Today I went to see my grandpa in Sussex. I haven’t seen him since last Christmas, what with going to Italy for six months and all, so today my mum, Youngest Sister and I went. He’s very very deaf and getting much more tired; he’s in his late nineties, so it’s entirely natural, but rather sad. We did what we usually do: talked with him, went to this fucking amazing Indian place (the best I’ve ever found by far, and that includes some Brick Lane eateries), did some errands for him. Then Youngest Sister went to a feminist meeting I’m sad to be missing, about fighting the fucking ludicrous
abortion ban in Northern Ireland - appallingly, in part of my own country, abortions are illegal unless the mother’s life is in danger. I came to work. My students haven’t shown up, so I’m doing the same thing I’ve been doing all day: a moment without a specific thing to think about, and I’m worrying about the American election.( I haven’t posted about Trump really )
Oh, and here’s something else I think is important that I haven’t seen talked about much. There’ve been a lot of Brexit comparisons drawn with Trump’s ascendancy. I think some of those parallels hold water, but some don’t - I won’t get into that here, although we can do it in comments. (Also, the polls DID predict Brexit. People were surprised because they ignored the margin of error and that London is its own world.) I think the possibly more instructive, and scarier, comparison is with the British general election last year.
The Conservatives were not predicted a majority. Professional politicians, party leaders, well-known pundits all predicted a minority government or hung parliament. When the exit polls came out at 10pm, showing a ten-seat Tory majority, Paddy Ashdown (former Lib Dem leader and eminence grisee) said he’d eat his hat if they were correct. They weren’t. The Tories had a majority of seventeen
Why were the polls so wrong? ‘Shy Tories’. People were not willing to admit to pollsters that they were planning to vote Conservative. How much stronger must that effect be for Trump voters?
They’re not idiots; they know what people think. And there’s a documented effect where people say they’ll vote for a woman (or POC) but in the booth? They don’t.
However far ahead Clinton looks now, I can’t believe it yet. I want to. But… last May I went to my friends’ flat to watch the election get called. We started with olives and wine, and then at 10pm the Tory victory was predicted and we switched to chocolate and gin. I fell asleep WhatsApping a friend on the 23rd of June and woke up just before seven am to see three crying emojis on my screen. Chills go through me at the thought of it happening again, and worse.
I was scared of Romney. I’m scared of Republicans in general: I have a lot of friends who are women, POC, LGBTQ+, or some combination, living in the USA and deserving full rights over their bodies and lives. But it was nothing like this.