By HOWARD BARBANEL
The election wasn’t rigged.
Confounding the pollsters, the pundits, the media and conventional wisdom, Donald J. Trump, entertainer, entrepreneur and real estate developer was elected as the next President of the United States.
Improbably, a billionaire became the voice of the common man having run a populist campaign pledging to give voice to the ignored, the dispossessed and disenfranchised – those left behind in the high tech revolution, those passed over in the massive cultural changes of the past dozen years, those who felt palpable insecurity with the evaporation of much manufacturing, the explosion in health care costs and those who tired of accommodation and appeasement of violent Islamic extremists.
Trump put together a victory without the benefit of carrying the Northeast or the West Coast – the Trump win was a win for the “Flyover States,” as the middle of the country is sometimes derisively dismissed by the coastal elites. It was also a win for Texas and Dixie – the South rose up to repudiate an increasingly liberal and progressive vision of America as embodied by eight years of President Obama. Even Florida narrowly slipped out of the Democrats’ grasp. This is the first presidential election in perhaps a century that was accomplished without winning New York, Illinois or California.
The Trump win can be compared in to Richard Nixon’s in 1969 when Spiro Agnew’s “Silent Majority,” the everyday folks ignored by the media ushered in GOP rule as a reset to America’s “cultural revolution” of the 1960s. Trump’s victory also has echoes of Andrew Jackson – a sometimes vulgar and coarse blunt-speaking, hard-charging guy who eventually also overcame the disgust of the entrenched elites of his day and the dynastic entitlements of the Adams (John and John Quincey) family.
A majority of American voters were just not that into Hillary. Never an especially likeable figure and never an especially good retail politician, Hillary oozed aristocratic entitlement and fixed, smoke-filled room inevitability, which is why Obama was able to beat her in 2008 and why Bernie Sanders came awfully close in this primary season. That it was “her time” and “her turn” didn’t resonate with most folks.
In a sense it really was FBI Director James Comey who put Trump over the top. With his campaign swooning in the polls just two weeks ago, Comey’s letter to Congress about Huma Abedin’s laptop and more Clinton emails was the tipping point for many Americans. No matter that just before balloting Mr. Comey cleared Hillary yet again, the sense of many people was that Hillary was slippery, untrustworthy and dishonest. That Trump was able to maintain two weeks of self-discipline, stay on message and not go off the cliff on irrational Twitterized tangents made a big difference for many undecided voters.
Finally, the Trump victory also shows that the path for Republican majorities is in part paved with stifling discourse about people’s bodies and people’s bedrooms. Trump was heavily reticent on abortion and highly tolerant of the LBGT community, two areas of often strident posturing by GOP candidates in the past. People just want more tolerance and want candidates focused on big picture issues, not what goes on in their boudoirs.
Mr. Trump gets a solid GOP majority in the House and a secure one in the Senate along with winning The White House. A big mandate to roll-back much of the past eight years. Now all the kids have to play well together to get things done for the American people and we all have to hope and pray that Trump is capable of rising to the august office of the presidency so his late parents, his family, the GOP and the American people will be proud to have elected him.
Howard Barbanel is Editor of InauguralClock and also writes for The Huffington Post. His archive can be found at www.howardbarbanel.net.