America has a new president, and his name is Donald J. Trump.
Lisa Tyson, president of the Long Island Progressive Coalition, thinks that this year’s vitriolic election has been an educational experience for many Americans, and not necessarily in a good way.
“I think it has opened up a lot of people to realize that they’re very different from their neighbors in their way of thinking,” she said. “I think that’s a bad thing at this point unless we have some honest conversation about empathy and believing other people’s feelings and why they’re feeling that way.”
Tyson was one of several individuals of different political stripes the Herald caught up with in the hours before the polls closed Tuesay to ask if they predict seeing the partisan divide starting to heal now that we have a president-elect.
Few were optimistic.
“I don’t really think (Clinton) cares about people with opposite views to hers,” said Cindy Corcoran, of Bellmore, at the polls.
“I think (the election) will separate it further. There’s so much controversy now with both parties. The candidates have so much background,” said John Tucker, 18, of Merrick. “Honestly, I can’t wait for it to be over.”
“It’s a he-said-she-said game,” Thomas Tucker, 23, of Merrick, agreed.
In his victory speech early Wednesday morning, Trump assured the nation that he would be the president of “all the people,” and did not mention whether he would pursue further investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server.
“I hate to have a pessimistic view, I’d like to think whoever the winner is would uplift the country. Based on what (Trump) has shown people though, I don’t believe he could do that. Maybe there’s a side of him he hasn’t shown,” said Sarah Taylor, 37, of Merrick.
However, Augustine Flores, of Bellmore, said that he believed if Clinton had been elected, she would have reached out to supporters of the Republican nominee.
“Probably. She has more experience when it comes to politics and reaching out to people,” he said.
The likelihood of a post-election “Kumbaya” moment seemed scarcer as the day approached, with Trump intimating on several occasions that he might have refused to concede the election if he believed the results to be fraudulent.
Tyson (speaking before Trump was declared the winner) said that the possibility of some of Trump’s supporters following suit frightened her.
“Some of his supporters are already saying that if he loses, they’ll make hell,” she said. “I don’t know (what that means). It’s scary.”
“I think Trump supporters might cause an uproar if he doesn’t win. Some of them said they were going to riot and they’re the only voters who vocalized something like that. It wouldn’t happen in New York, but maybe somewhere like Arizona or Ohio,” agreed Ruth Johnson, of Bellmore.
Tucker was more general in his prediction.
“There will be riots and protests no matter who wins. There always have been. Nobody can think in unison,” he said.
Common among Democrats and even some Republican “Never-Trumpers” has been a half-serious vow to move either north (to Canada) or south (to Mexico), should the former reality show star win the election.
“I will stay in this country,” Tyson laughed, adding however that she would be “very upset,” should Trump take the White House.
“I would be upset for my daughter, for my family, for the people I care about,” she said. “I will accept him as my president, but I will keep organizing locally to try to keep him from doing things that are destructive.”
South Merrick Community Civic Association President Joe Baker meanwhile said that he believes that after some initial problems, supporters on the losing side will accept the results.
“Democracy is the best system we have … and whoever wins will have four years to prove themselves,” he said.