Journal

Personal explorations and stories I find on the way

The elephant in the room

Front house wars. Tampa, Fl. 2016

The future was laid there, right in front of everyone's eyes. If you wanted to see it, you would have. While the media screamed, the streets whispered and, no matter how loud of a scream, the results came out and the whisperers decided.

Departing from New York, now also known as "the bubble", the plan was to stop briefly at several battleground cities while making the way down to Tampa, Florida. It is key to say that, before departure, the election results seemed irreversible and set on stone. 

The first stop was Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: one day before the elections, the streets seemed like any other ordinary day. Little did they know that 24 hours later, the final decision would partially rest on their shoulders. 

Front house wars. Tampa, Fl. 2016

Front house wars. Tampa, Fl. 2016

The streets were empty the night before, the bars had close to none costumers and TVs played football. No one was willing to talk about it, most wanted a way out of the conversation. Tampa alone holds a quarter of Florida's registered Republicans and legend has it that Florida always votes for the winning candidate. But this elections were irregular: plenty of people weren't convinced by either candidate, even though they both raised strong feelings in voters. The outcome was unpredictable.

"May God bless us today", the women screamed as she held an election ballot. Front house wars. Tampa, Fl. 2016

"May God bless us today", the women screamed as she held an election ballot.
Front house wars. Tampa, Fl. 2016

Tampa is as purple as it gets, an all time battleground, and an unpredictable melting pot of socialist conservatives, hispanic conservatives, and all the possible mixes in between. It has all different levels of income, colors, races, religions and political opinions. It is part of the I-4 corridor, a region encompassing St. Petersburg through Daytona Beach, also the region that received most attention, with many political analysts arguing that it would all come down to these states.

The City knew the burden it carried, how all eyes were placed on them, how they might be the ones making the final decisions. Being under such pressures in one of the most emotional political races in recent years worked backwards: nobody said anything and, if they did, it was coded, between whispers.

"If you gonna come here, you gonna do the right thing!" A small group of African-Americans screamed at the entrance of a polling station near the University of South Florida, as they held "Patrick Murphy" signs.  

Front house wars. Tampa, Fl. 2016

Front house wars. Tampa, Fl. 2016

"People don't know what they want, they'd rather starve before supporting a pro-abortion politician, or marihuana legalization", a man said at a bar on the night before elections, "When you put politics in the territory of morality, it all becomes a mess... How can you argue when someone says that babies should be killed before birth?"

There is a world, inside an outside of the New York-Los Angeles bubble, that silently awaited for recognition, solidarity and the outrage of these cities towards the conditions they have endured for years. A vast majority of people who have seen their family's economy drop to the ground, who fear their identity is being stolen. Dozens of interviewed citizens debated within themselves: 'Which is the lesser evil? Should I go for change or continue with the conditions we've endured for years?'

Wether or not the outcome will please the reasoning behind their vote is a whole different story. What cannot be stated is that those fears and anxieties are false: they truly and undeniably exist within a great portion of North American citizens. If they are, or not, based on measurable facts, does not change their existence and power. 

 

Front house wars. Tampa, Fl. 2016

Front house wars. Tampa, Fl. 2016

Before the day of elections, things were already shaping up, 50% had already voted and Hillary Clinton was tightly above Donald Trump. But, as the day went on, it became more and more obvious that things were not what they seemed (from the New York perspective). One thing became quickly apparent: these elections were not based on rationality on either end.

It doesn't really matter who or what is to blame. When elections are so peculiar, it is hardly one single element that carries all the weight. Maybe the media was to blame for turning a presidential election into a personal war, where intimate details became headlines quicker than the substance of the matter. Maybe Clinton's campaign underestimated Black and Latino vote. Maybe feminism, racism, populism, authoritarianism and all other isms that humanity has struggled with for hundreds of years. Maybe it is as simple as historical cycles.

The one thing that was certain is that some were voting with the head while others were voting with the guts and when these type of organs play a role into decisive moments, they cannot speak to each other. And when the two clashed, it seemed like a reminder of a teenage summer love: no matter how much facts, numbers and reasoning a mother tries to throw at it, the path is set and what will be, will be. Even if it ends in tears and a broken heart. 

Front house wars. Tampa, Fl. 2016

Front house wars. Tampa, Fl. 2016

Florida is so complex, with many layers of emotion, contradiction, insecurities and determinations. If anyone would have judged by listening to the radio, Trump's victory would've been crystal clear yet, depending on where one stopped and asked, the swing was more evident. Travelling around all of Tampa, from Fish Hawk to Lake Magdalene, stopping by mayor polling places in between, the difference between candidates tightened, the air changed, the landscape changed. People cheered, more and more, until the "silent majority" stopped being silent, the elephant left the room, and the obvious became unstoppable. 

Front house wars. Tampa, Fl. 2016

Front house wars. Tampa, Fl. 2016

Adriana L.