The ‘grab her by the pussy’ video, the Lucky-TV ballad or the leaked emails: the run-up to the American presidential election was never boring. And tonight it was time for Americans to go to the ballot box and elect their president. EM compiled an ‘overnight journal’ of election night in the Rotterdamse Schouwburg (theatre) where almost everyone was hoping for a Hillary Clinton victory.
19.58: Henri Beunders on the (angry) white man
Visitors are immediately presented with a choice at the theatre entrance: are you going to pin on a Trump button or a Clinton button? This was also the moment your ‘American affairs correspondent’s’ intention to remain neutral vanished. Once inside, the theatre resembled Democratic Party headquarters with a conspicuous number of Hillary buttons to be seen.
Studio Erasmus kicked off the evening with academics shedding light on the American elections. Professor Henri Beunders spoke about the rise of the angry white man, which would explain the popularity of politicians like Trump and Dutch Wilders. Even though the audience was mostly made up of white men, none of them seem to identify with the profile described by the professor. The buttons they’re wearing show a radiant Hillary, not Trump. When Professor Dianne Bevelander speaks about female leadership and calls for an end to stereotyping women, her words are received with loud applause. This call will be repeated often and each time it is met with enthusiastic cheering from the audience.
22.04: Hillary’s night?
Election night continues with First Lady Night?. Host Francisco van Jole opens by asking who in the audience would vote for Hillary. Hillary is by far the favourite and hopefully tonight will mark an end to Trump’s political games. The speakers share their stories about Clinton and explain what her victory would mean: women’s liberation, a continuation of Obama’s political agenda, and husband Bill as ‘First Man’.
Former politician John Leerdam relates a story about meeting Hillary when he was a student in New York. He claims that even 25 years ago he could foresee her becoming president. Leerdam isn’t alone in thinking he has the gift of prophecy, as later in the evening there’s a Skype session with Maurice de Hond who predicts a Clinton election victory, to much cheering. Nothing seems to indicate that he’s wrong.
The Dutch-American journalist Clarice Gargard says that she’s finding it hard to say goodbye to Barack and Michelle Obama. Eight years ago she followed her heart and voted for Obama. Voting for Hillary was a rational choice. The speakers in attendance support Hillary not just because she has political experience or because she’s a woman. Above all, she is everything Trump is not.
The other guest speakers are also expecting Hillary to win the elections. As the final speaker of the evening, the leading candidate of the GroenLinks party Judith Bokhove sums up the hopes and expectations of everyone present: “Clinton will win, without a doubt.”
2.12: A neck-and-neck race
When the visitors leave the theatre, the first exit polls start to trickle in. In the theatre lobby an election livestream is briefly available, but most people decide to either watch the rest of the election at home or to go to bed.
The preliminary results quickly show that Trump put up more of fight against Clinton than previously thought. The swing state Florida is carried by the Republican candidate by one percentage point, the slimmest of margins. Similarly, other states considered decisive for winning the election also go to Trump. The CNN commentators can hardly believe what they’re seeing, never mind the people watching in Rotterdam who earlier this evening cheered Maurice de Hond’s prediction.
9.02: The breakfast hangover
“This is what Americans refer to as ‘the morning after’. I’m suffering from a hangover and I’m sure you are too.” Francisco van Jole thought it would be a good idea: an American breakfast get-together to look back on the events of election night. Instead, after Donald Trump’s victory, the mood is sombre as the people in Rotterdam watch in horror and disbelief as Trump and his supporters celebrate. Van Jole continues: “Let’s hope it’s won’t be as bad as we expect, Donald Trump himself didn’t think he would win.” Van Jole says he’s an optimist, but his remarks in closing suggest the opposite: “But I don’t think things will turn out better than expected. I fear the worst.”