The U.S. election results have shocked and saddened some local American citizens as, Tuesday night, Donald Trump swept to victory despite early predictions of a Democratic victory that would have seen the installation of the first female in the highest office of the USA.
For others, it was a re-taking of America for the self described “outsiders,” and a repudiation of what some American’s saw as the political elite.
Sandra Jones works with an international organization of American expatriates, Democrats Abroad. The organization works to inform Americans living abroad and to help them cast ballots in American elections. She resides in Victoria where she said the interest of the large American population had been unprecedented prior to this election.
Fighting back tears following the election, Jones described her reaction as numb and terrified.
“My parents were Puerto Rican, but our skin was white enough to allow them to live in a white neighbourhood. As a child, I remember going into a store and speaking Spanish to my father who bent down and warned me how some people would treat me different if I didn’t speak English. I never forgot that, and had hoped we’d moved beyond that sort of prejudice. The election results showed me that white nationalism is alive and well in America,” said Jones. “I’m very sad.”
The Republican ticket took the White House with a surprising wave of votes, allowing Trump to sweep every battleground state, including Florida where the anticipated surge of hispanic voters in support of Hillary Clinton never materialized.
Andrew Wender, a professor in the department of history and political science at the University of Victoria and an American expatriates, attributed the populism of the Trump campaign to an appeal to racist prejudices brewing throughout the eight years of the Obama presidency.
“Trump tapped into the politics of race, beginning with his promotion of the birther movement, and then through the prejudice against Mexicans, and the intense Isalmophobia,” said Wender.
“He utilized conservative dog-whistles to appeal to the tendency to radicalize born from the first African-American presidency in U.S. history. Trump showed that America is a deeply divided country and these divisions will continue. It is a potentially violent aspect to the American body politic.”
It will take time to determine the effect of the choice of Donald Trump as president, said Wender.
“If there’s one message I can pass along to Canadians, it’s to watch over your country carefully and take care of your democratic institutions. Guard against the unravelling of political discourse…it can unravel in a hurry, as we’ve seen in America. We’re now a wounded nation,” he said.