At 1:31 AM on November 9th, 2016, the impossible became possible, and the possible became reality when the Associated Press declared on the basis of projected results Donald J. Trump as the winner of the election for 45th President of the United States of America. The stunned establishment media, pundits, professional pollsters and bicoastal elites that had assumed their version of history was irresistible and unstoppable, were speechless. Trump, derided throughout the election process as a misogynist nincompoop with a cult following of racists, deniers and loony birds, faced the universal prediction of a comfortable win for the establishment candidate Clinton, that despite all her faults, clearly would dominate the incompetent Trump when the American people entered the voting booth and faced the two alternative futures.
The American people entered the voting booth, faced the two alternative futures, chose Trump and never looked back.
I have taken several days to digest what just happened, and face up to my own journey regarding this election. For a conservative like myself, I have dreamt of the magical moment when I could wake up the day after the election and contemplate the following conservative American electoral revolution. A Republican House. A Republican Senate. 33 of 50 states run by Republican Governors. 31 of 50 state legislatures are fully controlled by Republicans. And… The President of the United States is the Republican candidate……Donald Trump. Wait….Donald Trump?!?
The last part, as unexpected as the extent of the revolution, was of course the part I had struggled to contemplate for months. I looked initially to Rick Perry of Texas. Then Marco Rubio of Florida. When it came down to two, Ted Cruz. Anything to protect the principles of classical conservatism I had spent my adult life educating myself upon and looking for candidates who saw the answers to the world’s problems as I did. Limited, effective government. Personal freedom. Protection of happiness and opportunity for all. There was no place in my universe for emotional populism and nativist appeals. Trump was the poster child for just such appeals. He threatened to build a wall between America and Mexico against all reality. He threatened to throw out all undocumented immigrants, than let them back in. He threatened to throw out all trade treaties, install nineteenth century tariffs. He stated President Bush’s mistake was not only going into Iraq, but not confiscating their oil. He recommended the withdrawal of the United States from NATO, the allowance of Russia to absorb sovereign Ukraine. A supporter of Democrats all his life, he promoted “infrastructure spending” on a massive scale, and declared sacred all entitlements against any attempt at reform. On a personal level, he attacked everything that moved against him. Bush was “low energy”. Fiorina was “ugly” Rubio was “little”. Cruz was “Lyin’ Ted”. And in the end game, “Crooked Hillary”. He egged on many of the darker elements of American society to see immigrants as “other” and stood back as lewdness and crudeness poured out of such dead-enders onto the other candidates through social media.
Not exactly a dream candidate. It is however critical to recognize that it is likely no other candidate other than Donald J Trump could have brought about the November 8, 2016 revolution. Try as I might, I can not imagine any of the other Republican hopefuls standing up so courageously under the withering barrage of the establishment media that had crushed so many others, and giving it back more than he got, to spectacular effect. I can see no other candidate focusing like a laser beam on the flaws of Clinton as a candidate, and not giving an inch, until the entire world saw her for what she was. I can’t conceive of any other candidate ignoring political operatives and managers who relied on mechanized,sterile get out the vote campaigns, trusting instead the motivation and enthusiasm of the masses he saw so clearly in ever larger mass rallies, held in the outback of America the establishment had ignored for years. In retrospect, Donald Trump was THE unique force of nature to pull off one of the greatest upsets in American electoral history.
There were obviously other realities in the perfect storm that produced a President Trump and the republican wave election. His opponent, Hillary Clinton and the Democrat Party, were the perfect foils, and profound contributors, to just such an outcome.
The revenge of the “Deplorables”:
In mid-September, the normally careful Clinton made the gaffe of the election when she stated, “half of Trump’s supporters belong in a basket of deplorables.” Her insulated audience laughed and applauded. Of course they did. Democrats had for decades derided massive quantities of Americans as “fly over country”, “rubes”, and to quote the current President, “bitter clingers”. When these rubes defended their liberty to see marriage or abortion as a religious philosophy, they were harried. When they stood up for the Second Amendment, they were castigated as accepting mass murder. If they defended family values or showed concern regarding the societal fractures and flaunting of government preferential treatment to non-citizens over citizens, they were denounced as racists. If they complained that they were concerned about government delivered health insurance, they were told to pass it to see what’s in it – the designers of Obamacare stated the insurance was passed in such a way “to fool the stupid people.” The result were massive premiums, huge deductibles, and loss of insurance for hundreds of thousands of the “stupid people”. This massive swath of the American electorate decided to form the famous coalition that President Nixon so famously called the “Silent Majority”, and crush Clinton in the “fly over” vote.
