It was 8:34 p.m. Tuesday at the Crowne Plaza in Dayton, Ohio, when Don Phillips, Montgomery County Republican Party bigwig and overall rich guy, ambled over to the bar at a GOP watch party. He suddenly looked very pleased with himself. Donald Trump, the candidate who broke every rule in the book, his candidate, appeared to be about to pull off the biggest upset since Dewey vs. Truman. “He’s going to win it,” Phillips said to a Politico reporter. “He’s going to win it. Put it down.” “Why?” the reporter asked.
“I think what’s going to be the difference is the white male that didn’t care about voting and stuff. That’s what’s going to pull him through.”
That, it turned out, was about the size of it. No one, not the pundits, not the pollsters, not Hillary Clinton—and certainly not the Washington establishment that so confidently predicted her victory—knew just how deeply angry white males in America were. How dispossessed they felt. But not just American men: women too, even college-educated ones who went for Trump in surprisingly high numbers despite his well-documented taste for aggressive sexual groping as a privilege of celebrity.
On almost every level—right up to the bizarre early morning ending, with Clinton winning the popular vote while losing the electoral vote and the White House to Trump—the voting on Tuesday exposed how little we really knew ourselves as Americans, and how little the supposed political professionals knew about their jobs. Almost no one in the expert class got the projections right: Hispanics in Florida alarmed by Trump came out in record numbers but not enough to counter the white working class, who were alarmed by four more years of the Clintons; educated, multicultural millennials in North Carolina might power the state’s growing economy but they were overwhelmed by older voters fearful of illegal immigrants; black voters in Philadelphia didn’t love Clinton more than the displaced steelworkers hated the people like her who dealt away their jobs to foreign countries. In the end, Trump gathered a coalition of the angry that added up to more votes than Clinton could pull together by demonizing him as a crazed enemy of the establishment.
And Don Phillips, once the very picture of a Midwestern establishment Republican, knew it. Or a good bit of it.
Last September, Phillips composed a kind of “Dear John” breakup letter to his fellow establishment GOP-er, the highest-ranking elected Republican in the country, then-House Speaker John Boehner whose district bordered Dayton. “No wonder people are so interested in TRUMP,” he angrily wrote. “Everyone is sick of electing politicians that do nothing and continue to go on vacations and work three days a week when the Country is in trouble.”
Phillips had it right. So, apparently, did Trump, a man who, tellingly, had never held elected office but has proven adept at reading public tastes over 30 years of celebrityhood and reality TV. The stunning results reveal a nation as divided and uncertain of its future as it has been at least since the Civil War. One of the greatest divides of all might be between the establishment wings of the two major parties and the electorate they nominally represent. Their complacency—expressed best in the staggeringly low odds of winning Trump was given by pollsters—made the reversal land with a physical shock: Many political and policy types around Washington actually spent the early morning hours of Wednesday sobbing, shaking or throwing up. Clinton supporters who began the evening fairly confident of victory and ended it in a collective fetal tuck.
Among the freaked-out was Amy Lee, a Clinton canvasser in Dayton, who earlier in the day had been planning on going over to a gay bar called Club Masque to celebrate Hillary’s win with some of her fellow Dem operatives.
But when a POLITICO reporter called her up shortly before 10 p.m., she answered the phone in a whisper. She had just finished putting her kids to bed at their house in a historic district of Dayton. “Let me go downstairs,” she said. When she got downstairs, she stopped whispering.
“So,” she said, “this is insane … ” Was she watching on TV?
“I actually turned it off a little bit ago,” she said, “because I’m too tense to watch.” Her husband, Nick Eddy, had just vomited in the bathroom off their kitchen. It was when he saw how close Florida, North Carolina and Michigan were.
“We are really, really, really scared,” she said. “I do think this election is about what America is. Obama treated us like adults. And tonight we are proving that we are not a nation of adults. I just can’t believe it.” She said: “I’m not going to sleep anytime soon.”
Almost no one went to sleep Tuesday night. No one who realized how badly they had misread the temper of the country. No one—especially the establishment types—who could see just how utterly divided the nation was, that the reaction against the status quo was far deeper than they thought. That in fact Trump, for all his personal flaws and foibles, had read more accurately than Clinton the distress of what used to be known as America’s industrial middle class, which had watched helplessly and with growing rage as both political parties sacrificed working-class jobs and futures to a gauzy economic dream called globalization and open borders over the past three decades. That reaction was expressed in the overall vote: Many voters found Trump personally objectionable, even unqualified in any traditional sense; but they also found Clinton an unacceptable continuation of that hateful status quo. In the end, voters on both sides felt forced to vouch for candidates they believed in much less than they despised the alternative.
