The view from Europe is … surprising.
You’ll never forget the moment you first realized Donald Trump was going to be president of the United States.
I was slumped in a red Budweiser beanbag chair at an American-themed bar in the heart of downtown Lisbon, Portugal, a half-finished beer in hand, surrounded by half-finished beers from those who had already given up and left the bar.
A bucket of unopened Budweisers sat unattended on the floor to my right, as waitresses sporting Stephen Curry and Cal Ripken Jr. jerseys slowly started to clean up the mess.
By 2:30 in the morning — 9:30 pm for my friends back in New York — the bar was clearing out. Just an hour earlier, The George had been standing room only, stuffed to the brim with attendees from the annual Web Summit conference, many of whom were still wearing their conference name tags.
Found an American bar in Lisbon called “The George” to watch election results. The waitress is wearing a Cal Ripken jersey, which is cool. http://pic.twitter.com/239i3W2bJd
— Kurt Wagner (@KurtWagner8) November 9, 2016
For the first hour at the bar, cheers rose up from the crowd each time a CNN update showed a small, but surely guaranteed lead for Hillary Clinton in important states like Florida and North Carolina.
Not anymore. Now Trump had taken leads in every key state remaining — Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, Michigan.
All that was left was the confirmation, which wouldn’t come for hours but still kept me up past 6 am the next day, writing this story because sleep was suddenly out of the picture.
The tech community — including most of those abroad like me at Web Summit — had all but anointed Hillary Clinton president. And I believed them.
The conversation at the dinner I attended earlier that night, a small gathering of Silicon Valley VCs and entrepreneurs, was not at all about who would win. It was about how early the election would be called for Hillary. (My prediction: 2 am local time, 30 minutes before I sat stunned trying to comprehend how the unthinkable had happened.)
Not a single person I spoke with over the past 48 hours seemed to believe the outcome we were staring at was possible.
But Trump sent the bar home early and threw Twitter into a state of saddened disbelief. More than 3,000 miles away, I refreshed Twitter over and over in search of an explanation.
From Facebook’s early comms boss Brandee Barker:
Dear World, we are assholes. Sincerely, America
— Brandee Barker (@brandee) November 9, 2016
And Button co-founder Mike Dudas:
There is no way to make light of this. Tonight’s voting results are the biggest disaster since America became a Republic.
— Mike Dudas (@mdudas) November 9, 2016
Added tech entrepreneur Danny Trinh:
Remember: he said he’d jail her if he wins.
— Danny Trinh (@dtrinh) November 9, 2016
As I rode in an Uber back from the bar, the clock now past 3 am, I asked my driver if he was following the election.
“Trump is going to win,” I said. “Trump president?” he asked through broken English. Then he pumped his fist in excitement.
You’ll never forget the moment you first realized Donald Trump was going to be president. Even if you’d like to.