What’s it like to watch a US election unfold in Singapore? We’re thirteen hours ahead of the East Coast, so when their returns started rolling in on Tuesday night of November 8th, we were already well into our workday. So watching the returns became a public act. Everyone had something up on their computers — CNN, The New York Times, fivethirtyeight — and you could hear people yelling across the office as a state went red or blue.
And then you could feel a pall start to settle as the map turned redder and redder. Our office is largely American (with a few Canadians thrown into the mix), and it became clear yesterday that everyone is left-leaning to some degree or another. The mood grew darker as the afternoon wore on. People stopped functioning well, though we were trying to interact and have actual meetings together. But we just didn’t know how to process the news in the middle of the workday. And it was crazy for me to have the final Trump announcement made by a particularly gleeful and smug young man in the middle of mock trial practice.
I was so proud last month to have cast my vote for the person whom I thought would be my first woman president. That was an incredibly exciting moment (though casting a Maryland absentee ballot from Singapore in mid-October has a certain anticlimactic qualify to it). A true child of the 70s, I felt like I’d been waiting for the chance to bring a woman into the Oval Office for decades.
Even so, I had always said, “this country will never elect a female president.” It never seemed like enough people in the US believed that a woman could do that job. I was looking forward to having Hillary — and the rest of the country — prove me wrong. And now it is difficult to communicate the depth of my disappointment. It’s like I’m experiencing most of the stages of grief — denial, anger, depression — all at once. My fear is that now I definitely will not see a female president in my lifetime. And while being in Singapore isolates me from some of the waves of emotion that must be flooding over the US, it also makes me feel more politically helpless than ever. Not a good feeling.