And that was perhaps the central irony of this election: Turnout was at record levels in many districts—though it was down overall across the nation compared with the past two presidential elections—and yet neither candidate was liked very much. Only one conclusion can be drawn from this: 2016 marked the ultimate “anti” election, a contest in which people were motivated to come to the polls not because they were inspired but because they were full of animus, even hatred, for the other ticket. Exit polls bore the point out, showing that majorities of voters came out of the booth with unfavorable opinions of both candidates. As Clinton herself understated it in her concession speech on Wednesday: “We have seen that our nation is more deeply divided than we thought.”
Just as often the voters were divided against themselves. One such voter was Pat Clements of Chester County, Pennsylvania, who as the voting got underway on Tuesday sat pensively in an office in the small town of Phoenixville—ground zero of the eastern Pennsylvania suburbs. “I’m a Republican,” sighed Clement, a practicing estates lawyer in late middle age with a patient smile. Now, in 2016, she was in charge of the Hillary Clinton Victory Office, a refurbished brick storefront just off Main Street. And all she could do was to mutter about the deplorable state of the party she had abandoned—at least for this cycle.
Chester has long been a deep-red Republican redoubt, voting Democrat only once since 1964: Barack Obama’s victory in 2008. And until 10 days ago, Clements had never volunteered for a campaign. “It wasn’t an easy decision,” said Clements, who had been dialing strangers and knocking on doors for the past week. “It was the eleventh hour, and I couldn’t stand it anymore. It was too stressful not to do something.” It was Trump, Clements said, who summoned her worst fears about the party. It was Trump, especially after the Access Hollywood tape, who turned the college educated Republican women of Chester, like Clements, Democratic.
“The whole white supremacist, nationalistic, anti-Semitic, post-factual type of movement—I cannot support that in any way,” Clements said. She glanced around the room, as if she expected to be seen by someone; she was, after all still a Republican. She leaned in and lowered her voice. “And this talk of rigged elections and watching the polls in Philadelphia?” she whispered. “It’s horrible!”
But in another part of Pennsylvania, the once-booming steel town of Coatesville, Brian Riegegner was among a throng of voters lined up outside an old brick building to vote. Reigegner, 51, has worked in Coatesville’s steel mills since he was 18—and been a Democrat even longer. Until this election. “Yeah, I’m votin’ for Trump,” Reigegner said in a chewy Delaware Valley accent, standing under the shadow of a rusting fire escape. He wore a bomber jacket fraying at the cuffs that limped over his wide, soot-stained hands. “I’ve voted Democrat all my life,” said Reigegner—including, he said, for Obama. “But we need a businessman in the White House.” He looked down at his canvas work pants and spit: “Clinton’s a crook.”
Still, he seemed just short of a truly impassioned Trump voter sending a signal. “I don’t know, man,” said Reigegner. “I believe that he’s goin’ create more jobs. I don’t follow the I-raq and all too much. He says what everybody thinks: Bomb the shit out of ‘em. Know what I mean? He says it like it is.” Health care was his biggest concern: (“Those rates are going up 25 percent! I just take the penalty when it’s all done.”) But Trump had done something lasting: He had turned Reigegner and his friends on to politics.
This tone of negativism was largely the doing of the GOP candidate, who announced his insurgent campaign by setting fire to the make-nice with Hispanics plan crafted by the GOP after its 2012 humiliation. He called Mexicans “rapists” and “criminals” and staked out an anti-immigrant platform that he widened to Syrians and Muslims generally. No matter how much he was derided as a xenophobe and a racist, he never backed down.
Clinton wanted an election that made Americans “stronger together.” But she ran it as a referendum on one man and his temperament. And she banked that Hispanics, open-minded millennials and women eager to see a final glass ceiling shattered would stand up to the delight he seemed to take in giving offense at every turn. But Trump better judged the zeitgeist and it was not a forgiving one. So fired up were Americans to change the status quo—and here too Bernie Sanders’ success should have been a warning to Clinton—that many didn’t even seem to mind they had judged Trump to be unqualified for the presidency (some 61 percent of those polled).
