Hello from a grey and somewhat subdued New York City. It's about twelve hours since we've known the outcome of the election cycle, and I don't entirely know what to think. So, what follows are mumblings- inspired by the things we have been up to for the last week.
It's a big place
We drove about a thousand miles and barely left New York State. The USA is huge and has vast swathes of natural resource and so I think I am beginning to understand why it doesn't have an international narrative like much of Europe. In that big space we definitely saw more Trump signs than Clinton ones, more conservatism than liberalism. In eight days we saw three minutes of news about affairs overseas (and no, we were not watching Fox News). Anyone you mention Brexit to looks at you like you are asking about a new drug- so the frame of international reference is negligible outside of the Beltway,.
It's lost a lot
One of the things about looking at a map rather than a guidebook when you plan, is that you end up in places like Binghamton. Over breakfast on Monday our server was telling us about all the things that "used" to be there. Mainly defence related but now in California or overseas. This place sits just at the edge of the rust belt, feeling like it is struggling to know why it is there. Enter stage right someone with a compelling answer to the question (if not the problem)
It's a manly place
I am tall: so I have a weirdly adjusted masculinity radar (this requires a long other blog post). But the American version of masculinity feels a bit different to the UK one. I'm not sure it was ready to be led by a woman. It's a narrative that very few are owning. "That" woman, maybe, but not any woman, For what it's worth, I have long felt that the USA would accept leadership from an African American woman before a white one. Also evangelical Christians generally think women should only lead children and women (broad but not altogether untrue brush stroke). Lest I let my Catholic brethren get away with it, we went to Mass on Monday and the priest there preached that corruption will get worse, be more Catholic... I'll let you look at the Latino vote and draw your own conclusions.
A Lot of people didn't vote
We stopped to get coffee from a Tim Hortons (oh the irony) on the way into Manhattan this morning. The lady who served us hasn't got her citizenship yet so couldn't vote but was saying that lots of people hadn't voted. The assistant in Macy's simply said she "wasn't into politics" (In a society which puts its children into cliques at school does it mean that politics is a niche thing?). Weirdly the most engaged person I saw today was a homeless guy asking on Madison Avenue if Wall Street had picked up.
America believes in democracy
This is a nation which believes in its systems I think. The politicos like what they have system wise.. So they will bounce. Do this weird result in the UK and we talk about PR and gerrymandering. Here it is what it is and is believed to be a good system. Will that last for four years?
And it's not over yet
It's possible that President Elect Trump could be on trial before January 20th. We should perhaps all do a bit of revision on Mike Pence.
It's subdued here: but by this afternoon people were a little more chatty than this morning and as Brits we need to remember that it will now torpor until January.. Watch this space.