Donald Trump's election has brought silence to the New York subway

After a turbulent election, there is still a sense of shock over the election result

Silent subways. In all of my years around New York City - 19 years as a resident and many others as a visitor or nearby neighbour - I'd never heard anyone describe the subways as "silent.”  

Obviously, the rattle and rumble of the cars clanging from station to station cannot quite get muted. That’s not what this is about. The subway was shut down for two days after 9/11, but basic subway noise was somewhat normal, if muted, after that finished.

But, I've never heard someone use the term "silent subways."  

I know some of this firsthand, as my subway ride to and from work on the Thursday after this week's election was just about that. In my workaday world as an advertising executive, I had lined up five meetings in New Jersey for the day after the election. That meant I was in my car, not a subway, on the morning after the election, but the rumour was the subways were silent on Wednesday morning.

My first meeting was a breakfast meeting at a diner in New Jersey - it was very Bruce Springsteen of me, except I was wearing a suit and tie. 

Both myself and the woman I was meeting with were exhausted from having stayed up late the night before to watch it all unfold. I went to bed at 2 am and awoke at 6 am to the news that President-elect Trump was voted in. I lightly tossed and turned for the next 90 minutes before I got out of bed. 

At breakfast, I turned to my meeting companion and said: "You'll understand that I'm ordering chocolate chip pancakes," as if they would be a delicacy before this nation becomes some sort of a scene in a Mad Max movie.

I have to admit that most of Wednesday was business as usual. Those five meetings in New Jersey went smoothly and I kept attune to developments on my car stereo.

I had an entire day in New Jersey before I returned to Manhattan for a meeting of the Irish Business Organization of New York where - believe it or not - we were undertaking our own annual election. Thankfully, that election went smoothly, aside from a few bruised egos.

The overall vibe in this city a few days post-election - and I think, in the nation - is a mix of shock, fear, disappointment and then there are those who want to wait-and-see.

Shock resonates in the fact that nearly all of the mainstream polls, and certainly most of the media outlets, were calling for Hillary Clinton to win. There’s almost a separate, different sense of shock that Mr. Trump won.

Fear resonates in the groups of individuals who have seen and heard the rhetoric from Trump and his many surrogates that would slight or slant things against them. 

This would be the LGBTQ community, women in general and immigrants - both legal and illegal. I’ve heard from friends inside all of those communities from around the country about their fear of what’s next. Will the rhetoric match the actions of President Trump?

Disappointment resides in many people on both sides of the aisle in Congress, Democratic & Republican alike. This shared feeling is due to a number of factors:

  • Disappointed that some 47 million registered voters stayed home, and many millions more who are eligible to vote are not registered in their respective districts
  • Disappointed that someone with absolutely no experience in politics or true international diplomacy has been elected to the highest office in the land, and the most powerful position in the world
  • Disappointed that both political parties surfaced two such flawed candidates

The wait-and-see people are the most reserved of the lot. Honestly, I put myself in this category. One friend of mine is a business owner here in Manhattan, Danny Mizrazhi.  He runs an IT firm for small-to-medium sized businesses. Upon seeing the protests and rancour, he commented on Facebook:

"Now that CNN is reporting Trump to win popular vote also, can we stop?  Wanting him to fail is like wanting the pilot of your own plane to crash. Let's pray he does well. Americans outside of our privileged bubble are desperate. Desperation leads to fear. Fear to hate. Hate to the dark side."

The bit about the popular vote is inaccurate, it seems, but the rest is is a sentiment is one that I’ve seen and heard a good bit of. When someone asked “What do you want him to succeed at?," Danny's response was clear:

"I can think of a few things. 1) Now that he's in with the angry, teach them equality. 2) Better smarter government spending. 3) Try and get exports up, imports down. 4) Improve international relations. 5) Increase jobs by lowering taxes and making healthcare more affordable."

I’ve said to a few folks myself: "Listen, if the first two years are bad, we have mid-term elections that can send a message about the direction we want to see from the House and Senate. If that message doesn’t get through, we have an election four years from now to change course entirely."

I understand the pain and frustration of these groups here - and it’s possible I’ve left some out - but, we are where we are for a myriad of reasons that need to be worked out and worked on. These groups have felt threatened & maligned by Trump supporters & others.

It is therefore vital that we make the best of all of this. As Benjamin Franklin put it: “We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall hang separately!"

Eventually, the "silent subways" will return to normal.