For Many Americans, A Day to Forget

For many Americans, Nov. 9 was a time of shock at the surprise election of Donald Trump, but the distress was perhaps strongest in New York City which knows Trump best, writes Michael Winship.

By Michael Winship

I would just as soon forget the morning after my father was nearly killed in a car accident and I heard my sister in her bedroom cry out as our mother told her. I would just as soon forget the morning after my father’s store burned to the ground, set ablaze after someone living next door to it fell asleep smoking. Or the morning the pay phone on my college dormitory floor rang and it was my mother telling me my father had died. Trump_Pence_2016

I would just as soon forget the morning after Election Day, 1972. I was on the campaign staff of Democratic presidential candidate George McGovern. I had spent the last couple of weeks in Connecticut. They told us we would lose the state by around 100,000 votes, but we put our shoulders to the wheel and managed to lose it by more than a quarter of a million. Richard Nixon beat us everywhere but Massachusetts and the District of Columbia. People knew about Watergate by then but didn’t yet care very much. It was a cold, rainy drive back to Washington.

While I’m at it, I’d like to forget the morning after John Lennon was murdered in December 1980. Another cold, rainy day. All of Manhattan was in shock. I took the subway up to 72nd Street and walked to the Dakota, the apartment building where Lennon lived and died. Fans stood on the sidewalks, soaked, holding radios and tape players, blasting his music, leaving sodden flowers and guttering candles on the doorsteps and windowsills.

And, of course, the morning of 9/11 and the morning after and the morning after that. I live a mile and a half from Ground Zero and saw the towers burn. The day after, we were sealed off from the rest of the city, streets closed to everything but emergency traffic. The smells of burning, of melted metal and other horrors intermittently filled the air, as they would for weeks to come.

Finally, I would just as soon forget Wednesday morning of this very week, Nov. 9. Donald Trump made his victory speech around 3 a.m. A few hours later, as daylight broke, the sky was overcast with a bit of rain and much of New York had fallen into the pained silence of a deep funk. Some compared it to the city’s mood after 9/11 but no, in 2001 there were almost immediate feelings of defiance and resolve mixed with the loss and sadness. Now there was just bewildered numbness, a physical ache.

Rejection in the Big Apple

But a couple of things buoyed me. For one, Donald Trump lost New York City (except for Staten Island) and New York State big time. Here in Manhattan, he received only 10 percent of the vote. Sure, active Democrats outnumber Republicans in the borough by more than 7 to 1, but from where I sit, 10 percent’s a number for losers.

Donald Trump speaking with supporters in Phoenix, Arizona. June 18, 2016. (Photo by Gage Skidmore)

Donald Trump speaking with supporters in Phoenix, Arizona. June 18, 2016. (Photo by Gage Skidmore)

I know, feeling good about that statistic is a bit of a stretch given the grand scheme of things, but that piddling 10 percent is a reminder that people who live in Manhattan know Donald Trump better than the general population of anywhere else in the country. And we voted no. Loudly.

Maybe we should have been more vocal about this during the election, sent platoons of Manhattanites out into the rest of the country, telling people just what it’s been like to live with this guy for the past four-plus decades: The bragging and lies, the crass excesses and raging misogyny, the bankruptcies, the high-rise real estate developments that have contributed to both our gross income inequality and the staggering property costs that increasingly force everyone but the very wealthiest out of their homes and small businesses.

We could have told them about 1989 and how Trump went after five teenagers of color falsely accused of raping a woman jogger in the city’s Central Park, how he took out full-page newspaper ads calling for a return to the death penalty as punishment, how even after the five were exonerated on the basis of solid DNA evidence and another man’s confession, he refused to apologize and continued to insist on their guilt.

And we could have told them what it’s really like to live on this island of diverse nationalities and ethnicities, of many religions and gender orientations, and the resulting, incredible variety of food, fashion, music and art; how once you’re unavoidably and insistently immersed in our differences, more often than not they’re a cause for celebration and not fear and hate. A lesson yet to be learned by our resident President-elect, who lives in a tower high above such things, but we can hope.

