Political pundits across the board are expressing total shock that Donald Trump will be our nation’s 45th president.
Of particular interest are all the Republicans who predicted President-elect Trump’s defeat days before the election. One with lots of egg on his face is Matthew Dowd who I worked with on the 2000 Bush presidential campaign. A political analyst for ABC News, on Election Day, Dowd not only said Trump would lose with 95% certainty, when asked a second time if he was absolutely sure of such a prediction, he “corrected” his forecast by increasing it to a 96% chance that he would lose.
Despite the opinions of all these so-called “experts,” no one should be really surprised by the results of this election.
First, Hillary Clinton was a terrible candidate for the Democrats. I know a lot of my Democrat friends are very disappointed that America still hasn’t elected a female president, but gender shouldn’t be the main qualification for president. I’m confident that someday we will elect a woman president, and I hope that (Republican) woman is someone eminently qualified and for whom we can be extremely proud. Hillary Clinton just wasn’t that woman.
Running against an extremely flawed candidate wasn’t the only reason Trump won. There are other factors. The electorate wanted change. They were tired of the elites who not only clearly looked down their noses at them but who didn’t even have the decency to do anything to make their lives better with all the power they’d taken for themselves.
But of all the reasons why Donald Trump won, none could be bigger than the fact that he energized a coalition that has worked for Republicans before and will work again if we don’t lose sight of it.
Blue collar workers came out in droves for Trump. Many of them are union members and although their union bosses were telling them to vote one way, they voted another. Clearly, they’d had enough.
In the 1980’s, this same demographic was called Reagan Democrats. Most had been lifelong Democrats, but as they often would say, their party had left them behind. Democrats hadn’t really been loyal to them, so they saw no need to reciprocate.
With Reagan gone, their numbers slowly retreated back to the party many of them grew up with. Ironically, this was due in large part to Bill Clinton who moved the Democrats back closer to the middle on the political spectrum while Republicans became increasingly ineffective in keeping them in the fold.
Only one Republican in those days seemed to get it and that was Jack Kemp. He built his entire political career on exploring ways for people to live the American Dream. His idea of creating Empowerment Zones in inner cities to help lift people up is one that should be put into greater practice today. His protégé is the current Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan.
In his campaign, Donald Trump spoke to the dreams and aspirations of Middle America. If you’re a strictly political person, it’s smart. That’s where you can find the most votes. It’s also inspirational. A country that’s focused entirely on class envy and entitlement would be a pretty depressing place to live.
Republicans have a great opportunity here.
What happens in the next four years will determine the future of the GOP. Given that, Republicans need to band together and do whatever it takes to make America great again.