Opinion: The Night Donald Trump Became President

New York - Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and his wife Melania Trump cast their votes at their polling place at PS 59 Beekman Hill International on Election Day. Photo by Ann Singer/BU News Service
Written by MJ Tidwell

This is a personal essay detailing one reporter’s experience in New York City on the night Donald J. Trump won the United States presidency.

By MJ Tidwell
BU News Service

NEW YORK CITY— Standing in the Whiskey Trader, a bar midway between Trump Tower and Trump election headquarters, a group of men wearing bright red hats bump chests as election results trickle in.

“We got Florida,” yells a man in a too-tight T-shirt with Make America Great Again across the chest, pounding on the bar. A waitress in tiny short shorts watches the men from behind the register.

“I knew I was going to be crying either way tonight,” she says, before carrying more pitchers of Bud Light to a table where a rowdy game of beer pong is taking place.

The table is situated directly by the restrooms. As the few women in the bar pass by, the men pause their game to stop them, ask if the women like their hats, if they support Trump, if they’re single and ready to celebrate.

Some of the men separate from the group at the table to talk to three women charging their phones at the bar’s lone available outlet, this reporter being one of them.

“You ladies look like you voted for Trump,” says one of the men who declined to give his name. “Well, maybe not you. The blondes all voted for Trump, but you look like you’re too pretty to have voted for Trump.”

Another man, wearing the ubiquitous red Make America Great Again hat and a shark tooth necklace, is pressed to explain his support for Trump. He also declines to give his name, saying he is a former Bernie Sanders supporter.

“Okay,” he says, “Are you an economist? What’s the most important thing for the economy, like what would be the injecting heroin of the economy? Yes, that’s right: growth. But you know what the fastest way to growth is? Wars. And that’s all that Shillary and the Obama Administration do. They start wars and kill people in other countries to falsely simulate growth here.”

Shillary is a nickname many of the men use for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, saying she shills or pretends to have the good of the many in mind when she is actually acting in her own personal interest.

The man says he is Lebanese-American and has just spent several months on and off in Russia. There, he says, he saw that people in Russia have no problem with Americans but that Clinton and Obama have used decades-old Cold War fears to incite tensions with Russia.

“This also happened with Egypt and Libya,” he says. “Shillary and Obama came in, and those people — they had a democracy of their own — and then they come in and said, ‘This isn’t our kind of democracy,’ and they took over.”

A young man named Richard, who is visiting from England, surveys the scene with a half smile as the TV results show Trump leading 244 to Clinton’s 218 Electoral College votes.

“I’m not surprised,” he says, “This is just another Brexit. We’ve already seen what’s going to happen.”

As the clock hits 12:59 a.m., the race is too close to call with several key states in a virtual tie. Distant sounds of shouting filter into the bar from outside.

On the street, Trump supporters crowd police cordons and massive trucks filled with sand that line the sidewalks, holding handmade signs with phrases like “drain the swamp,” “lock her up” and “blacks for Trump”.

The media is lined up on both sides, craning for a view of guests entering the Hilton for the Trump election party. Two older men are being interviewed by a TV crew, shouting “Trump that bitch” and “put that bitch in jail” to cheers and applause from bystanders.

Further down the street, a group of Clinton supporters push through the crowd. The leader, a young man in an unadorned white tee gestures at the media and begins to shout over the Trump supporters.

“This is your fault,” he says as cameras surround him. “You did this. You’re responsible. Yeah, you the media. You did this!”

A man in a “Hillary for prison” shirt begins to argue and a crowd presses in around them, as police officers try to keep people moving, to keep a clear line of sight, to stop any violence before it starts. It’s late now and people are getting drunk and restless. Cars drive down the street blaring their horns to resounding cheers. TVs in neighboring businesses show maps filled with red.

It’s still too close to call, but from the triumphant cacophony, it seems like Trump has all but won. A few people begin to leave the area, questioning whether it’s safe to be out on the streets when the final vote is called.

At 1:44 a.m., this reporter deems it time to leave when a group of five young men walk past and yell, “Tonight we can grab all the pussies we want!”

At 2:48 a.m., Donald J. Trump is named the 45th president of the United States of America.

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