Friday 9 December 2016

Fear and loathing as spectre of Trump presidency looms

Published 08/11/2016 | 02:30

Eight-year-old Judy Hollister holds up a sign of support for Hillary Clinton while waiting for the candidate to speak at the Grand Valley State University Fieldhouse in Allendale, Michigan Picture: Reuters
Eight-year-old Judy Hollister holds up a sign of support for Hillary Clinton while waiting for the candidate to speak at the Grand Valley State University Fieldhouse in Allendale, Michigan Picture: Reuters

As thousands of Irish fans continued the great exodus from Chicago last night, they looked on in amazement at the lines of Americans queuing patiently to vote. Over three days here I haven't met one American voting for Donald Trump.

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This city, hometown of Barack and Michelle Obama, is far from complacent. In fact, you could say it is gripped by fear, as no-one is writing off Trump.

Only days after five million people came out onto the streets to celebrate the Chicago Cubs winning the World Series, the joy of the victory was now tinged with nervousness.

Hence the long queues which have broken records here. One young African-American I spoke to told how she waited two hours last night to vote and then showed a printed receipt of her vote for Hillary Clinton.

Yesterday morning, the Chicago Board of Elections reported that up to Sunday 284,506 early ballots had been cast, setting a new record. On Sunday itself, 22,904 early votes were cast, compared to the previous Sunday record, just a week earlier, when there were 11,946 early votes cast.

Such was the turnout of early balloting yesterday that local officials came on television to promise that voting would be orderly and lawful.

Amazed at the spectacle, Co Offaly Fine Gael councillor John Clendennen, who I met on Sunday evening, was going to visit some of the counting centres yesterday. Clendennen had been over for the game with his brother and pals.

During a visit with some 'Chicago Tribune' group journalists, all were willing Hillary to win. Another online entrepreneur and former media executive told me he was an independent voter but had voted for Hillary. He was convinced she would win.

What worried him was the chasm now created by Trump.

He estimated that 40-50 million Americans could vote for Trump, and this would be the basis for a new political movement that could undermine the Republican party.

Over in the D4 restaurant off the Magnificent Mile on Sunday morning, I spoke with retired garda Malachy Daly from Co Roscommon. He has made a new life here and is a Democratic supporter, as is his wife. He outlined his fears for the US if Trump was elected.

At the well-known Gage bar and restaurant on Michigan Avenue South, a senior executive of a major multinational based in Chicago described himself as a 'Daley Democrat' - a reference to the long-time Irish American Mayor Daley.

He could not bring himself to vote for Hillary and couldn't stomach Donald Trump - and therefore was abstaining.

Unlike at home, there is no moratorium on election coverage in the 24 hours before polling day. All day long it was wall-to-wall coverage on all channels as both candidates set exhausting schedules for the final day of the campaign.

The 'Chicago Tribune' said the campaign "has wearied the entire nation".

Both candidates were each visiting major cities deep into the night, with Trump accusing President Obama of abusing Air Force One with his criss-crossing of the country in support of his former Secretary of State.

Mrs Clinton, however, was already speaking of healing - interpreted by some that she was already confident of securing the White House.

She delivered a closing argument that began to look ahead to how she would govern, promising she would listen even to those voters who rejected her and making a late plea for "more love and kindness".

"We have got to rise above all of this," Mrs Clinton said at a rally in Pittsburgh.

"We don't have to accept a dark and divisive vision for America. Tomorrow, you can vote for a hopeful, inclusive, big-hearted America."

Irish Independent

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