Donald Trump will be our next president. I’m shocked and, might as well admit, horrified, but hoping he will outperform expectations. Stranger things have happened.
As this news sinks in, I’d like to pass along some of the things I took down last night while channel-surfing after the results started coming in, in that period of frozen time when the results entered that we-all-know-where-this-ends-but-we’re-not-allowed-to-say-it-yet zone.
On the PBS panel, where I spent most of my evening, they were all avoiding saying very clearly how unlikely it seemed that Hillary Clinton could sweep enough of the remaining swing states to win, so Jeff Greenfield, a veteran journalist whose work I have always respected, after being asked what he thought Bernie Sanders and his followers were thinking, broke the ice with this:
Hillary Clinton was the default choice of the Democratic establishment. Bernie Sanders demonstrated in the primaries that a very large cohort of Democrats wanted something else. She won fair and square, but she entered the race with an awful lot of liabilities that I assume the Clinton campaign thought would be overwhelmed by Trump’s liabilities. I know how much they were rooting for Trump. (I took that to mean that Team Clinton wanted Trump to be the Republican nominee, because they thought he would be the easiest Republican to beat.)
The question now, if Trump does win – and let me be the first to offer a poker analogy: Clinton at this point has to draw to an inside straight, somebody had to say that so I just did — if Clinton does lose, the battle within the Democratic Party over what happened and where it goes next is going to be intense, to put it mildly. … The Bernie Sander supporters are going to be saying that the Democratic Party establishment gave us the only candidate that Trump could have beaten.
Bigger than Clinton’s tactical mistakes
The often thoughtful and always decent David Brooks went next:
We could be watching the greatest upset in American political history. There are small ways to try to account for it. I just saw Ron Brownstein mention on the Atlantic that Hillary Clinton paid two visits to Wisconsin in the law few months. So that could turn to have been a bad decision.
But now it turns out to be a much bigger thing: that there is a tidal wave of revolt against globalization, against the wave of immigration that over the last 20-30 years, against the results of deindustrialization, even though the employment rate is going down, when you add in the number of people who hare out of the labor force, you can get a really big number of families who are seriously disrupted, of family breakdown, the fact that Christians over the last few years have felt completely under assault in this country, because of some of the Supreme Court decisions, and so you can add up a lot factors that were in play [to explain the revolt that led to Trump’s rise]. … So we just have to widen our horizons about what America’s future is about to look like in the next five years.
You won’t want to miss this post-election discussion with Sen. Al Franken and political scientist Norm Ornstein. Get tickets today!
Presidential historian Michael Beschloss, referring to the fact that hardly anyone saw this result coming, added:
We like to think that polling and political analysis has become very scientific and reliable, and that’s another ideas that’s going to be thrown out after tonight.
‘For many it’s a nightmare’
I switched over to CNN, and didn’t hear the lead-up to this, but got there just in time to hear Van Jones, who is a Democrat and an African-American, reacting very strongly to whatever had just been said by the Trump supporters on the panel. Be prepared, his remarks take some unexpected twists and turns. Said Jones:
There’s another side of this. Some people are calling this a miracle, but for many it’s a nightmare. It’s hard to be a parent tonight. You tell your kids: ‘Don’t be a bully. Don’t be a bigot.’ You tell your kids: ‘Do your homework and be prepared.’ (I took that as a reference to the impression that Donald Trump is a bigoted bully who doesn’t do his homework.) And then you have this outcome, and a lot of people are putting their kids to be and they’re afraid of breakfast. They’re afraid of ‘how do I explain this to my children?’ I have Muslim friends who are texting me tonight, saying ‘Do you think I should leave the country?’
This [referring to the election results] was a rebellion against the elites, true. It was a complete reinvention of politics and polls, it’s true. But it was also something else. We haven’t talked about race tonight. We’ve talked about income and class and religion and everything but. I want to talk about race:
This was a whitelash. This was a whitelash against a changing country. It was a whitelash against a black president, in part. And that’s the part where the pain comes. And Donald Trump has a responsibility tonight and that is to come out and reassure the American people that he will be the president of all of the people who feel embattled and offended and brushed aside. You [again, I assume he is responded to something was just said by one of the Trump supporters on the panel] say you want to take your country back. But you have a lot of people who feel they’re not well-represented either. But we don’t want to be feel that someone has been elected by throwing away some of us to appeal to others.
‘Trump represents a fundamental change’
I had turned to away from PBS because I didn’t see anyone on that panel who was a Trump sympathizer, and wanted to make sure I got that viewpoint, so there, on CNN, was Corey Lewandowski, the former Trump campaign manager, turned Trump representative on CNN. Lewandoski explained the Trump appeal thus:
What we’ve said from day one is that Donald Trump represents a fundamental change to Washington D.C. For 30 years, elected officials, both Republicans and Democrats, have made promises they haven’t kept. (He referenced some of the broken promises, on the issues of deficit and debt, and those who promised to make it better just kept adding to the debt by the trillions.)
We’re leaving our country to our kids than our parents left it to us for the first time in the history of the country. And what the people have said [by voting for Trump is] ‘We don’t want that any more. We don’t want people who make promises, that [have] the most extensive credentials ever, to serve as the president of the United States. (I took that as a reference to Clinton’s credentials.)
They don’t want that anymore. They want someone who will tell them the truth, that’s gonna do what they say they’re gonna do, to bring fundamental change to the United States and let the people decide how the country is going to be run. That’s what we’re seeing tonight. That’s what we’re seeing tonight. That the people who listened to what the media said, listened to the narrative of how great the other side was (I took ‘other side’ to be a reference to Democrats), and how the Hispanics were gonna come out in proportions (I took this as a reference to the media’s belief that Trump would lose because of the record Hispanic turnout against him), how Donald Trump was a misogynist and a bigot and all the things we’ve heard the mainstream media talk about.
And they stood back and said: ‘You don’t understand, we’re tired of Washington, D.C. We’re tired of broken promises. We’re tired of people going there and forgetting about us. We want wholesale, fundamental change.
And that, I gather, is what we’ll get.