The campaign that led to the election of Republican Donald Trump as the nation’s 45th president was long, divisive and acrimonious, leaving many of those who opposed him fearful and disturbed.
But Long Islanders who supported the losing candidate, Democrat Hillary Clinton, said that despite their trepidation and uncertainty they would hope for the success of the president-elect — and a less divided electorate.
“I’m an endless optimist,” said Mark Washburn, 63, a Vietnam veteran and disabled union electrician from Levittown. “Everyone will come together. There was a vote, there was no scandal.”
His son Christopher, 33, a student at Farmingdale State College, added: “Give it a few weeks. As long as nothing crazy happens, people will be fine.”
The day saw President Barack Obama and Clinton call for acceptance of the election results — a ritual of a democracy that relies on the peaceful transfer of power. Trump gave what many saw as a conciliatory victory speech, announcing that he’d be a “president for all Americans.”
Many who opposed Donald Trump were expressing shock and fear Wednesday over his election, including thousands who took to the streets to protest across the country.
Unifying a polarized nation will be difficult “because it was such a nasty campaign,” said Rick Howe, 52, a taxi driver who lives in Hicksville. “It’ll be up to him to come across as a person who can bring people together.”
He viewed Trump’s victory speech as a first step.
“He did sound different than he has,” he said, noting Trump’s praise for Clinton’s service to her country. “I didn’t expect to hear that, so that’s a start which he has to continue.”
He hopes Trump can move toward the middle “because you have to believe in hope,” he said. “Hope’s a good thing.”
Hope was also on the mind of Georgina Binder, 71, of Melville, who said that despite her disappointment over not electing the first woman president in her lifetime, she is hoping that somehow Trump “becomes a statesmanlike president and surrounds himself with good advisers.”
“I was emailing all my friends today that I hope he comes through for all of us,” she said. “I don’t want to see the continuation of the division in Congress.”
Judi Rosenthal, a retired teacher from Old Bethpage, agreed with that: “Forget about Democrats, Republicans or Independents, they all need to come together,” she said.
Trump supporters on Long Island believe that if Trump’s policies benefit the economy, emotions should settle down.
John Giliberti, 41, a marble and stone contractor from Massapequa, said the middle class needs a boost and he believes Trump is best able to achieve that goal. “We do work for the rich, and they are the only ones spending money in my business,” he said.
Despite the campaign rhetoric about walls and deportation, he said he personally favors a path to legal status for undocumented immigrants. If immigrants and other minorities are frightened by the prospect of a Trump presidency, he said: “I’d want to hear how they feel. Trump has to hear their thoughts.”
Here’s what Elvira Martinez, 50, of Farmingville, thinks: “We’re worried. We’re in mourning right now, and it’s going to take a while. I don’t know what he can do to make us feel better.”
The Ecuadorean-born account manager for a costume company said she wishes he’d spoken all along in the tone of his victory speech.
“People would have felt better about the direction we’re taking right now. His supporters were drawn to him for the things he said, and that’s the part that is scary to me,” she said.
Yet Amol, a consultant who arrived from India on a work visa three years ago and would only give his first name, said anxiety in his community lessened after the election, despite the shock of Trump’s unexpected victory. “The mood on the street doesn’t seem different, and the people are acting the same as they did yesterday,” he said.
The need for conciliation works both ways, according to a 58-year-old retired NYPD officer from Farmingdale, a Trump voter who gave his name as Raymond.
He said when his nephew announced on social media that he’d voted for Trump, he was called a racist and misogynist “and he’s the nicest kid in the world.”
Many of the students at Farmingdale State College were “pretty bummed out” by Trump’s victory, said student Patryk Muczynski, 21, of Lindenhurst.
He has his own fears about a Trump administration, but, he said: “I do have an open mind. It’s not the end of the world.”