To the surprise of most of us, Republican Donald Trump won the Electoral College vote. Some of us were depressed, Cher wanted to leave the world, others just pouted. My own response was short term disbelief followed by a burning desire to repeat the welcome/threats made by the Republican leadership following President Obama’s election.
Mitch McConnell: “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.” John Boehner on the then-new President’s agenda: “We’re going to do everything – and I mean everything we can do – to kill it, stop it, slow it down, whatever we can.” But putting emotions aside I reasoned such action would be irresponsible and irrational.
How did such controversial, flawed, even disliked, individuals come together as their respective party’s candidate for president ?
To begin with Donald Trump had the advantage of name recognition. He hosted a very popular national TV program from 2004 until 2015. When he declared his candidacy he was a familiar face to most Americans.
Secondly, he had money, lots of it. That in itself is a powerful draw. Irrespective of station, a large swath of Americans revere wealth, regardless of how it was obtained.
As the billionaire class expands so does the gap between the have’s and have not’s. Corporations report record earnings, CEO’s have multi-million dollar contracts. Complicated tax laws enable their high paid lawyers to take advantage of a multitude of loop-holes that can reduce their tax burden to zero. Their profits go to salaries and shareholders. [ The much touted “trickle down theory” in America is no longer relevant. The need for a thriving middle-class is no longer needed. Cheap labor abroad and a world-wide demand for American goods have given rise to a new reality.
Support for Trump came in unexpected places, such as the lower and middle class being squeezed by a system that favors corporations and billionaires. Yet who did they turn to for change? Ironically the population that has lost the most in this new world order voted for Donald Trump.
The number of minorities and women who voted for Mr. Trump is no less puzzling. Despite his fiery rhetoric, they supported him.
All that said, he played by the rules and he won. He entered every primary race and worked tirelessly to win them. He faced off against 17 competitors, among them members of Congress, current and former State Governors, a former business woman, and a retired surgeon. It was a motley crew, and with Trump took center stage. He came on strong and took no prisoners. He was funny, mean, disdainful, belligerent and misogynistic — and his followers seem to love it no matter how bizarre it seemed.
As for Hillary Clinton, she won by defeating an unknown law professor, two former Senators and one sitting Senator. In the general race she ran long and hard and was generally considered the winner of her three debates with Trump. Hillary was prepared and ready but was able to shake the cloud of suspicion that hung over her. Trump capitalized on her weakness, relentlessly referring to her as “crooked Hillary.”
In the end she won the general election by a two+ votes but Trump won the Electoral College vote by 300+ votes thus winning the presidency.
Hillary Clinton seemed to begin with the notion that it was her turn and the rest be dammed. She campaigned mostly in “Hillary- friendly Blue States” located on the East and West Coasts. Her message basically was that she could best continue the legacy of the Obama years. She basked in the light of the President’s high approval ratings.
Soon, coming from her, that tack became boring and repetitive. She and President Clinton have been in the national spotlight for 24 years, adding to the perception that her messages had become stale. Like the Republicans, Democrats yearned for a change. Bernie Sanders energized voters 18-35 but many of them failed to show up at the polls.
In addition, Hillary ceded the Rust Belt to the Republicans believing her time would be spent better in bluer states. That decision was both arrogant and politically stupid. She ignored the advice of some of her closest advisers who urged her to get off the plane and land in those “red” cities, counties and states. Meanwhile political pundits questioned the wisdom, in the waning days of the campaign, of Trump’s spending valuable time in decidedly blue states.
In a recent press conference, President Obama remembered the number of stops he made in the 87 days before his election in decidedly red states. He drank coffee, shook hands with and talked with the locals, believing that even if he gained only a few votes, his time was well spent.
Hillary lost the electoral vote because she failed to understand what President Obama intuitively knew. No voter should be categorized as a deplorable. Campaigns must canvass all of America without favoring states that portend the highest return on votes. Only then can he/she claim to be a champion for and committed to all the citizenry.
In the end the winning card was for change. Hillary’s baggage eclipsed any bump in support based on President Obama’s popularity. Donald was a wild card, outrageous, unconventional, and frightening to many. He is the personification of change – and that trumps any misgivings regarding his outlandish proposals.
America! Now is the time to get over this election and move on to the 2018, and take back the Senate!