TRYING TO FIND A SILVER LINING IN A LONG, DARK NIGHT
People were lined up on the sidewalk outside the Showbox, the site of The Stranger's election night party, before the doors opened at 4 p.m. A diverse-for-Seattle assortment of liberals and progressives quickly filled the venue, everyone excited to witness and celebrate the election of the first woman to the presidency of the United States.
As people streamed in, we had a brief conversation about the net full of balloons hanging from the ceiling. The networks might call the election for Hillary Clinton soon after polls started closing on the East Coast at 5 p.m. Seattle time. Should we drop the balloons when Clinton wins, even if it's still early in the night? Or should wait until results came in from Washington State?
Drop them when Clinton wins, everyone agreed, no matter how early.
The first returns were promising—Clinton pulled ahead in Florida after briefly trailing Donald Trump in the Gunshine State—but then the numbers started to flip. States began turning red faster than the crowd could process. Smiles went too tight, and then faded. A huge cheer went up when Clinton briefly took an electoral college lead, but everyone could see the math was working against her.
By the time the networks started all-but-calling the election for Donald J. Trump, the Showbox was nearly empty. The crowd watched, stunned, as the United States committed bigot-assisted suicide. The few people who remained struggled to reconcile liberal and progressive victories in Washington State—Democratic governor and US senator reelected, massive transit package approved, minimum wage hiked—with the catastrophic results of the national election.
Reconciliation wasn't possible.
Anyone but a fucking woman, says America. Anyone.
Activist DeRay McKesson on Twitter: “I'’m tired of people saying that Trump had no ground game. His ground game was white supremacy. He had a ground game & it made an impact.”
Racist, unqualified xenophobe beats most qualified person to ever run for president, because women and people of color are too scary.
SOUND TRANSIT 3 WINS
Fucking fuck, y'all. We finally found some good fucking news, and you're gonna need it.
Sound Transit 3—the biggest light rail measure ever put before voters here, a light rail measure that promises to radically reshape our region—has passed with 55 percent of the vote across three counties.
"Our region will be positively transformed forever," Transportation Choices Coalition executive director Shefali Ranganathan told an enthusiastic crowd.
"We are saying yes to a better economy," said King County executive Dow Constantine. "Yes to a cleaner environment, yes to a better quality of life."
The crowd here was happy but still palpably on edge from the national results. Soon, Seattle mayor Ed Murray took the stage to praise ST3 and then offer his best (if awkward) attempt at consoling the crowd on the national front.
"Regardless of what happens, tomorrow morning Seattle wakes up the same city," Murray said. "Seattle wakes up as a city that welcomes immigrants... wakes up as a city that does not have a religious test."
SOMBER FACES AS THE CARBON TAX FALLS
At Peddler Brewing Company on Leary Way tonight, a big crowd showed up proud and hopeful, sitting happily and sipping beers and ciders at picnic tables under a heated tent out back.
"I've been biking for a half hour—what's going on?" John Kydd of Bainbridge Island asked when he arrived. SECB told him Trump was up and what he said turned out to be telling not only on Trump but on Initiative 732 in the end.
"I must be clueless," Kydd said. "It's from living in this bubble."
SECB knew it would be a long night for I-732 when the Audubon man took the stage...
Pre-8 p.m.: Audubon man speaks about his passion for birds and says he is tempted to block the presidential election reporting on the screen behind him. He seems to betray an utter lack of ability to link the national disaster of racism, sexism, and ignorance of massive proportions unfolding to the... birds.
Slightly less pre-8 p.m.: "This would be the nation's first carbon tax and we could set a national precedent!" one of the organizers of I-732 announced. Excitement!
8:39 p.m. brings the hammer down: 732 is failing with only Snohomish and Douglas Counties not reporting, but campaign codirector Kyle Murphy vows, "Whatever happens, we're gonna keep fighting for good climate policy... We won King County and that's a start... Let's get as close as we possibly can and use that to set the stage for more progress."
9:10 p.m.: 732 goes down 58 to 41 percent. No announcement. Just the SECB checking the state website. Earlier, Murphy admitted that he agreed with critics of 732 that the initiative wasn't perfect. But he was excited that climate change could begin to become a mainstream issue. That said, this crowd isn't going anywhere. They're gearing up for more.
THE MOOD AT BRADY WALKINSHAW’S PARTY WAS FOUL
With CNN blaring from all sides and Trump leading, there were tears. There was a drunk, dazed person stumbling around and a lot of emotional embracing at Brady Walkinshaw's party at the Canterbury Ale House on Capitol Hill. This was more of a group therapy session than a party.
The results from the first King County ballot drop showed Pramila Jayapal, always the favorite to win the seat to represent Seattle in Congress, with a massive 16-point lead over Walkinshaw: 57 percent to 43 percent.
