Election Night: On Politics and Princeton Part III

“This race is hotter than a Times Square Rolex.”

—Dan Rather

Even though I was relatively young when he was on the air, I enjoyed watching Dan Rather announce the results of the presidential election. Unfortunately, he no longer does this with any of the major news networks. Some of you may have noticed that I tried to create my own Dan Ratherisms on my Facebook page during election night. If only I could say them in a southern accent.

Fortunately, Princeton offers an equal amount of entertainment on election day. It is at least as important as the Super Bowl, if not more so, for everyone on campus. Throughout the day, the Whig-Clio had a photographer taking pictures of people next to “voted” balloons. In the evening, it hosted a huge election watch party.

I arrived at 8:00 pm and every room was packed tighter than a can of sardines. The first floor featured MSNBC, the second and third floors had CNN, and the fourth floor showed Fox News. Throughout the night, I walked between all of the floors but spent most of my time in the second floor CNN room because it had the fewest people. Later, I found a friend in the fourth floor and watched as Fox over eagerly predicted a Trump victory in some states before any of the other news networks. They also offered a lot of free food.

I noticed a general trend in all of the rooms. Whenever the CNN state prediction graphic appeared on the screen, the room became so silent that you could hear a needle fall. If they announced that Clinton had won a state, the room erupted in applause. If they announced that Trump had won a state, there was a collective sigh of dismay and occasionally some booing. They also applauded for comments like this. As the night wore on to the eleventh hour, it became increasingly apparent that Trump would win. When someone, at Princeton, asked me who would win the election, I always answered with “Trump” (although I do not support him). I never really believed my own prediction, yet it was what I thought the outcome would be. I did not imagine that it would actually happen like this. The good news? Florida did not mess up again.


My election prediction map

During my time at Princeton, I have only met two Trump supporters, and it is not because I sit in an exclusively liberal or otherwise bubble. One of those supporters was planning to vote for him only because of party lines. The other actually liked what he said. Most of the conservatives here, including the ones in the Fox News room, do not support him for a number of reasons ranging from his policies to his inflammatory rhetoric. The Princeton College Republicans took a neutral stance on his candidacy, neither supporting nor abandoning him. I joke that they did this because they are angry that a University of Pennsylvania graduate (Donald Trump) beat a Princeton alumnus (Ted Cruz ’92).

Nearly everyone here sympathizes with Clinton or despises Trump at some level for one of two reasons. No one has directly said this thus far, but I can assume it from what I have learned about the University.

  1. Trump has repeatedly attacked “The Establishment.” You can’t be any more “establishment” than being a student at Princeton, Harvard, or Yale. By answering affirmatively to a single college acceptance letter, we all automatically became a part of the establishment. Trump’s attacks on the Washington D.C. establishment are also an attack on the Ivy League schools because many of these politicians were educated at them, including — ironically — Trump himself.
  2. Students see themselves in Clinton. She is a professional politician who has built a résumé over the past 40 years, working her way up the metaphorical ladder, in preparation to become the first female president. She was subsequently beaten by a man who started in politics as a hobby two years ago with no prior experience. This resonates strongly with students here, at least at a subconscious level. They furiously built applications for elite colleges during high school. A number of them decided to study politics and plan to run for office. Clinton’s defeat signals the public’s distaste for public leaders of this sort. It makes students wonder if they will be able to win their own elections or if random start-ups, with less political education and experience, will defeat them. Princeton is a political factory. It churns out politics majors who go to law school, become lawyers, run for office, and work their way up to the national level. Trump’s victory challenges this system: the establishment.

At 2:00 am, I returned to my dorm. I continued to watch CNN until 3:00 am when Trump was officially declared the winner. My roommates all huddled around my laptop to watch his victory speech.

Yes, this actually did just happen…

Personally, the worst part about a Trump presidency is that he will be officially ingrained within American history. There will be Trump portraits, statues, busts, and a presidential library when he leaves office. My children will have to learn about him in American history class. His face will appear alongside George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Franklin Roosevelt. I don’t want to look at that orange oompa loompa any more than I have to. What is it with these extremely tan Republicans? Trump, Pence, Boehner, Graham, the list goes on.

There are a few upsides to Trump’s victory. First, John Oliver will be incredibly funny this Sunday, and he is guaranteed a job for the next four years. Second, we can now make a lot of Trump puns like, “watch out ISIS, America has the Trump card” and other cheezy lines. Third, at least we do not have another Yalie in office.


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  1. Pingback: Week in Review 11/6-12/16 | My Side of Paradise

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