From stupefied referendum darknes revellers in Washington DC to a lesbian Trump voter in Detroit to kids in Kentucky … The US writer guesses the mood of a divided nation
The word surreal is overused and often erroneously expended, but in the case of the Washington Post Election Night Live party, the word was apt. First of all, it was a disco. There was a DJ playing a frenetic mix of contemporary Top 40 and pointedly apropos sungs such as Pat Benatars Hit Me With Your Best Shot( Youre a real tough cookie with a long record ). Behind the DJ there were dozens of screens evidencing many video systems coverage of such elections. The screens were so bright and so huge, and the colours so primary and evocative, that its own experience was like being captured inside an enormous jar of jelly beans.
Women dressed like Vegas showgirls manufactured their mode through the crowd with towering tiered hats adorned with chocolates from one of the evenings patrons. The chocolates, round and the size of strawberries, were offered in pairs, enclosed in loose plastic bags a ludicrou but perhaps intentionally lewd optic? The bartenders were to work out Campari Americanos by the dozens. The food was by cooks Jos Andrs and the brothers Voltaggio. The Washington Post has a right to celebrate the paper is thrive and its political coverage remarkable but this felt like Rome before the fall.
At some item early on, the music was turned down for 20 minutes so Karen Attiah of the Post could moderate a live dialogue between the present German ambassador, Peter Wittig, and former Mexican ambassador Arturo Sarukhan. The talk was serious and enlighten, but the envoys seemed baffled by the nightclub atmosphere, and besides, few people were listening. The defendant was about the party.
And everyone expected Hillary Clinton to win. The attendees were widely Washington insiders lobbyists, staffers, legislative aide-de-camps, pundits and makes. Most were radical and most were confident. The nights exclusively potential for suspense centred around whether or not Clinton would take some of the toss-up positions, like Florida and North Carolina. When she was declared the winner which was expected before the working party scheduled end-time of ten oclock there used to be talk of who would be appointed what, with a not-insignificant fraction of the partygoers in line for positions in the brand-new administration.
Thus the feeling was ebullient at seven oclock, when the occurrence started, and was electric by eight. Kentucky and Indiana were announced for Donald Trump and that word was met with a shrug. More scantily clad females walked through the chambers providing hors doeuvres, and soon there were at least three showgirls wearing hats of towering testicle-chocolates. Young Washingtonians swayed to the music. Sips were determined under chairs and spilled. A young girl in a beautiful party dress sauntered through the drunken partygoers looking for her parents.
Then nine oclock developed around and the working party began to turn. Most of the states thus far used to go for Trump. None of these victories was surprising, but the flush of the national map was daunting, and the margins in those states are generally greater than expected. He took Texas, North Dakota, Kansas, Mississippi. Not a problem for the crowd, but by 9.30, parties were panicking. Trump was guiding in Florida and North Carolina. Nate Silver, the statistics shaman who had been roundly criticised for exaggerating Trumps occasions , now posted that a Trump victory was likely. Ohio was in the bag, Pennsylvania was trending toward him, and it was like he could triumph Wisconsin and Michigan. A hundred guests returned their attention from the big screens to their little screens. They paced and saw summons. The defendant emptied and we all spilled into the streets. Beyond the Washington Post building and beyond DC, the two countries had been bog by a white tsunami few interpreted coming.