Wednesday morning I wake, my hand groping in the dark for my phone. Today’s a big day. America will have a new President.
A solitary eye opens, struggling to focus on the screen. I check Twitter. Why can’t anyone just tweet the result? Ah, here it is…No…It can’t be? It’s Brexit all over again…
‘Donald Trump to be US President’!I race downstairs. ‘Morning everyone, or should I say ‘mourning” (not the time for bad puns). I turn on the news.
“But Trump can’t win Dad, can he?” my eight year old Liam asks.
I eat breakfast. Bran flakes, if you’re wondering. Andrew Neil looks shattered. He’d been broadcasting on the BBC when I went to bed the night before and here he was this morning, still going strong. You’d forgive him for seeming a bit delirious – no sleep, a crazy result. I mean, Donald Trump’s going to the White House!
Morbid curiosity to see the result confirmed nagged away at me – like the car crash you see on the motorway which you just can’t help glancing at.
And then he appeared. The man himself. Donald J Trump.
The nonsense he’s spat out during this campaign. The inappropriate comments. The farcical rhetoric. The lies. Over 60% of his campaign claims were lies, stats say. Did no one care about that?
‘I’ve just taken a call from Secretary Clinton’ declared Trump. ‘I want to make America great again!’ It’s over. Trump’s going to the White House.
I got in the car and went to work. ‘How can people vote for him?’
But I don’t blame the people. Not completely anyway. The people that voted for Trump. The people that voted for Brexit.
There’s hate all around us. There’s fear. There’s anger, rage, resentment. And Trump – and Farage for that matter – have used these feelings of insecurity to whip disenfranchised people into a frenzy. People are sick of politicians. They’re sick of their salaries staying the same while the cost of living rises all around them. Every year. They’re scared of the increasingly dangerous world we live in.I turn the car radio on. Rachel Burden is on Radio 5 Live in New York. Back in Manchester Nicky Campbell is talking way too much . As always. Trying to throw needlessly long words into sentences as if today’s the day to perform linguistic acrobatics. Burden is talking to voters in New York. People are stunned. They’re in disbelief. Even Trump supporters are stunned. Maybe it’s because it’s 4 in the morning there. Or maybe it’s because Trump’s going to the White House?
I get to work. ‘What the hell’s going on?’ we discuss. No one can understand it. Or maybe we can but we don’t want to think about the consequences. I mean, I get that people are angry, but Trump isn’t the answer. Farage isn’t the answer. I look at Facebook and friends in America are distraught. ‘There’s a fascist uprising’. ‘Us liberals need to fight back’. There’s a photoshopped picture of the Statue of Liberty with her hands over her face. It’s a powerful image.
After work I get in the car and put the radio back on. Rachel Burden is STILL talking! Tell me she’s been to bed while I’ve been working? She’s still being brilliant, talking to voters. New York voted 59% in favour of Hillary – these people are upset.
I learn new words. ‘Isolationism’. Trump may take America out of NATO. He’ll focus on American issues and step back from foreign intervention. Putin will like this. It’ll allow him to encroach on the Baltics further, I hear. Sounds plausible. Sounds terrifying.
Hillary speaks! She wishes the Donald well?! She’s emotional. It’s probably her best speech of the whole campaign. Why didn’t she speak like this earlier?
Obama speaks! He wants to help Trump make a success of his Presidency! This is the same Obama who just a few weeks ago said if Trump couldn’t operate his own Twitter account, he couldn’t be President. ‘Strange days indeed’, as John Lennon would say.
‘Imagine all the people, living life in peace?’ I bloody hope so, John.
Donald Trump will be the next President of America – it’s like a cruel joke. In the words of the great Leonard Cohen, who died on Thursday night at the age of 82, I don’t know whether to ‘laugh and cry, or cry and laugh about it all again’.