Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
Election night at Swarthmore was rough, pretty rough. A large portion of the campus just sat and watched in horror as Trump’s previously impossible victory became reality. While the election may have been disastrous, something that gives me some comfort in these uncertain times is the way in which most Swatties watched the election – they were not alone. Students watched together in groups or at viewing parties all over the school providing support for one another. I was no different. I spent six hours on-air in WSRN covering the election and reacting to what was going on, the group started off with abundant energy and enthusiasm, but our mentality steadily changed as the night progressed.
I took some snippets of video throughout the night – they’re pretty crappily shot, completely unorganized, and mostly unedited; but I think they convey the emotion of the room pretty well.
It began harmlessly enough. We spent some time actually creating content by commenting on the path the election took leading up to that night and mocking CNN’s coverage – nothing out of the ordinary for a college radio show.
Actual conversation continued here as well! People kept flowing in and out of the room, and a discussion arose of how Trump is not exactly a far-right candidate but is rather more of an outlier with unrealistic policies.
At around this time, the election began favoring Trump in an alarming manner. Fear began to creep into the conversation (the DOW diving 600 points did not reassure anyone either).
“I don’t feel like I’ve felt this kind of fear before.” A quote from September pretty much summarizes how all of us were beginning to feel at this point – more and more of the map was becoming red and we began panicking. For some seeing some our homes states go red made the situation worse. The analytical conversations from before were replaced with raw reactions to CNN’s updates and the New York Times’ 90% probability that Trump was going to win.
The electoral vote in this clip was 238 vs. 215 (Trump in the lead), and the voter gap of key states like Pennsylvania was only getting larger and more in favor of Trump. By now most conversation had stopped completely, all of it was just confused reactions to what CNN was reporting. Because we were on-air the whole time we had to tone down our actual responses to fit FCC guidelines (i.e no profanity) so for the only time during the six-hour broadcast we played a song and let out all of our emotions in a single, primal scream. It was as comedic as it was necessary.
There is a large time gap between clips five and six, at some point I must have just stopped thinking about the project I was working on. This clip occurred at around 1:30 AM – Trump’s victory seemed inevitable and the reporters on CNN were already speculating on what a Trump presidency would look like. None of us have witnessed reporters caught completely off guard like that before, some of them were visibly shaking. I had the honor of calling the election: “All hail Lord Trump.” The broadcast went on for another hour as we waited for CNN to call one more major state – when they didn’t we admitted defeat, signed off, and most of us called home on our way back to our dorms.
Election night was a long night, an exhausting night. For me it took out a lot of hope I had for the future and instead filled it with uncertainty. Who knows what a Trump presidency will look like? Who knows the impact it will have on our country? On the world? On the people around us? Only time will tell.
However the election night also proved something else to me, there is only one way all of are going to get through it okay – together. Go out and give your friends a hug, they need about as much as you do right now.