As they went about processing the shock results of last night’s election, the people of New York City woke to a blanket of thick, grey haze which absorbed the city skyline.
It’s seemed an apt shift from the blue skies of election day – where yesterday there was optimism of a Clinton victory, today there is cloudiness at the prospect of a Trump future.
For many in the US, the Trump future is the one they want. Pushing aside significant controversy, voters clearly engaged with the Republican’s rhetoric around a lost greatness, promises of a shift to greater control on borders and an anti-establishment movement. I saw a lot of people on social media ask if the people of the US learned anything from the Brexit – they clearly did, and they liked what they saw.
But for New York, a safe Democratic state, most signs suggested this was not a desired result.
I was at the Nets game in Brooklyn last night when the news started to trickle in that Clinton was in for more of a fight than earlier predicted. You could see attentions slowly turn away from the basketball as it went down.
Not even Ja Rule, who was in the crowd and they kept showing on the big screen for some reason, could bring people back to the game.
It was visible again today, in some of the eyes of those riding the subway, the quiet chatter of those looking for solace in the company of others and the occasional person verbalising their concerns to anyone willing to listen.
In the spirit of being a good journalist and a horrible tourist I did my best to seek out trouble and a story today where possible. Overwhelmingly though, it seemed remarkably similar to any other of the last few weeks.
There was a lady at Myrtle-Wyckoff Station adamant that the decision to elect Trump would spark a civil war, but her views were largely ignored by a crowd which seemed more intent on quiet reflection than outward expression.
The destination was Trump Tower, where I figured there’d be someone doing something of note. Last night Lady Gaga was there in protest of the election result. Today it was surprisingly placid, though swarming with a significant police presence.
A small group of younger people gathered out front in protest of Trump’s views on sexuality, abortion and gender. One tried to go to work but had to leave at her perceived injustice of the situation – “I told my boss I couldn’t just stand there and do nothing,” she said.
On the other side of the fence were Trump’s fans. Those who turned out seemed to be of various groups – there was Blacks for Trump, Jews for Trump and Christians for Trump – but there didn’t seem to be one united assembly of Trump fans gathered.
Regardless, the word from this side was that the nation had been saved at the hands of the election result the previous evening. The mistrust of Clinton was clear, and the desire to be removed from an establishment politician dominated discussion.
One thing I’ve loved about watching the political debate on the street is the mutual respect New Yorkers have displayed for one another. The conversation can be heated, but not once have I seen it get personal or violent despite the size of the topics at play.
In a nation of 319 million people stretched across 3.8 million miles of land I find it astounding that the presidential candidates could spend the evening just two blocks apart, but that’s exactly what happened.
While Trump was holed up in his namesake tower on the corner of 5th Avenue and 56th Street, Clinton spent her election night literally down the road at the Peninsula. They’re on the same street.
On the way to Trump Tower I noticed a crowd, and realised we were standing at the front of the Peninsula. Surely enough, within 10 minutes Hillary and Bill emerged and jumped straight into awaiting cars surrounded by a strong police presence. All things considered the crowd was pretty adoring of the Clintons as they left, and not long after she delivered a speech to fans nearby.
There was no sighting of Trump at the tower, but a large queue of garbage trucks filled with sand formed a barricade of their own on the street in front of the building. It was an unusual sight, but I suppose this is no orthodox politician.
The lesson learned
Every vote counts the same, and at the end of the day America democratically elected Donald J. Trump as its 45th President. Say what you will about the candidate and the motivations – racial, gender, ideological – of the people making this decision, this is democracy at work and the freedom the United States prides itself on.
Will he follow through on his campaign promises? No one really knows. Once the fog clears I suppose we’ll have a better idea.
All photos by Jack McGinn. Please note that all views are opinion and guided only by personal experience as a traveller in New York City.