By Ian Macartney
All parties become wastelands, eventually, and as this one hits midnight it’s no exception. The carpet has become a desert of Dorito crumbs, stale beer and deformed Haribo, the debris of a once active gathering. Think the Republicans and you’re on the right track.
It’s November 9th and one percent of the vote has been counted. The map is mostly grey; Florida jumps between salmon pink and light blue, towards Trump and towards Clinton, ultimately undecided. I don’t know whose flat we’re in, initially (which I could say is a metaphor for the disorientation of the American people, if I wanted) but then I talk, in the way people usually do at parties. I find out that the host studies International Relations; he’s from London and has a nice little book collection. I notice a Qur’an and a Bible on the topmost shelf. “That’s cool”, I tell him; he said he hadn’t read the former yet, but was curious. I like him.
He is also burning incense, briefly creating the atmosphere of a church. Someone thinks it’s weed. An economics student (absolutely smashed) starts reciting the Lord’s Prayer when the aroma became noticeable, kind of as a joke, except he was so faithful to the idea of finishing it off and knew it so well it was more genuine than he intended, which fits, considering the results. They trickle in, painfully slow and repetitive, like a drip of water falling on to our poor, innocent heads. This, the Guantanamo Bay of elections, if you will. I join in halfway through (for the Lord’s Prayer, that is, not Guantanamo Bay).
Someone wants Trump to win because he gets two hundred pounds from a bet; another because he’s from St Andrews. And because Clinton’s corrupt, or something. “Come on,” he says, when there’s a strait of pink along the East Coast, like acne. “Your guilty conscience wants him to win. Your dark side!” And he shakes me excitedly from time to time when a new state blinks red, even though actually I’d just prefer to sit in front of the TV, thanks, like some kid watching their favourite cartoon, except the cartoon is a dumpster fire. There’s a chant of “Trump, Trump, Trump…” and I don’t know if it’s a joke or if this is real. Probably both. Do people think there is a 10th Circle in Hell for people with improper email etiquette? Compared to demagogues who commit sexual assault which is more, like, a purgatory thing. I suppose it’s unfair of me to say that. As the saying goes, “All that glitters is gold and I have the best gold, you’re going to get so sick of all this great gold, make Knox Fort again, etc.”
There’s people screaming and throwing balls into urine-esque cups of cheap wine. Money Man walks around, incredulous at his upcoming fortune. “Two hundred pounds!” Trap music plays. Glass bottles stand on the table like a half-drunk city skyline. The economics student is dancing with furious casualness, intensely at ease in the majestic flailing of his limbs. I try to not make eye contact with him, but also don’t want to appear passive-aggressive, so I end up making a face which makes me look “perpetually bemused”, as he tells me. He’s not that wrong.
Watching us all in our drunken abandon, Blu-Tacked on the walls, is a printed handout of Bernie Sanders, face photoshopped on to Jesus, lamb in arms. There are similar pictures of the third party candidates, except they’re stuck in the bathroom. Two hundred or so delegates to go. It’s going to be a long morning-night.