Mourn­ing in New York re­porter Nick Baker checks out how the Big Ap­ple is re­act­ing to Don­ald Trump’s sur­prise vic­tory in the US pres­i­den­tial elec­tion

The Myanmar Times - - The Pulse - NICK BAKER n.baker@mm­times.com

“F**K THIS.”

The sim­ple epi­taph held by a lone man on Fifth Av­enue sums up how many in New York are feel­ing af­ter last week’s shock elec­tion re­sult.

Only 19 per­cent of Amer­ica’s largest city voted for Repub­li­can can­di­date Don­ald Trump. And it shows. Res­i­dents are pub­li­cally, vis­cer­ally ex­pe­ri­enc­ing var­i­ous stages of grief.

“It could all be a dream,” a sub­way pas­sen­ger yelled out dur­ing rush hour in the days that fol­lowed. The gal­lows hu­mour gave the car­riage a quick laugh be­fore most com­muters went back to star­ing blankly into the mid­dle dis­tance.

Cafes up­town and down­town were ini­tially thick with de­nial as New York­ers tried to grap­ple with what seemed like “the im­pos­si­ble” to one pa­tron and “the apoc­a­lypse” to an­other.

Strangers from dif­fer­ent walks of life struck up con­ver­sa­tions in cof­fee queues about what the re­sult ac­tu­ally means. For Oba­macare? For the Supreme Court? For the Iran nu­clear deal? For the coun­try’s cli­mate change agenda?

As re­al­ity started to sink in, Trump Tower in mid­town Man­hat­tan be­came a fo­cal point for demon­stra­tion – and some cel­e­bra­tion.

Per­haps the most con­fronting scene out­side the 58-storey sky­scraper on Novem­ber 10 was one young woman who stood in the rain as she tried to burn, but then set­tled for rip­ping up, an Amer­i­can flag.

A sea of plac­ards at the site ex­pressed dis­be­lief (“AHHHHHHHH”), out­rage (“You’re not my pres­i­dent”), re­gret (“We’re bet­ter than this”) and com­bat­ive­ness (“We are not re­signed”).

Busi­ness was boom­ing for a young woman, her­self in tears, with a “free hugs” sign as passers-by stopped for long, in­tense em­braces.

“I’ve never felt more ter­ri­fied in my life,” said first gen­er­a­tion Mexi- can-Amer­i­can Sa­man­tha Kud­er­naReeves who had come to demon­strate. “I’m afraid about what’s go­ing to hap­pen to my fam­ily now.”

The feel­ing of fear was echoed by fel­low pro­tester In­dia Derewet­zky: “It looks like Amer­ica now thinks that ha­tred and xeno­pho­bia and racism and sex­ism are the ways that this coun­try should base all its de­ci­sions on. That’s gen­uinely fright­en­ing.”

Repub­li­cans who also gath­ered at Trump Tower un­der­stand­ably had a dif­fer­ent in­ter­pre­ta­tion.

“I feel great,” said a Trump voter who asked to be only iden­ti­fied as Jor­dan. “Make Amer­i­can great again. We’re back!”

Jor­dan cred­ited the Repub­li­can win to “a lot of poli­cies from the last ad­min­is­tra­tion that were detri­men­tal to job growth”.

The main item on his Trump pol­icy wish list was “see­ing the re­peal of NAFTA and other mul­ti­lat­eral trade agree­ments” which will “in­cen­tivise pro­duc­tion here in the US and make the man­u­fac­tur­ing base come back”.

An­other Trump sup­porter – “Jonathan, proudly born and raised in the Bronx, New York City” – said he looked for­ward to re­sults from the new pres­i­dent on day one.

“I ex­pect him to be held ac­count­able for do­ing the things that he said … such as bring­ing down the cor­po­rate tax rate … and get­ting a han­dle on im­mi­gra­tion,” he said.

It was not long be­fore the two ri­val groups at Trump Tower started bick­er­ing, then ar­gu­ing, then no­holds-barred shout­ing.

“You’re racists,” said the an­tiTrumps. “Bill Clin­ton is a rapist,” re­sponded the anti-Clin­tons.

When pushed, the two groups did agree on one, de­spon­dent thing – that this clash was symp­to­matic of ex­actly what to ex­pect over the next four years.

Grad­u­ally, more or­gan­ised protests against the re­sult were held in parks and other large pub­lic places across the city.

Union Square – an ironic choice for a his­tor­i­cally dis­united Amer­ica – has played host to a series of par­tic­u­larly fiery protests since Novem­ber 8. Thou­sands of at­ten­dees have gath­ered there for sev­eral nights al­ready call­ing for a Trump im­peach­ment. And worse.

“Trump makes Amer­ica hate, Trump makes Amer­ica hate, Trump makes Amer­ica hate,” rang out again and again.

But one small plac­ard in Union Square held by a smil­ing mid­dleaged man sounded a note of op­ti­mism: “Good will pre­vail.” It re­mains to be seen how much op­ti­mism will linger af­ter Jan­uary 20, 2017 – the first day of Pres­i­dent Trump.

Photos: Nick Baker

A pro­tester tries to burn an Amer­i­can flag out­side Trump Tower.

Thou­sands of pro­test­ers con­verge on Trump Tower.

Anti-Trump signs have ap­peared around New York.

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