Those Americans who went to bed at a normal time may well be waking up around now to discover who is their new President-elect – the Trump.
I woke at 05:30 UK time, about 00:30 East Coast time, to discover that my hopes for the USA had been dashed by Americans. I wasn’t pleased, but I’m getting used to waking up to bad electoral news; the 2015 general election, the EU referendum and now this. As a three-time loser maybe that’s why this one didn’t feel quite so crushing – maybe I’m just getting used to it.
We’ll have to see what happens, of course. Maybe it won’t be as bad as we fear. Maybe Donald Trump does believe in climate change after all. Maybe he will be remembered as the great environmental President. Maybe, maybe, maybe.
I like the USA and I like, taken as a whole, Americans too. I’ve travelled in the USA a fair bit, two long road trips in the last six years, and I look at the map of states coloured in blue and red and remember places I’ve been and breakfasts I’ve eaten.
I can’t help wondering how various waitresses from Honea Path, South Carolina to Salina, Utah (not once, but twice) and from Hardinsburgh, Kentucky (A Message from Martha pp 87-88) to Fordyce, Arkansas voted. These are all Republican states in the Trump/Clinton contest, and they are all in Republican counties too (I checked) so that probably gives us a clue. But my mind also goes back to a breakfast in Ohio, near where the last (?) Passenger Pigeon in the wild was shot (A Message from Martha pp 100-103) and I’m pretty sure I know how some of the customers there will have voted.
Although I can’t connect with those people I met, I do feel connected to the USA even though it’s a long way away. Obviously I have memories of its people, its wildlife and its scenery from my visits, but even if I had never been there I still would have known that the American people’s decision is a big one and one that will almost certainly have an impact on me, those that I care about and the world that I care about.
Two of my friends have used the word ‘scary’ in talking about the Trump election. That says a lot about our world. We know enough about a far-away leader to be scared by his election. The world is a small enough, and interconnected enough, place to mean that a vote in Arkansas affects your life too.
27 years ago today, the Berlin Wall came down and I remember holding my baby daughter in my arms and thinking that the world was becoming a better place and that progress was progressing. This evening there will be fathers holding their daughters and contemplating the possibility of a wall going up on the USA-Mexico border sometime soon, and wondering whether progress has gone into reverse.