The Election Day of our discontent was a replay of the entire year, a day of scattered dustups and fussing about voter suppression and rigging allegations by Trump—who by midday had reacquired control of his Twitter account and began floating unfounded suggestions of shenanigans in Utah. But the disruptions by vigilante poll watchers the media had fumed over never really materialized either. But the voters did.
The anti-the-other-candidate theme began to emerge in the early morning hours in places like rural Floyd County in southwest Virginia where lanky Orion Birch conducted an informal exit poll at Check Elementary School as deer hunters in camouflage and Republican retirees streamed by. “I have to say, the Democrats are not talking about who they voted for,” Birch said. “Republicans are proud to say it.” It showed up in Metairie, Louisiana, where the McInnis sisters cast ballots that sounded more like anti-Trump than pro-Clinton: “She’s not a racist,” Morgan, 24, said. “She’s not a bigot. She knows what she’s doing.” Emily, 22, was blunter: “She’s the lesser of two evils.” And it showed up in the small brick civic center in Moraine, Ohio, where one of the first to vote at 6:30 a.m. was Brandon Howard, 37, a union electrician that fits the angry blue-collar dispossessed stereotype Trump won over. Except he’s not that guy. He hates Trump.
“We have a reality TV star running for office who’s always looked out for himself,” he said. “I just can’t imagine him going to sleep in the White House at night.” Who did he vote for? “Hillary Clinton.” He called her “well-oiled.”
A 30-year-old white woman dressed in blue scrubs who was hurrying to work and wouldn’t give POLITICO her name but stopped long enough to sigh and describe this election as “piss-poor.” “I think we failed at the primary level,” she said. “We should have had better candidates.” So not Trump? “I wouldn’t do it in a million years,” she said. And not Clinton? “I couldn’t do it.” So she went with a third-party candidate: Gary Johnson. “I know, I know.”
Indeed, one of the biggest stories of Election Day was just how thin support for Clinton really was, especially among Democrats who had avidly support Obama in 2008 and 2012. That was especially the story among many blacks, who had proved a critical firewall for Clinton in the primaries versus Sanders and also came out to vote for her in large numbers in the general.
In Roanoke, a Democratic-leaning city amid a sea of Republican-leaning rural counties in western Virginia, Vice Mayor Anita Price was among the Democrats campaigning at the precinct, along with longtime state Senator John Edwards and 6th District Democratic challenger Kai Degner, who sought to unseat 24-year incumbent U.S. Rep. Bob Goodlatte, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.
“Hillary Clinton can win this thing, as long as people are not deterred from voting,” said Price, who is black like the major of Roanoke, wearing an American flag cap. “Let me put it this way—folks in the African-American community I’ve talked to, they’re enthusiastic but not like they were when President Obama was elected. This is more fear—and I mean fear—that Trump could be elected. It’s an absolutely scary thought, and I hear that from everyone both black and white.”
Philadelphia was supposed to be the place where black voters would hold Trump accountable for his gross generalizations about urban misery. It was in Philadelphia, the city where 59 precincts recorded zero votes fro Mitt Romney in 2012, where a wave of Democratic votes was supposed to overcome the unrest of rural whites in the vast center of the state. But the depth of the enthusiasm for Clinton didn’t approach the levels that Obama claimed in 2008 and 2012.
In a precinct of North Philadelphia on Election Day afternoon, Jesse Jackson put his hand on fellow Reverend Alyn Waller’s shoulder and whispered in his right ear. Waller listened for a long time to the civil rights icon and one-time presidential candidate, nodding. “Exactly,” he said. Later, riding toward West Philly to check on his fellow election advocates, Waller revealed what Jackson whispered to him.
“What he literally said is, ‘Even if we defeat Trump, we’re still going to be in a world of shit,’” Waller related. Beneath their support for Clinton, he says, many African-Americans are skeptical of her. But they were too scared not to come out.
“Most of us would argue there’s no good choice, there’s just a better choice,” Waller said. “I can’t speak messianically about Hillary.” He held Bill Clinton’s 1994 crime bill partially responsible for mass incarceration, and he’s troubled by the “superpredators” language Hillary Clinton used to support it. “Even if she wins tonight, tomorrow morning we’ve got to get up and have an agenda she can’t ignore.”
But by late Tuesday night, in the auditorium of Enon Tabernacle, Waller’s church and the largest black congregation in Philadelphia, there was little talk of Clinton winning. The dance party celebration never really got going and Waller retired to his office to contemplate a very different outcome and what it would mean for his congregants.