I feel good, too, that by the end of the day on Wednesday, demonstrators had gathered at the Trump International Hotel on Columbus Circle a couple of blocks from our offices, that thousands more gathered in Union Square downtown, and that all of them marched toward Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue, carrying placards and shouting in protest. Similar actions took place in cities across the nation and continue as I write.

Condemning those marches and sounding more like the sheriff of Nottingham than his real job, sheriff of Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, right-wing Trump surrogate David A. Clarke tweeted, “These temper tantrums from these radical anarchists must be quelled. There is no legitimate reason to protest the will of the people.”  Sorry, sheriff — dissent is alive and well. Get used to it these next four years.

In my lifetime, we’ve managed to survive Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and two Bushes in the White House. Trump has an excellent chance at being worse than all of them combined. We’ll see. It’s going to be challenging and often frightening.

I fear there will be plenty more terrible mornings ahead. But as Joe Hill said, “Don’t mourn, organize.” And so we shall.

Michael Winship is the Emmy Award-winning senior writer of Moyers & Company and, and a former senior writing fellow at the policy and advocacy group Demos. Follow him on Twitter at @MichaelWinship. [This article originally appeared at]

21 comments for “For Many Americans, A Day to Forget

  1. Brad Benson
    November 15, 2016 at 19:50

    Oh puhleeeze! Spare me the whining about the fact that we didn’t elect a WAR CRIMINAL. What’s the matter with you? Why do you think that the American People, who are fundamentally good people, are not sick of all these wars? Do you not see the hypocrisy of your support for this lying piece of crap?

  2. dahoit
    November 13, 2016 at 11:22

    Nov.8 2016,the birth of a new America,released from the shackles of zion.
    Hallelujah,and thank you America,for the beautiful day.

  3. veritas
    November 13, 2016 at 10:36

    I went to bed early on election night, was woken early the next morning by a friend calling to tell me “Trump got in!” which I thought a joke in the poorest of taste. But it’s true, and man this feels like 1968 again, people walking around the next day dazed muttering, “Nixon, they voted in freakin’ Nixon!” And it was déjà vu all over again when in 1980 I woke to find my countrymen had elected the hate-filled ex-Governor of California to read the lines to them of the greatest role of his b-grade movie career.

    Once again the idiot leaders of the Democratic Party have committed suicide. It’s clear that the time of liberalism has passed, and good riddance. Modern liberalism evolved from a reactionary movement to defuse the revolutionary radicalism of the nineteenth century. It is at heart about the preservation of an unjust status quo. Liberals fight just as vigorously as conservatives to see that true progress is not achieved in a way that infringes on their privileged social and economic status. Liberals will continue to mock some of their fellow countrymen as racist misogynist morons, for the truly dark underside of this campaign is the exposure of their utter contempt for those they pretend to fight for.

  4. Zerge
    November 13, 2016 at 06:54

    Trum-pam-pam and evil witch is gone.
    Well, I’m 30 years Russian woman and honestly I don’t much care who is the president of the USA. Because on my conscious memory there is no different, at least to the world and to my country. But in this case I don’t mourning about the Hillary’s fail. After all Trump don’t proclaim openly a war to my country. And maybe we still have a tiny chance to avoid the Big Third. And in my book that is a good thing.
    Trump’s victory not surprised me so much like reaction on it. Well, yeah, why this election system called democratic is still a mystery to me but there it is. Everybody knows the rules of this game. And there is not a first case in the American history when candidate with a simple majority of voices lose. And here’s you get Donny. And now there’s protests because election system worked exactly like it supposed to work.
    Honestly, it’s look like five years child’s hysteria about not getting what he want. Yeah, it’s supposed to be pretty general line – the first Afro-American president, the first woman president, maybe next gay president or trans president or Siamese twins president or something like that… Who care that US continuing bullying and bombing other countries, messing up with internal politics and backing up terrorists while president still says the nice tolerance things?
    System error. People voted for Trump. Looks like these liberal whiners didn’t ever believe that people actually will be vote for Trump. And now people in panic. Really? I understand that American people used to be buttered with that stupid political correctness and nice liberal words but never thought that Americans are so chicken.
    Seriously. There is a man who have guts to speak what he really think (at least it’s look like that) and people in the blind panic?! Maybe because I’m not American but I really don’t get it. I don’t see in his program something really terrible. Well, the wall on the border sound kind of stupid and it’s not help but… What’s the matter?
    All that posts from social nets about fleeing country… That’s just blow my mind. He’s a racist, rapist, sexist, homophobe… I don’t know how much it’s true, but nobody said that president should be a nice person. You elected the president, not godfather for your children. And not emperor of the universe and the ultimate ruler of your lives. What these wailers think he will do? Make gays illegal? Open hunting season on transes? Banished all women to the kitchen? Restore slavery? Do you ever believe in your own democratic institutes and civil society that supposedly should not allow such things?
    Have to say I don’t have illusions about Trump presidency. Don’t have illusions about politics all over the world including my own country. There is no good guys and heroes on the white horses and it’s not such revelation. I know one thing – at least on this moment Trump’s victory is something else. It’s can be bad and it’s can be good. But at least there is a chance that it can be good.
    P.S. Sorry for lousy English, and peace for everyone from Russia.

