Donald Trump’s victory was the most stunning, shocking, earth-shaking, landscape-shattering election upset in American history.
Nobody looked more surprised than Trump. And more than a few of his voters no doubt woke up the day after and said, “Hold on. I didn’t think he’d win.”
After something so jarring, it’s human nature to minimize, rationalize and, as they say, “normalize” the absurdly abnormal.
Don’t. Even. Try.
We’ve left the gravitational pull of Earth, and who knows where we’ll land.
Remember all the far-fetched theorizing about whether a third-party candidate could ever be elected President?
He just was.
Trump is barely a Republican. He’s been a Democrat and an Independent. His party identification is as promiscuous as his personal life.
He did a hostile takeover of the Republican Party. Then he routed the Democrats.
Now Republicans rule all Washington, and the battles that count will be between the Establishment that Trump mocked and the Populist/Alt-right Anti-Establishment that he mobilized. That is, who prevails: Steve Bannon or Reince Priebus?
The same thing almost happened to the Democrats.
Hillary Clinton – for all her money, history and institutional power – struggled to defeat a 75-year-old Socialist from Vermont. Who wasn’t even a Democrat.
By now, it’s a cliché that Trump won because he represented change and Clinton, more of the same.
The outcome also affirmed my Theory of The Race: “If you’re the news, you lose.” Thanks to the FBI email investigation, Hillary was the news the last 12 days of the campaign.
She apparently blames her loss on the FBI. But there is more to it. Now she and her campaign will undergo one of the cruelest rituals of politics: months and years of savage second-guessing and score-settling.
Already, we’re hearing that Bill Clinton wanted the campaign to focus more on winning the blue-collar Bubba voters he won in ’92 and ’96, while the campaign management pointed to data showing that the winning coalition was urbanites, women, minorities and millennials.
It was Big Data versus the Big Dog. And the Big Dog will be howling, growling and gnawing on this bone for a long time.
Big Data got beat by a 70-year-old billionaire who, from his gilded, gold-plated perch in a Manhattan penthouse, got the mood of the country better than anybody else.
What we get for President isn’t yet clear. As President Obama said, I’ll be pulling for Trump.
And praying for our country.
Once Democrats climb out of the fetal position, they should study what happened later to the victors of 1964, 1972, 1992 and 2004. When things get smashed up, you never know how they’ll sort out. You could look it up.
Remember that time Americans wanted change so bad they took a risk and elected an inexperienced black guy President? This time, they wanted change so bad they took a risk and elected a weird white guy.
So let’s think on it. Why did so many people who voted for “Hope and Change” in 2008 vote to “Make America Great Again” in 2016?
And what will they want in 2018 and 2020?