If Trump wins, he said, he knows many in his African-American congregation will be dismayed and disillusioned.
“I will remind them this is not the first time we’ll have a president who doesn’t have our best interest in mind,” he said. “We lived through Daddy Bush and son Bush.” He says he’ll remind them that the country is resilient, that thanks to checks and balances, the rest of the government can stop a president’s bad ideas. Look at Obama, “a man with great ideas,” he said, and how Republicans blocked much of his agenda.
“I believe the American form of government is such that the whims of a president that don’t make sense can’t be implemented,” he said. “We can live through an idiot.”
Black people weren’t the only voters suffering an enthusiasm gap. For many white Democrats who wanted change—a lot of it—Clinton just didn’t promise enough. In Speedway, Indiana, in the shadow of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Frank Staples was manning the doorway of American Legion Post 500, a polling place on the west side of Indianapolis, and talking about the good old days of the Sanders campaign.
Staples, a 37-year-old factory worker, was just the sort of voter that both Sanders and Trump wooed. Staples was a group leader at the drab and dour confines of Carrier, the United Technologies company that became an unexpected totem of the 2016 presidential race. It was good to get out of the sad place. Back in February, executives here announced that its Indianapolis headquarters, along with 1,400 high-paying manufacturing jobs, would be moving to a manufacturing plant in Monterrey, Mexico. Staples, a “vampire” who worked the nightshift, learned the news when his mother saw the now-viral video announcement on Facebook and called him at 1 p.m., waking him up.
In recent months, Staples and his fellow workers had grown at first tired, and then frustrated, with Trump, the candidate who had made them one of his favorite talking points at his megarallies, promising to never again buy a Carrier air conditioner as retribution. We don’t even make air conditioners, went the joke among Staples and his co-workers as they passed time on the assembly line. We make heaters. They, better than anyone, knew when they were on the other side of something spewing hot air. And so led by their union, they backed Sanders ahead of the primary, before switching to Clinton after the nomination battle. Staples had spent the weeks leading up to Indiana’s May primary talking up Sanders’ candidacy to everyone he knew. Here was a guy, he’d tell them, who supported the working man even in nonelection years. When Sanders didn’t win the state’s primary, and his union threw its support to Clinton, Staples was saddened.
“I’d rather have Hillary than Trump,” said Staples, a father of three. “It’s the lesser of two evils. Trump’s a loudmouthed bigot.” But he wasn’t enthusiastic, which is why he ended up voting for Sanders on Tuesday.
“We need more people looking out for the American dream,” Staples said, sounding a lot like the Trump voter he wasn’t. “That’s how this country was built: It was built on labor. It was built on manufacturing. It’s all disappeared.”
In Terre Haute, Indiana, 73-year-old Bertha Pearman knew that her late husband, Jim, felt that way. Vigo County, of which Terre Haute is the seat, has been nation’s most accurate bellwether county—mirroring the national result perfectly since 1952. Pearman was not happy to learn of that statistic. “That’s scary as hell,” Pearman said, “Because they say Vigo County is for Trump.”
Pearman’s vote for Clinton was an act of independence a long time coming. Her husband had voted in every election, but he refused to discuss politics at length with his wife of 27 years. She had opinions, but she never quite felt like they counted. “We didn’t understand politics,” she said. “We were too busy trying to keep the three kids in school, and have work and have food.” Sometimes, when Jim was still around, they discussed the 2016 contest. “When we discussed this, I could get pissed,” she said of the 2016 contest, resting her head on one of her newly placed Christmas decorations: a red and white pillow that read Holidays: Bringing out the best in family dysfunction. “He wouldn’t tell me, but he always voted for the underdog. I said, ‘I know exactly who you’re going to vote for. You’re going to vote for Trump.’”
Early last month, though, Jim died of aneurysm. Around the same time, Pearman saw video of Trump making more derogatory comments against women. And so she was going to be damned if she didn’t cast a vote for Clinton. “I always said I wanted to live long enough to see the first woman president,” she said. She cast a ballot just days after early voting began.
The wait to see if her first vote in a presidential election would matter made her antsy. When Indiana’s polls closed at 6 p.m., she said, “I want to know some results or something,” she said. “Hell, this could go on forever.”
