10 Nov 2016

Waking up in Trumpland

9:38 am on 10 November 2016

Lamia Imam on the morning after in a country she thought she was getting to know.


Protesters outside the White House in Washington, DC.

Protesters outside the White House in Washington, DC. Photo: AFP

Like most of the world, I find myself in shock. In my recent memory of following elections – whether in New Zealand or the US, I’ve always trusted the polls. Even the tone set by early votes seemed to indicate that Clinton would be the first woman President.

I woke up this morning in Texas knowing that it would go red, but given the polls showing how even Texas Democrats were closing in on the Republicans, I was sure that Clinton would have been President-elect. 

Last night, as the electoral map started to be filled in, it became painfully obvious that not only was Trump winning Republican states convincingly, he was consistently leading in swing states and states previously won by Obama.

Pundits often say “No Republican has won the White House without winning Ohio” and that became the reality. As soon as the state was called for Trump it became very apparent that Hillary’s path to the Presidency was paved with thorns.

And after that he won every swing state, every state that was deemed a toss-up. As the night progressed with Trump gaining Republican strong states – the deadlock in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin showed that working white voters were going to determine this election

As a minority, seeing the white vote go decidedly for someone who is endorsed by the KKK is disheartening and shocking.

While turnout has reportedly been the lowest since 2000, the turnout for Trump was exactly what he needed. This was also the first election since much of the protections of the Voting Rights Act have been removed because they were considered not required anymore. It seems Clinton will win the popular vote narrowly. But turnout will be the story as will be the role of the Electoral College.

I don’t have to list all the reasons Trump shouldn’t have been elected. Notwithstanding his racist and misogynist comments, notwithstanding his pathological lying, notwithstanding his inability to finish a sentence completely and coherently - I expected he would lose because he didn’t seem to have articulated any clear plan on how he would execute any of his policies.

But here we are.

Now that the Republicans have control of the House, Senate, and Presidency plus the ability to appoint Supreme Court and Federal judges – all three branches of the government will be under one ideology. Paul Ryan, the Speaker of the House spoke about a “unified Republican government led by Donald Trump” this morning so I do not believe that the established GOP will be a check on Donald Trump.

As a Kiwi on a work visa, I couldn’t vote. Now, I don’t know how Trump’s immigration policy will shape up. After last night it is hard to have the motivation to stay. I had thought that eventually I might become a dual citizen.

It is also a little terrifying to realise that I walk among people who have voted for someone like Donald Trump. As a minority, seeing the white vote go decidedly for someone who is endorsed by the KKK is disheartening and shocking. 

I’ve been receiving large numbers of texts, FB messages, and tweets telling me to come home, which is comforting.

What really scares me is the calls to “Go home” that many will be forced to hear after today. It worries me that bigotry will not only be normalised and accepted, but it will be legislated.