Trump’s supporters have the right to celebrate for a few days, but they are over-interpreting the results.
His supporters are rightly euphoric about Trump’s stunning upset. He won against all the pollsters and pundits. Hillary won’t pick the SCOTUS nominee to replace Antonin Scalia, and if one or two others retire or vacate with health issues, then Trump will get to select them, too.
But in their euphoria, conservative writers and radio hosts are over-interpreting the results. If Trump has a mandate, it is barely visible. For the future of conservatism, the GOP can’t sit back, put their feet up, dust off their hands, and exclaim, “He has changed politics forever! Landslide!”
Truthfully, the GOP, flush with victory, is famous for over-reading election results and doesn’t prepare for soon-coming reality.
Truthfully, Trump is a black swan, an unexpected, significant event, flying high in a perfect storm, and those things don’t come around very often. One may never come around again.
Here are the elements in the once-in-a-lifetime perfect storm.
Obama is an exceedingly opaque and weak leader of the Democrat party and the nation. He may be personally liked, which is the hidden reason why his approval rating is 55%, but his policies, like Obamacare and the Iran deal, are unpopular. The economy is really weak. Up to 70% believed that the country was going in the wrong direction economically. His refusal to say “Islamic terror” immediately after terrorist attacks in this nation grated on people’s nerves and scared others. How can he fight what he can’t see? He was the embodiment of political correctness, and after eight years, people got sick of it. Trump was the anti-Obama.
A future Democrat nominee will wisely learn from this mistake and at least say the words, even if he quickly adds that Islam is not the issue or some such qualifier. The future Dem nominee may even benefit from a possibly unimproved economy or a series of Trump’s gaffes and missteps in foreign policy. In short, the nominee won’t be another insipid Obama.
Hillary was the weakest opponent in our lifetimes. At least Carter, Dukakis, and Mondale didn’t have a mountain of corrupt behavior, as she did in two areas: her personal enrichment in the Clinton Foundation and her rules-breaking personal server transmitting classified information. The Democrats allowed her nomination against the judgment of the wiser ones among them. Will the Dems make this same mistake again? Doubtful.
Another area of Hillary’s unprecedented weakness is her unlikability. She simply did not inspire enough voters to come out and support her. However, at the time of this writing, she leads Trump in the popular vote. How can Trump claim a mandate? (And yes, I support the Electoral College.)
The Comey confusion certainly didn’t help her, either.
Another element to the perfect storm, involving Hillary: Countless numbers of conservative voters didn’t so much vote for him as they did against Hillary.
Further, countless conservatives may have voted for Justice Scalia’s replacement, not for Trump. It’s difficult to see a mandate there. One wonders if Trump could have won if Scalia were alive.
If two members of the Washington “insiders,” Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell, cave in to his threatened trade wars, then the war will hurt the economy. Then the Dems could easily rebuild the so-called Blue Wall. Trump won Pennsylvania 48-47 and Michigan by a mere 12,000 votes, if that holds, and Wisconsin at 47-46.
His novelty act is easily vulnerable to Trump Fatigue in a year or two.
Another factor: From reality TV he had saturated name recognition that traditional politicians don’t have, though admittedly Hillary’s name recognition was also widespread.
It is true that Trump got a surprising number of Hispanic voters, as many or more than Romney got (but not close to George W. Bush’s numbers, prophetically). What if the Dems nominate a minority or woman with strong appeal, much stronger than Hillary’s, who draws them out to vote? Right now it is difficult to see who that can be, but a lot can change in four to twelve years.
What if Trump keeps up his offensive comments about minorities? Can he get away with them for long? Trump Fatigue again. He seems to have changed, but one never knows about him.
The demographic truth is much deeper than November 2016; as time rolls on, these competing factions will transition to no. 2.
- Soon to be outdated or challenged: Trump’s Populism of White People versus the D.C. ‘Establishment’ of Old White Men.
- Soon to dominate: New America of Diversity vs. the outdated first point and misguided third point.
- Misguided: Alt-right v. the elements in first two points.
I wish the two sides in the first point would make up and work together because it’s the second one that is the most accurate, culturally speaking. From K-12 teachers have talked about diversity. The GOP can either channel this cultural tsunami or resist it and be swept away. The GOP does not have to reach all minorities – just a certain percentage, more than Trump did against a damaged, uninspiring Hillary. More important than winning elections, persuading and including as many people in the conservative movement, which will better their lives, is the right thing to do.
Finally, Trump benefited from the hard work of the GOP in 2010 and 2014, before he became a Republican in June 2015. A little research may reveal that he donated to Dems in those two election cycles. The GOP retaining the House and Senate, by a slim majority in the upper chamber, gives the exciting impression of a “historic mandate” for Trump. Can they keep the majority? Maybe, for the 2018 map favors them.
Whatever happens, Trump had nothing to do with 2010 and 2014. This was accomplished by the D.C. “Establishment” represented by Priebus, McConnell, Boehner, and Ryan (et al.). Trump is simply riding on their coattails. But will his strong supporters acknowledge this and plan their way toward 2020? If not, the future can get bleak very rapidly.
Yes, celebrate the victory. Trump supporters deserve it. It was a complete surprise, a black swan – though I speculated on how Trump might win it all, I never thought he could pull it off.
Personally, I’m glad that the Clintons have been kicked to the curb and that we will have a conservative SCOTUS nominee and an improved economy and the rollback of the regulation bureaucracy – if the “Establishment” can guide the erratic, wildcard neophyte and he remains teachable.
Clearly, Trump’s experienced campaign team borrowed from longstanding conservative principles and coached him for the second and third debates and incorporated these principles into his speeches. Implementing them as president, recent Republican Trump can succeed.
However, his team and devoted supporters shouldn’t over-read the results through the long haul and get cocky and complacent. (“Pride goes before a fall.”) His mandate is actually minimal, hangs by a thread, and is easily lost.
In the meantime, and for what it’s worth, I will pray for him and much success. I am cautiously hopeful for the next two years.
This post updates the version at American Thinker, on Nov. 12, 2016.