Nearly an hour later, Pearman was watching B-roll of people gathering around Susan B. Anthony’s grave in New York—the person who made Pearman’s first vote a couple of weeks ago possible. “I’ll be damned,” Pearman said, taking in the moment. “So many people don’t want her to be president because she’s a woman. But the way I look at it, they have mothers and sisters, too.”
Then, at 7:01 p.m, CBS’ Scott Pelley announced that Trump had won Indiana.
“That’s a bitch,” Pearman said.
Almost no one, least of all the pollsters, attached any accurate weight to the various voter groups that mattered, especially the riled-up rural white population that ended up outvoting Hispanics in Florida, millennials in North Carolina and liberal educated elites everywhere.
Ricardo Negron-Almodovar, a gay Puerto Rican who moved to Florida in 2015, put his law degree to use in the political realm after he survived the Pulse nightclub shooting in June. He worked to register other LGBT Hispanics in the Orlando area and was eager to cast his first vote for Clinton. Unlike Trump, who was backed by the National Rifle Association, Clinton had made gun control a plank of her platform, and she campaigned on her record of work for the LGBT community. Hispanic voters, like the ones Negron-Almodovar helped register, were predicted to deliver Florida to the former secretary of state. But while she beat Trump 67-31 with that group, it was much a tighter margin than in any other state, and a factor in her loss.
The victory party Negron-Almodovar attended became something less. While happy that some local candidates he supported won their races, Clinton’s loss cast a pall over the bar. He looked around the room and said, “We are a little bit disappointed especially after all that hard work to get the vote out. But it’s democracy,” he said. Still, “this party is no longer a party.”
No group will bear the burden of a divided America more than the young, millennial voters who found themselves so torn over Clinton after the excitement of the Sanders insurgency and, in the end, may have lagged in their turnout at the polls.
In Charlotte, North Carolina, Jeff Jackson is sometimes known as the future of the Democratic Party. Jackson, a state senator and the 34-year-old father of two boys, has quickly become a favorite young politician in this Southern city. He regularly creates posts that go viral on social media, makes appearances at young networking events, and planned a victory party Tuesday at a bar with the slogan, “Pool. Pong. Party.” Jackson is in many ways the counterpoint to the recent state political climate in North Carolina. By the time he took office in 2014, North Carolina’s Republican Party was deep into its overhaul, redrawing districts in such a way that a district court panel would later deem unconstitutional, passing a voter ID and voting restrictions law that a federal appeals court later said targeted African-Americans with “surgical precision.” That was all before the controversial House Bill 2 measure this spring banned transgender people from using the bathrooms of their choice and led to millions of dollars of lost revenue for North Carolina after companies and sporting events pulled out of the state.
In places like Charlotte—an overwhelmingly Democratic city that’s seen an 11-percent increase in people between the ages of 20-35 since 2000, a city in which thousands of studio and one-bedroom apartments pop up along new lines of public transportation every year—people began to look at the Legislature as a place with unrecognizable faces and ideas.
Jackson used his platform to blast the HB2 law and the speed with which it was passed. After the NBA All-Star Game pulled out of Charlotte in July, Jackson tweeted a picture of a “Crying Jordan” hugging Republican Governor Pat McCrory (who by Wednesday morning looked close to losing a very close race to his Democratic opponent Roy Cooper).
Early in the evening Tuesday, Jackson still felt optimistic about the political future of his generation: “We’re about to make obsolete a whole category of politicians. The Ted Cruzes of the world have an expiration date on them. My generation is simply going to suck all the oxygen out of the room for politicians who are incapable of authenticity.” He even thought Clinton would be declared the winner by 9 p.m. That didn’t happen, of course,
By 9:30, at Slate, a popular bar along Charlotte’s busy light-rail line, a crowd of prominent Democratic politicians in the Charlotte region clasped their hands nervously while watching the televisions unload news that Trump was leading in several unexpected states—North Carolina being one of them.
Jackson was leading comfortably in his own race with nearly 70 percent of the vote at about 9:30 p.m. But he couldn’t believe what he was seeing at the top of the ticket.
“It’s impossible,” said Jackson, who started the day under a bright sunrise talking about all he might be able to do if the state shifts just a little blue. “[Trump] cannot win. He can’t. I just have total faith in the American people that they’re not going to let this happen.”
At 11:08, the televisions at the bar called North Carolina for Trump. The bar went silent. And Jackson crossed his arms and walked out into the Charlotte night.
