On Election Night, I was in my favorite neighborhood dive in Red Hook, Brooklyn, drinking Pabst Blue Ribbon and watching the television above the bar. A little whoop went up whenever a state went blue. Red-state wins were snickered at or ignored. The TV was muted, the barroom chatter loud.
A few hours later, some people were crying, but nobody was talking much.
Outrage. Despair. Bafflement. In that moment and over the next few days, New York City felt desolate, despite the mass protests. Our public officials vowed to resist the oncoming wave of Trumpism, while our local media resolved to, as Brooke Gladstone from WNYC’s On the Media expressed, “make what seems to have been invisible to us, and everyone we know, visible.” I believed in this impulse. Donald Trump, whose every word reeks of delusional narcissism, wretched hypocrisy, and gilded incompetence, was going to be our President. I rejected the notion that my Trump-voting countrymen were so small-minded to support Trump as I saw him.
Yet in the months following Trump’s Inauguration, I listened to the same opposing voices sneering and shrieking at him, his government, and his followers. I followed the news of his daily blunders and tracked the palace intrigue closely. Nothing I read helped me grasp what I had missed—what we all had missed—before the election.