I settled on the couch at 5pm and turned on CNN to watch the election returns, thinking that I would be seeing history in the making as Hillary Clinton became the first woman president of the U.S.—after all, that’s what all the polls were telling us. Donald Trump had an early lead in electoral votes, having already secured a few of the eastern “Red” states like South Carolina and West Virginia. Things were just starting to heat up in some of the key “battleground” states—Florida, North Carolina, and Ohio—which were all very closely contested. There was a lot of back and forth, lead changes, and speculations about how the uncounted votes would play out as CNN milked the drama for all it was worth, like some great sporting event with the highest possible stakes. Meanwhile, Hillary had begun to win some other states and to pull ahead a bit in electoral votes. No Republican candidate had ever been elected president without winning Ohio, so when Trump pulled ahead and eventually was declared the winner there it seemed to signal a big momentum shift. The races in North Carolina and Florida remained extremely close, but both were ultimately claimed by Trump. At this point I began to get nervous. Hillary still had a chance but would need to win all of the remaining “battleground” states of Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Iowa. By about 10pm it became apparent that it wasn’t going to happen for Hillary. A Trump victory was inevitable unless something miraculous happened. The Republicans also held a majority in both the House and the Senate. In a state of shock, I decided to go to bed. As I tossed and turned in bed, I imagined what a Trump administration might be like. Would a combination of a Republican President, Senate, and House of Representatives, along with a soon to be conservative majority Supreme Court repeal everything progressive that has been legislated in this country in the past 50 years? Would Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric create tense relations internationally and domestically? Would we end up living in a fascist state? Would we need to move to Canada? Needless to say, I didn’t sleep very well. When I woke up this morning I switched on the TV to see if some kind of last minute miracle had happened, only to be greeted by the news that Trump had pulled off one of the great upsets in American political history.
The mood in the yoga studio this morning was pretty somber—most people were extremely disappointed, some people were angry. I was too tired and depressed to practice so I came home and watched Hillary’s concession speech and then President Obama’s address to the union. Hillary was very gracious in defeat and the President, as always, was eloquent, conciliatory, and philosophical, reminding us that in a democracy sometimes you win and sometimes you lose, but the important thing is to keep fighting for what you believe in. I also listened to Trump’s acceptance speech, in which he vowed to unite the country at a time when we seem more divided than ever. I have my doubts, but for the past 18 months we have consistently underestimated Trump. At first, no one took his campaign seriously, then no one thought he’d win the nomination, much less the presidency. Maybe it will be one of those situations where the job makes the man. We can only hope.