At Hillary Clinton’s alma mater, Wellesley College in Massachusetts, so many alumnae—some 3,000—asked to attend a watch-party that the event was relocated to the sports field house. Another 500 students packed a viewing party in Tishman Commons, dressed in Wellesley apparel and signature pantsuits. They wore buttons that said “Don’t boo, vote!” and “Another Wellesley Woman for Hillary.”
In both arenas, students and alumnae reacted minute by minute as results rolled in. At 8:15, when the television screen showed a tie between Clinton and Trump in Virginia, screams filled the room. When Trump was called the winner of Texas, the room let out a collective groan. As Trump took Ohio, the mood grew tense and students pulled out phones and laptops to check online vote trackers. Clinton’s win in Virginia temporarily raised spirits as the room erupted in cheers. As the results from Florida and Michigan rolled in, however, the atmosphere became increasingly ambivalent.
“I really don’t know what to expect at this point. I had no idea that Trump would perform so well in the states that Hillary really needed,” remarked Ogochukwu Okoye, a senior. “Until now, I have never seriously considered the possibility of Trump winning the election.”
Back in Chester County, Pennsylvania, a far giddier mood prevailed among the Republicans who gathered at the Downington Country Club, a gaudy faux-colonial house with a putting green out front. Inside the horseshoe pavilion, the night’s planned event—a dirge—had instead transformed into a bacchanal of burly white men, gathered in a delirious fugue of back-slapping, screaming and U-S-A chants. “If he fucking pulls this off, it will be one for the history books,” said a red-faced man walking by in a white Trump-Pence hat.
North Carolina had just been called, and news was trickling in. A restless huddle of fraternity boys had taken over one corner. “I had no idea it was going to be this close,” said a bearded Zack Stamsel, a student at West Chester University. He was interrupted: Wisconsin flashed on the screen—Trump—and the hall erupted. “Like that,” he said, shaking his head in disbelief.
Bumping up against the bar was a fit young man in a tight-cropped haircut, red in the face from screaming; he gave his name only as “Michael.” He pointed to the monitor, a cutaway of Clinton supporters crying. “Look how sad they are! Lenin’s useful idiots!” He screamed, he jumped, he pointed. “What’s next? That motherfucking wall’s going up! That’s what’s next!” In a side room, Republican County staff gathered in stunned silence; at the head sat Val DiGiorgio, the young Republican County chair. “I’m not shocked, I’m not shocked,” DiGiorgio said, obviously shocked. His team was debating whether a win in Pennsylvania, which Clinton had once led by 12 points, was possible. “Yes,” he said without hesitation, glancing at his watch. “I think we’ll know tonight.”
Out at the bar, news spread of the stock markets tumbling. The country club crowd found themselves in a momentary dilemma. “Geez, I feel bad for my dad. He’s a financial adviser,” said one young man in a pink Polo. He couldn’t finish his next sentence. A woman strutted by, gin and tonic in hand. “The uprising! WOOOO!”
Among the happiest people in the country on Wednesday, no doubt, were Don Phillips, the 81-year-old Ohioan, and his wife, Cay, who works the front desk downstairs at Mandalay, his giant windowless catering hall on I-75, between the industrial park and the for-profit college. He has voted Republican in every presidential election since 1964.
The couple felt hopeful about the new America over which Trump would soon preside, and they were eager to share their vision with anyone who would listen. They started telling POLITICO, for no particular reason, about the family atmosphere among their employees at the Mandalay. Lots of their workers stay for a very long time. Don Phillips mentioned two dishwashers who have been here now for 24 years. Twin sisters.
“They’re minority,” he said. Black. “Very nice, though.”
His wife mentioned a chef on staff. “I always say he’s a warm brown color,” she said. “He’s not really black.”
Then she brought up something called “black people time.”
“If a thing starts at 8 o’clock, they come at 9,” she said. “It’s true. “They call it BPT. Black people time.”
She added, “We have to sometimes say to our black people, ‘Get here on time,’” and she tapped forcefully on the armrest of a chair to emphasize her point.
“They come whenever they want,” he said.
“They laugh about it,” she said. “Of course, we laugh about it, too.”
She assured me: “We have a very good relationship with our black people here.”
With reporting from Michael Graff in North Carolina, Adam Wren in Indiana, Erick Trickey in Philadelphia, Michael Luongo, Tyler Bridges in Louisiana, Mason Adams in Virginia and Michelle Lee and Mary Meisenzahl at Wellesley College.
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