The defeated party: Knoxville Democrat hopes for youth, resilience after Trump’s victory

“Well, we’re looking at a race that should have never really been this close.”
Linda Haney showcases her disappointment through her body language outside the Southern Depot in Knoxville, Tennessee on November 8, 2016. The vice chair of the Knox County Democratic Party watched the election results come in with other members of the party.

Election Day

“Well, we’re looking at a race that should have never really been this close,” Linda Haney said as she watched the chances of Hillary Clinton’s win slip away at the Knox County Democrats’ results viewing party on Election Day.

As vice chair of the Knox County Democratic Party, Haney was dedicated to the 2016 Presidential election months before Nov. 8.

“I’ve been involved with the campaign for the whole year just trying to help candidates, raising money for the party… it’s really just been kind of a nonstop thing,” Haney said.

On Election Day, she was up at 7 a.m. putting up Hillary signs and preparing for what she thought would be a successful outcome.

“Everybody here was engaged in making phone calls to get the vote out today. We are going over to get ready for the celebration tonight,” Haney said.

At that time of Election Day, Haney’s confidence was backed by several outlets of news media. Nate Silver’s had projected a 70.9 percent likelihood of a Clinton victory. The New York Times predicted an even higher 85 percent chance.

This projection for shows Clinton with a 70.9 percent chance of presidential victory at the start of November 8, 2016. To the suprise of many in news media, it was inaccurate.

At 8 p.m. when results started coming in, they told a different story. Haney watched the results at the Knox County Democrats’ election party, where she had not lost hope.

“We’ll see. I still think she can — will get it — but maybe by only a couple points, where a couple weeks ago she was double digits,” Haney said in reaction to the growing number of red states, “No matter if it’s one or two points if she wins, she wins, and we can cope and build from there.”

By the early morning hours of Nov. 9, Donald Trump had secured 279 Electoral College votes — nine more than the necessary 270 to win. He was named the President Elect of the United States.

“You can just hope for the best and hope that things won’t be that bad.”

The Reaction

Haney was “stunned, shocked and depressed” about the outcome of what many projected to be such a clear Clinton victory.

Haney speaks at the Knox County Democratic Party headquarters ahead of the election results on November 8, 2016. She expressed concern about the Republican candidate, Donald Trump.

For the lifelong Democrat, now 70, politics have been a part of her life for as long as she can remember. She has been involved with the Knox County Democratic party for more than 15 years and stepped down as chair of the organization just two years ago.

Even with those years of political experience, Haney admitted that she was unsure how to move forward.

Knoxville Democrats and anti-Trump protestors chose to take action. They organized in two downtown protests and a student protest at UT.

Haney and her husband joined the Nov. 10 protest in Crutch Park. Haney said she was excited to see young democrats using their First Amendment rights at the event.

“They’re just voicing their opinions, and I’ve done that all my life,” said Haney, “I hope they all keep doing this.”

She addressed some of her concerns about the next four years at the protest.

“I am worried about the Supreme Court… Roe v Wade. I am worried about voting rights,” Haney said.

Haney also expressed concern about the demographics of Trump voters.

“I am very upset that 53% Caucasian women voted for Donald Trump. I’m still trying to figure out that one,” Haney said.

This vote analysis states that 53 percent of white women voted for Donald Trump leading to his election on November 9, 2016. Linda Haney, Vice Chair of the Knoxville Democratic Party, was extremely disappointed by these figures.

Though the former labor worker supported the protests, she believed that nationally and locally, Democrats would need to take other steps to move forward.

“Nationally they are looking for new leadership, and they will come together and decide how they are going to go forward and work harder for the 2018 midterm elections,” Haney explained.

Locally, elections for new Democratic Party officers in March will give Haney the chance to step back and let newcomers take over.

“The idea is for the younger people to really take the lead in the party, and that’s what we’re looking forward to, is that they will take the lead and have a younger face to the party,” Haney said.

A younger face to the party: Feroza Freeland, far right, hands out Election Day promotional material to voters. The President of the College Democrats was joined by other members of the College Democrats on Pedestrian Walkway at the University of Tennessee on November 8, 2016.

Haney’s life post election, now that there is less to do, is what she described as “trying.”

“I’m extremely down about it, and that’s because im older and I’ve had to live through seeing this happen before. I’m trying not to pass that on to the younger voters,” Haney said.

She hopes that the youth within her party will show resilience.

“You can just hope for the best and hope that things won’t be that bad. The way I see it now it’s really not a very bright future for a lot of us…I’m sure there will be many people who step forward and look beyond that,” Haney concluded.

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