    • Taras77
      November 13, 2016 at 13:12

      Your English is fine!

      The stupidity of clinton was overwhelming in blaming Putin and Russia for every thing that went wrong during the campaign. Now she is blaming Comey for her loss. As they say, denial is not only a river in Egypt. Clinton’s entire life was based upon blaming someone else for her poor judgment.

      As for Trump, who knows at this point. Neo cons gathering like flies to honey is disconcerting but it is not unexpected. That is what they do!

    • Brad Benson
      November 15, 2016 at 19:47

      Super post. I hope that Trump and Putin can defuse this stupid New Cold War. I still hope to visit your country some day. I get to Europe a lot and still hope to make the trip one day.

      Your English was very readable and your meaning was clear. I speak German, but writing in German is more difficult than speaking it on the street. To be able to make oneself understood is all that is important. You have done this very well.

  5. exiled off mainstreet
    November 13, 2016 at 04:06

    No apologies for war criminals. Fomenting unrest on their behalf compounds the problem and carries with it responsibility for the actions of those for whom the unrest is being instigated. The Clintons’ deplorable record speaks for itself as other posters, John Chuckman and Alistaire Crooke have written. I guess the apologists and toadies for the discredited criminal establishment deserve their champion, except that they are in absolute control of almost all other information outlets.

  6. Taras77
    November 12, 2016 at 23:31

    I may have mentioned this before but for a complete dissecting of the demo party’s (and the clintons’) complete abandonment of the working class in america over the past several decades, I have found the books and articles by Thomas Frank to be extremely informative. He is brutal on the regime of bill clinton and, to state the obvious, he has nothing positive to say about hillary. His books are on amazon and his articles are on Guardian (strange that he had to go to the UK to get his articles published).
    (check the march 2016 article-demos and clinton completely missed the point but it is spot on)

    article by robert reich:

    To sum up my disgust with this article by winship, the neoliberals and neocons have no one to blame but themselves with interventions, regime changes, “free” trade, and the obama fraudulent regime (read oligarchy regime) I do not know what Trump is going to do, no one else does either, but to say that the elites are now being challenged is a good thing for this country.

  7. Manfred
    November 12, 2016 at 23:03

    Scott Adams totally changed my view on this election and Trump. I think they are the best analysis available and essential for understanding what happened and what will come.

  8. Karl Kolchack
    November 12, 2016 at 21:49

    As one who Hillary in her arrogance dismissed as a “Bernie Bro” who she did not need nor want in her coalition, I stayed home and returned the favor partly out of a hope this would happen and destroy the neoliberal grip on the Democratic Party. It is our only hope to get an FDR figure elected in 2020, which I believe will be the true realigning election of the 21st century.

    Long way of saying I danced a jig on Wednesday morning despite my hatred of Trump.

  9. Andreas Wirsén
    November 12, 2016 at 16:24

    That was not a useful exercise in dialogue, Mister. Remember, we have to live together in the same country, and world.

