Donald Trump won the election and will be president the next four years. Regardless of what people think of him, or the manner in which he conducted himself during the campaign, he won the electoral vote and defeated Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, as well as minor candidates, using the election system now in place.
I haven’t the time or inclination to protest the election or its winner. As a citizen and voter, I will continue to follow the rule of current law and combat the man’s policies I disagree with, as is customary under the First Amendment.
In four years, we’ll do it all again.
I don’t know what kind of president Trump will be, which is both unsettling and a little exciting. He’s not like anything we’ve seen, at least not in my lifetime. But I do know one thing: Our country is headed to the political right over the next four years. And that’s not such a bad thing.
If you spend any time behind the wheel, you know driving in a straight line isn’t really possible. The road may be straight, but you’re constantly making little adjustments with your steering wheel to keep the car between the lines (or the ditches on some roads). It’s never a straight path to move forward. That’s America in a nutshell. Outgoing President Obama steered us to the left over the past eight years. Before that, President George W. Bush had us veering to the right for eight years. Bill Clinton pushed us left during his time, after Reagan and George H.W. Bush had us veer right.
That’s really what the election was about — adjusting the wheel and keeping this country between ditches as long as we can.
It’s been 26 days since Trump beat Clinton, capping one of the most divisive elections in modern history. The swing states proved to be Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, which Trump won by a combined total of 107,000 votes. But those three states were worth 46 Electoral College votes and swung the election. Trump beat Clinton in the Electoral College vote, 306-232. Not a landslide but certainly a comfortable margin. Clinton is winning the popular vote, still to be finalized.
Since the election I’ve reviewed Trump’s stances on issues — at least those I could find. I’ve also been searching for common ground. As I wrote in the spring, Trump’s agenda will most certainly be tempered by Washington. Saying you will do something when you get to Washington, and actually getting it done, are two very different things. Even with Republicans in control of both chambers in Congress, nothing is a given for the new president.
The next president wants to build a wall on our southern border. I support that. I’m less concerned with immigration than I am with the fact that Mexico is basically a failed state. So it makes sense to erect a 1,900-mile barrier of some sort down there. Maybe it’s a wall, maybe it’s a fence. Maybe it’s a moat full of alligators. I’ll let the folks in charge work that one out. It just needs to be a whole lot harder to cross that border than it is now.
Trump also found traction in tough talk on trade. While I don’t share his belief that trade is evil, or solely responsible for the decline in American manufacturing jobs, he’s right to insist on penalties for companies that move jobs from this country in search of cheap labor. There must be an incentive to make things here and employ Americans. That incentive can be a carrot or a stick. Trump won, so he gets to decide which.
As for the election itself, let’s reel in the rhetoric just a little bit. Trump’s election is hardly a watershed moment in American history. Incumbents overwhelmingly won re-election in state after state. Trump’s unconventional candidacy and bare-knuckle campaign tactics turned as many people off as they mobilized — evidenced by the low turnout rate and razor-thin margin in the swing states he won. Voter turnout was down from 2012 and 2008 nationwide, as well as here in McLennan County.
So how did Trump win? He beat the only candidate he could, Hillary Clinton. The Democrats sold out to a 2016 Hillary run the day Obama took office in 2009. They never developed a bench, they never changed their message and they overlooked critical voting blocs that had traditionally voted with them.
Consider this: Clinton defeated Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders 54-46 percent in delegates decided by the primary process this year. Her larger margin of victory was provided by non-elected superdelegates who favored Clinton 602-48. Maybe that’s what Trump was talking about when he said the election was rigged.
Clinton thus took a divided party into the Democratic National Convention and emerged from it with little momentum. Her past — justified or not — finally caught up with her. America has said no to the idea of her being president twice. She lost to a well-organized, little-known senator from Illinois eight years ago in the Democratic primary and again to an anti-establishment con man who tapped into just enough disillusionment at the right time and in the right places.
She was the perfect opponent for a candidate like Trump.
So President-elect Trump takes the wheel next month and we start moving the country back to the right for a while. We’re still moving forward. We’re still between ditches. But for our sake, I hope the man recognizes how low those shoulders really are in this day and age.