Walkinshaw gave a quick and classy speech, thanking supporters and congratulating Jayapal on a strong campaign—though not officially conceding just yet. He called the results "disappointing" and acknowledged it's a "big gap." He said the two candidates always had much more in common than they disagree about. And he did not hesitate when asked whether he would fully support her in Congress, should she indeed win: "Yes, of course."
"We as progressives, especially from this place, the Northwest," Walkinshaw said, "have an opportunity to make this country better."
Supporter Laura Bernstein told me her husband is supporting Jayapal. "There's a lot of divided houses and friendships over this race," she said cheerfully. "And we're going to have to get over that." (She said she fully expected Trump to win and is looking forward to organizing against him.)
Walkinshaw gestured to CNN and called what we were seeing nationally "scary," and people began filing out of the bar to head home.
PRAMILA JAYAPAL: “WE WILL HAVE TO FIGHT FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE LIKE NEVER BEFORE.”
Many high-pitched screams and chants of "PRA-MI-LA" when the first (and very delayed) King County results dropped: Jayapal had shot decisively into the lead with nearly 57 percent of the vote to Brady Walkinshaw's 43 percent.
Jayapal took the stage in front of a packed room of her supporters and called the election a historic one.
"We are electing the first woman in the 7th District," she said, "and the first South Asian woman in United States Congress."
But Jayapal also acknowledged the night's increasingly likely odds that Donald Trump will win the presidency.
"If our worst fears are realized, we will be on defense starting tomorrow," Jayapal said. "And we will need to fight not just for our progressive ideals, but to stop a disastrous rollback of mainstream progress in this country." She continued: "We will have to fight for social justice like never before, and we will have to fight to protect our very basic freedoms and rights as citizens."
"That is not the fight that I would have chosen," Jayapal said, "but I will fight it."
“THIS IS NOW A DEMOCRATIC DICTATORSHIP”
The scene at Saba Ethiopian Cuisine on 12th Avenue on Capitol Hill on election night was casual and intense. Coffee and beer. Men in a back room played carambola, and they spiked their sentences with the word "Trump" as they banked balls into the corner pocket. Others in the restaurant gathered around small tables, their eyes glued to CNN on the widescreen TV.
Muluneh Yohannes sat in the corner with some friends. He's 38, lives in Northgate, and hails from Ethiopia, where he received a degree in political science from Addis Ababa University. Norwich University in Vermont graduated him with a degree in conflict management and diplomacy. He moved to Seattle in 2003, and he's currently a social worker for the Seattle Fire Department, as well as a human rights advocate in the local Ethiopian community.
At 10:40 p.m. PST, the New York Times was showing Donald Trump with a 95 percent chance of winning the presidency.
"I'm surprised," he said. "My expectation is that he'd lose the election because of his attitude, lack of details that matter to the country, his very limited knowledge and experience on foreign policy, and I though this manner would affect negatively the election result."
He thinks this election was about one thing in particular: change. "People here need to change—what—the colors of their bedrooms? They always want to see something new. Hillary Clinton was a continuation of Barack Obama in a lot of ways, and that probably frustrated a portion of the population."
The other big issue, according to Yohannes, was misogyny: "I don't think America is ready for a woman president. If that's the case, that worries me more. Women need to have equal opportunity and access for everything, including the presidency."
He's not worried about Trump personally, and thinks president Trump will act differently than candidate Trump, but he's worried about America's foreign policy.
"I'm worried about another war," he said. "And in general, our alliance with many countries will be affected negatively. But we don't know how this guy is going to act!"
He's also worried about the Republicans taking the House and the Senate. "This is now a democratic dictatorship," he said.
SANITY AND SURE HANDS AT THE INSLEE PARTY
The mood inside the Washington State Democratic Party's election celebration was tense and sullen thanks to news of Donald Trump's wins in Florida and Ohio. Even Hillary Clinton's success right here in Washington State didn't seem to fully lift people's spirits.
But then some good news finally rolled in. Our Democratic governor, Jay Inslee, was solidly beating former Port of Seattle commissioner Bill Bryant, 56 percent to 44 percent. Governor Inslee, accompanied by his family, managed to be all smiles when he took the stage. The crowd (finally) grinned right back. Although a xenophobic megalomaniac was leading the presidential polls, Washingtonians still had their progressive leader.
Inslee greeted the crowd hoarsely—he'd clearly been celebrating and speechifying for some time.
"Washington was, is, and always will be a beacon for progressive values," Inslee said in a crackly voice. "Washington voted tonight to stay in the path of progress. We will keep moving forward. It's as important as ever for us to band together."
To whoops and cheers (and some tears, if this SECB member saw correctly), Inslee celebrated the night's successes here at home: the passage of a sorely needed gun safety measure and a higher statewide hourly minimum wage. In the wake of Washington's failed carbon tax measure, Inslee assured the audience—a crowd that was in dire need of something good—that Washington still championed fighting climate change and ensuring that the state's communities of color and different religions had a true home in the Evergreen State.