US election: Americans in Scotland fear for result of vote
Devon Magliozzi spent a sleepless night on Tuesday watching the election results pour in.
News that the result was still unclear, with the electoral college votes close between President Donald Trump and opposition candidate Joe Biden, left her - and family and friends - feeling on edge.
“I just felt demoralised when I woke up,” says the research consultant, who moved to Edinburgh from New York a year ago for her partner to take up a new job. “I would still give the edge to Biden in terms of winning, but it’s not going to be a resounding victory either way, which is demoralising.
“A vote for Biden felt like a vote that there was still hope America could become less divided and a bit more generous for a lot of people who live there. The idea of another four years of Donald Trump would just feel like the government would continue to not care about the well being of a lot of Americans.”
Amanda Rogers, founder of film organisation Cinetopia in Leith, is equally nervous as a Democrat voter. From Florida, she lived in New York before moving to Edinburgh three years ago.
"Before last night, I was fairly confident, then I woke up at 3am and it was a little more scary than I had hoped. There’s so much on the line, it's quite anxiety-inducing. In the last four years, America has become so polarised and Biden made me feel comfortable that he would repair what has been lost in the country.
"I felt like this was the most important election of my adult life and I knew how I had to vote.”
Medical photographer Gavin Bragdon, originally from New Hampshire, has lived in Scotland for 11 years.
He says: “I voted Democrat because because I feel Trump and the ideology behind him must be repudiated. I feel that it is our generation's equivalent of the Facist movements from the 1920s and 30s and the state of western democracy hangs in the balance.
“This election has shown that America is deeply, deeply polarised between two sides that seem increasingly intractable and increasingly see the other as an "other". I worry there will be violence no matter who ultimately wins. Furthermore, whatever the outcome, I would say this mess of an election has further tarnished America's standing in the world. At best, I am hoping that Biden wins and over time, healing these divisions can begin and America can be put on the right track as opposed to flying off the rails as it has been under Trump. However, the lack of a decisive victory for Biden seems to ensure that this will be much harder to achieve than hoped.”
He adds: "America is in a very dangerous place right now.”
For Chantelle Hudghton, a political researcher from California living in East Lothian, the decision wasn’t so easy. Usually a staunch Democrat, she felt uncomfortable voting for Biden and instead, decided to opt for Libertarian candidate, Jo Jorgensen.
She says: “In the past, I have always voted Democrat and enthusiastically, but this time, I just couldn’t get excited about Biden,” she says. “It felt like it was a toss up between two old guys, especially after they had that first debate. The thing that puts me off him is he’s been a politician for almost 50 years and he’s an established part of the political elite and I don’t really buy that things are going to change that much with him. I really liked Kamala Harris a lot, but feel like we’ve not seen that much of her.
“California pretty much always goes Democrat so I looked up Jo Jorgensen and she seemed really common sense and likeable and I just thought to have a clear conscience, I’ll vote for her. It felt so divisive either way, that I just felt like I needed to vote something else.”
In Scotland, Hudghton, 33, often finds a strong anti-Trump sentiment.
“In my work, people are really interested in the election and I get asked a lot: ‘Do you really know anyone who voted for Trump?’ and the answer is yes - and a lot of them are really good people - that does exist.”
Louise McCoy, a teacher from California living in the Lothians, had the same - but opposite – problem.
“I am fairly conservative, but I didn’t vote for Trump,” she says. “I felt neither Trump nor Biden represented me.”
Instead, McCoy, who came to Scotland to study 14 years ago, opted for the American Solidarity Party.
"They have no chance of winning whatsoever,” she says. “But I feel like if enough people make similar choices, parties like that might have a chance of making an impact.”
Erol Morkoç, 30, who has a post graduate degree in economic history from St Andrews University, was still living in Fife when the pandemic hit and he was forced to return to the US.
“People ask me why I voted for Trump and I say ‘Because I want to be on the right side of history’,” he says. “When people look back at it, especially economic historians, that is what Trump’s legacy will be.”
"Scotland is generally a very liberal and progressive place and there are people who don’t like Trump. But, there are a lot of people who do have respect for him because of his business successes. I think when people actually speak to Trump supporters, they find out that they’re not devil worshipping goblins after all.”
He believes that if Trump loses, he could return in four years time.
"What would be more Trump?” he asks. “He will tweet, he will play some golf and make a tonne of money in business. Then if it looks like there’s an opportunity, he could come back- this time with a female vice president.”
Tourism company owner Aaron Zipp and his wife Sarah, a lecturer at Stirling University, live in Bridge of Allan with their two children.
"One of the major issues for me is creating and sustaining opportunities for women,” says Mr Zipp, from upstate New York. “I have a professional wife and two daughters and I want to vote for a person who will shatter that glass ceiling and improve things for women and the opposite is true for the other candidate.”
Ms Zipp is still hopeful for a Biden win.
She says: "There are still remaining postal votes in Pennsylvania and the analysis I’ve seen seems to suggest they are more likely to be Democratic voters, but the question remains as to whether this is going to be enough and whether this is going to be enough in the right places as the system is so convoluted.
"As ex-pats, we have felt for a long time that it is so hard for people outside of America to understand some of the fundamental aspects of the culture. There is such a sense of fear in everything – in the advertising and the messaging- you’re constantly being told that someone is going to rob your house - and I can’t help feeling that that permeates everything and when I look at that, it’s hard to separate that from how people are feeling and the divisiveness.”
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