  10. Gregory Herr
    November 12, 2016 at 12:54

    OMG…the hand wringing has begun in earnest. Too bad so many can’t wrap their heads around the truth that the Democrats have failed miserably at home and abroad, that Clinton did represent “the greater evil”, that people could actually have a greater disgust for a phoney & treacherous Clinton than for Trump. Many who voted for Trump dislike and disagree with distasteful aspects of Trump’s candidacy and record, but held their nose and voted against Clinton. They resent the spin that they voted for Trump out of hate, racism, or ignorance.
    I voted for Stein because she represents my views. But I sure am glad Clinton lost, despite the unsavory alternative. The following article is trenchant:

    • Brad Owen
      November 12, 2016 at 14:43

      I too, voted Green. I’m now sending Green Party U.S. ten bucks a month. I too, consider the Clinton machine the greater threat to the Republic and the World. Also, Trump is as leery of the R Establishment as Obama was of the D Establishment, but even more so. The Establishment tries their damndest to take a good man or woman and turn them into perfect assholes for Empire. Trump’s already an asshole and a BS artist, and it takes an asshole and BS artist to smell another asshole and BS artist, so he will probably resist the pressure to push him in directions that he, the CEO, the Leader, didn’t already decide in which to go. This ,overall, computes to lesser evil.

    • rosemerry
      November 12, 2016 at 17:22

      Thank you, Gregory. I agree completely and loved the link and the site (I did not know it either).

      This is a reply to Gregory here, misplaced-sorry.

    • Taras77
      November 12, 2016 at 23:36

      Be careful with the link:

      I opened the link and read the article with no problem but when I tried to go to archives or “about” the site, I received alert by my anti-virus protection that the site was infected with a malware virus-be careful!

    • exiled off mainstreet
      November 13, 2016 at 04:07

      I was disappointed that Stein did not get more votes. The Clintons are truly the unsavouries.

  11. Zachary Smith
    November 12, 2016 at 12:03

    How to make friends and influence people. Not!

  12. Sam
    November 12, 2016 at 11:32

    While I enjoyed your rant for its truth about the Killarist hypocrisy and lies, the writer is also correct in opposing the second-worst candidate. I couldn’t think of anything good about either candidate, but was not guilty of the standard false accusations. Trump was somewhat less dangerous. I considered your write-in/Green option but gave them only money, so as to help dump the worst option. The truth, and the future are not in oligarchy pseudo-elections.

  13. aquadraht
    November 12, 2016 at 10:43

    There is not much to be said against taking on Trump on grounds of him being reactionary, misogynist, probably racist, whatever. At least there will be the opportunity to oppose and resist him instead of crawling through the ruins of nuclear war – if somebody is left to crawl.

    And resistance should start by mopping up the own rows, to get rid of elitist lies, intrigues, corruption, bribery, militarism, aggression and hatred against other countries, and propaganda. About 6 million voters ran away from Hillary since 2012. And while the bad message is that Trump became president elect, the good one is that Hillary did’nt.

    I want to stress that this is a view from outside as I am not living in the US.

    • November 12, 2016 at 15:38

      Agree with Aquadraht. I am a US citizen, and the choice given to us in the presidential election has been atrocious, and that was done by the powers that be. The US people, in my view, have picked the lesser of two evils, Clinton, all about herself, believing that it is ok to get questions she is to be asked before a public appearance, that secret material affecting the country need not be handeled carefully by herself, but should be handeled carefully by others, that it is ok for populous NY which is opposed to guns to tell less populous states such as Texas, etc, that they need no guns, and who should be their president, even though most states were opposed to Hillary. That it is ok for the US to tell Syrians, and anyone else, what they should do, that nuclear war is anything but MAD. Trump is an intelligent man, and clearly has his faults. The US people have had the opportunity to judge Mrs. Clinton’s faults, and feel they are far, far greater.

    • rosemerry
      November 12, 2016 at 17:18

      Me too.
      btw ” I would just as soon forget Wednesday morning of this very week, Nov. 9.”
      In the rest of the world, the ninth of November is 9/11.

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