The Disappearance of the Vote Machine:
Hillary Clinton developed a massive war chest and huge ground operation to do what President Obama had managed to do in the previous two elections, turn on the Democrat vote machine. Sickly, and lacking the personal stamina to physically drive enthusiasm, she relied on traditional voting turnout processes that would replicate the overwhelming numbers in the patchwork coalition Obama had built: urban votes driven by democrat political machines and unions, female and minority votes driven by perceived grievance and fear of exclusion from a place at the decision table, and young idealistic voters pushing societal redesign. Her lack of personal charisma drove a dramatic imbalance between the negative of voting to prevent an outcome and the positive of a projecting a better world. The result? Although it appears Trump will equal Romney’s 2016 popular vote, Hillary Clinton will fall nearly 7 million votes behind Obama’s 2008 voting turnout. Having been provided nothing by Hillary Clinton to vote for, they just stayed home.
It’s The Corruption, Stupid:
In 1992, the male Clinton candidate for President, Bill, famously recognized the underlying gorilla in the room, the anemic economy, as the insurmountable reality the first President Bush would not be able to overcome. The Clinton war room made sure they never overlooked this fact, pasting the sign “It’s the Economy, Stupid” on the wall. In 2016, failed female candidate Clinton after the election pathetically blamed her loss on FBI Director Comey’s letter two weeks before the election announcing the reopening of the Clinton email investigation due to new findings. Clinton felt the re-opening of the investigation lost her the election. It wasn’t the letter. It was the Corruption Itself, Stupid. Clinton’s brutal abuse of the law regarding the maintenance of a private server for government business, exposed high level security information to foreign government hacking, in order to cover up the even larger scandal of ‘pay for play’ of the Clinton Foundation selling US government influence for millions and millions of dollars of personal Clinton profit. This was cynically followed by the willful State and Justice Departments’ coverup of destroyed documents, producing nonsensical immunity agreements to keep the most culpable quiet, highlighting the fundamental corruption of having one standard for regular americans, another standard for the elite, rife throughout American government. The voting American had seen it again and again. Sanctuary cities. The marauding IRS targeting conservative Americans. The environmental nazis flying private jets burning massive quantities of oil, to devise treaties to lambast normal americans heating their houses or driving their cars with oil. A Culture of Corruption so vast, that Clinton merely was the pathetic, greedy poster child. It was the Corruption Stupid, and the chant that took over the last days of the election was – “Drain the Swamp.”
Americans are Patriots:
It may be that the average American can not recite the document that contains the fundamental differentiator of American identity, “Life,Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness”, but they feel it in their gut. For too long, the meme had been America is evil, America has abused others, America is in inevitable decline. The Democrat Party had progressively positioned itself as the defender of personal emotions, over societal success. Americans recognize the uniqueness of the American experiment, and want to pass on the hopes and opportunities to their children and grandchildren. They wanted someone who could articulate this, hoping first it was President Obama with “Hope and Change”, but soon recognized this was predicated upon giving up the American Dream of a life well lived. This sense of American patriotism wasn’t building empires or rigging the system to the “victim” of the moment, it was a positive belief that being American focused most on hard work and fair play winning the day. Hillary Clinton promised more of the same sagging of the American spirit. More victimhood, more collosal government oversight and hegemony. Like the Brexiters in Britain, the voters in America were not yet willing to undergo an enforced setting of the sun without a fight.
On November 8th, I went into the booth for the first time in my life truly questioning what I would do. In the isolation of the voting booth, I thought about all the things I previously believed were important in a President. Deft understanding of foreign affairs to avoid mistakes in a dangerous world. Respect for the American Constitution and what it uniquely protects for every individual in the nation. A life time of respect for the rule of law and equal justice for all. A clear understanding of fair play and respect for people of differing views. A life of public service to understand the complicated world of compromise and values.
I thought about the country and the path it was on. I thought about how I have defended the ramparts of civilization as the means to a better world. I thought about who was willing to go to the mat for the country and its people.
In the end, I did my job as a citizen, and pulled the lever. The lever for Donald J. Trump. I don’t know if he can help make America great again, but I at least know he has not already decided America should never again be great. I may regret selecting the neophyte over the known quantity, but like 62 million of Americans, I decided I’m willing to risk seeing if he can learn on the job.
The election is over and the hard work now begins.
As a curious postnote, it turns out that the most clairvoyant political pundit, the person who saw America more clearly than any Washington DC pundit, was someone as unexpected as the candidate Trump who pulled off the electoral miracle.
That’s right, Kurt Cobain of Nirvana. Who knew?