President-elect Donald Trump has done the unthinkable. Then again, he’s getting pretty used to that.
At every step of the way Trump has been criticized, attacked and ultimately dismissed, and every step of the way Trump kept fighting and proving people wrong.
He ignored every rule of modern politics. He didn’t have a script, but simply said what was on his mind and what he believed would resonate with average Americans. He didn’t have a proper campaign apparatus or a data-driven political machine, but instead relied on a grassroots movement of forgotten voters to carry him to victory. He scoffed at ideologies, refusing to stay within the lines of conservatism or liberalism and instead instituted a whole new brand based on pragmatism.
In short, he was the first to sense that a huge swath of Americans felt left and that traditional approaches to politicking wouldn’t work. He didn’t build a political campaign so much as he did capture the national imagination.
People are anxious about the future and convinced that the elites, with their fancy poll-tested words, didn’t have their best interests at heart. As the Washington Post writes, “[Trump] took advantage of that shift in culture and turned himself into a human vent, blasting the country with a steam of frustration and anger that many people had either kept to themselves or spewed about only anonymously.”
But until last night, everyone still doubted him. Take a look at some of these headlines:
- The Week: Donald Trump is Poised to Lose in the Biggest Landslide in Modern American History
- NBC News: Democrats Are on Track to Take Back the Senate
- PoliticsUSA: Trump Triggering a Democratic Landslide as Republicans Vow to Vote for Clinton
- NBC News: Trump’s Unpopularity Could Put GOP House Control in Danger
- The Hill: Senate Dems See Potential for a Big Wave
- New Republic: Donald Trump Will Be Buried in an Electoral Avalanche
Before last night, Trump losing was a given. Conventional wisdom suggested that Trump would also probably cost the GOP its Senate majority. And there were beginning to be questions about whether Republicans would lose the House.
Of course none of that happened. While the political class was busy writing the party’s obituary, Trump, and the Republican candidates on his coattails, didn’t just survive, they thrived. And they thrived by reaching out to disaffected voters, including blue-collar Democrats, in the supposed blue state firewall that Clinton built. Trump, it turns out, didn’t damage down-ticket Republicans by dissuading conservatives from voting, he helped them by building a bigger tent.
The result, as Amber Phillips writes for the Washington Post is that, “Republicans are set to achieve what has become nearly impossible to achieve in modern-day politics: Control or sway over all three branches of government.”
“A party hasn’t been so dominant in America since the World War II era,” she continues.
After his amazing, out-of-nowhere victory Trump could have gloated. After all, for much of the campaign it seemed like he was the only one who believed he had a chance and fought to make it a reality. But Trump couldn’t have been more magnanimous in his victory speech, praising Clinton for her hard work and service and urging unity.
“Now it is time for America to bind the wounds of division, to get together,” Trump said. “To all Republicans and Democrats and independents across this nation, I say it is time for us to come together as one united people. It’s time. I pledge to every citizen of our land that I will be president for all Americans, and this is so important to me.
Will Democrats, and even some Republicans, be willing to meet Trump where he stands? We can only hope. There is so much work to be done