching. Many pointed to allegations against the Clinton Foundation, and a campaign among voters that she was not credible, transparent.
Trump’s biggest asset was his outsider tag, someone from outside the system. A Republican supporter, who has been a school teacher for 30 years, emailed to say though Trump was not her first choice as president, she believed he would “cause some positive change” for their community in Ironton, Ohio.
Concerned over job losses in the “rust belt” — the economic region in the US north-east — the closure of coal mines for environmental reasons without an alternate plan, and loss of jobs to India and China due to “poorly negotiated trade deals”, she said Washington had forgotten them.
“The biggest difference is that he is an outsider, not tied down by special interest or favours to powerful elites. He owes no one and he answers to no one. This means he can speak his mind, and for us it means we don’t have to worry that he is secretly in someone’s back pocket. We know Hillary keeps a public and separate private stance on issues, but we don’t have to worry about that with Trump, even though his mouth gets him into trouble sometimes,” she said.
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