Columbus Democrats shell-shocked after presidential election

Columbus Democrats still were stunned Wednesday as they faced life with Donald Trump as the next president of the United States.

John Van Doorn, a professor who teaches international relations at Troy University, watched election results roll in with about 50 people on Tuesday night at the Democratic headquarters on Macon Road.

Van Doorn, a former chair of the local party, said the race looked promising when he left the building at 8 p.m. However, the night took a devastating turn, leaving everyone speechless.

“I think I’m probably like most Democrats, I’m pretty shell-shocked,” he said. “Even though I teach political science professionally, we all thought the numbers were clear that Hillary was going to win. And so when we lost, it was a double-shock for me that we had gotten it wrong as political scientists, and it hit me in the gut as a Democrat that a really qualified person was not going to be president and perhaps our worst nightmare was going to become president.”

Van Doorn said he’s deeply concerned about Trump’s comments about women, minorities, people with disabilities, people who depend on affordable health care and people who depend on clean air and water.

“I’m also teaching international relations,” he said. “And I’m extremely concerned with his past statements and the damage it’s already done, and what likely damage we might expect in the future if he continues those very unguarded intemperate comments.”

Van Doorn said national pollsters didn’t sample enough people voting for Trump, and those that were sampled most likely gave “socially desirable or socially correct responses.”

“A lot of people were really ashamed to admit that they were going to vote for Trump,” he said. “But once they got in the privacy of the voting booth, they did so.”

James Washington, first vice-chair of the Muscogee County Democratic Party, described the mood as somber once it became clear Hillary Clinton would lose the historic election.

“It’s disappointment, because everybody was rooting for Hillary,” he said. “But the system is the system, and we just have to work within the system.”

Alva James-Johnson: 706-571-8521, @amjreporter