This Historic and Unexpected Election | The Washington Center

This Historic and Unexpected Election

I do not know a lot about politics, at all actually. However, being in America during election season made me want to follow this process, so I went to every debate watch party I could.


Last Tuesday, I went to George Washington University to watch the election day results. Even though I may not know a lot about politics, I wanted to share how I feel about the outcome as a Belgian citizen. I also want to note that it’s not my intention, at all, to be disrespectful to any candidate. I just want to share my perspective in an honest way.


At George Washington University


When we were still excited and enthusiastic

During the months preceding the elections, I got a lot of questions from friends and family in Belgium: "So, Eline, who’s going to win the election?" "Who’s going be the president?" I always responded: "Hillary, of course." I honestly would have bet money (maybe even my house) on her winning the election. I thought there was almost zero chance that Trump could win the presidency.


However, on election night, he moved ahead of her really quickly. From the beginning, I was surprised by how close the percentages were. I thought Hillary would win many states with at least 60% of the vote. But then I noticed that the difference was only a few tenths of a percent in many places—and Trump was winning more than I thought he would. I was still optimistic and kind of laughing it away, thinking: “Oh, just let him have these wins; he’s never going to make it anyways.” Wrong.


As the night went on, it became clear that Hillary was not going to make it after all. By 1:00 am, there was still no end result, so we decided to go home. After she lost Pennsylvania, I knew that we had lost the fight. The next morning, I woke up receiving emails from Belgian newspapers with breaking news: Trump is the new president of the United States. A next email followed: Belgium is shocked by the end result. And not only was Belgium shocked, but the whole world seemed to be shocked.


And I do not, by any means, want to show disrespect. What I am is astounded. Astounded by the fact that people could actually vote for someone who has said any of the things he has said. I do not know if he really is the person that his words make him look like, but these words should be enough to disqualify anyone as your next president. I am not the only one that is astounded, however, since a lot of people in Washington D.C., NYC, Idaho, California and many more states and cities are protesting and rioting. Yesterday, for example, a vigil with candles was held at the White House, although we heard a lot of protesters throughout the city as well.



Like I said before, people in Belgium were shocked by the result. Today, a situation like this could never ever happen in our country. We do have extreme right parties, but still, they are nothing compared to Trump. He just falls off the political spectrum in Belgium.


In 1991, the extreme right party (called Vlaams Belang, literally translated as Flemish Importance, that wanted to separate Flanders from Wallonia and was against minorities) was popular and got a lot more votes than expected. Up until today, we talk about this day as ‘Black Sunday.' However, in Belgium, we have a coalition system with multiple parties running instead of just two, and the government is formed by multiple parties that together make up 50% of the votes. However, when Vlaams Belang received more votes that anyone could have ever expected, none of the other parties wanted to form a coalition with them because their party was too extreme, so they never ruled in the government. Fortunately.


This principle gives extreme parties and people no chance to represent our country, as I feel it should be. Since this could never happen in Belgium, people from my country were shocked and disgusted by the outcome of this American election. I still do not believe that Trump is going to represent the U.S., but the election outcomes are what they are and nothing can be changed about that. So, instead of complaining about this, I suggest we try to see the bigger picture and give him a real chance with an open mind. And never, in any instance, should we go after each other for not agreeing with each other’s opinions, as this quote says:




Your Entangled European,



Read Eline's previous blog posts

Experience a Day in the Life of an Intern at The Washington Center

Learn More