Welcome to 2016 in the Divided States of America.
Who would have ever thought that Donald Trump would be elected president when all this first began back in March of last year? Well, at 2:32AM on November 9, 2016, hell officially froze over and America elected Donald Trump the 45th President of the United States.
But, every so often, things need to be turned upside down to put them right-side up. So the voters did the political equivalent of using an ideological 2-by-4 to get the country’s attention. And make no mistake, Donald Trump’s victory was a sharp, populist kick to the groin of the liberal establishment that has dominated American mindshare, media and politics for most of the last decade.
For the purposes of full disclosure, I voted for Hillary Clinton – albeit reluctantly. I think she would’ve made a decent president but would have likely been under political artillery fire around the clock from the Republicans – which would have compromised her effectiveness in office as it did Barack Obama’s.
But, in hindsight, it really doesn’t surprise me that Donald Trump won the election. Over the months, as I watched the news coverage, it seemed to me that the media was starting to get a little too nervous about him. Could he actually win? Trump was rogue and unpredictable. He was in your face. He was a New Yorker. And he had 15,000,000 Twitter followers. All the while, Hillary was slipping, then recovering and then slipping again in the polls.
So to help her seal the deal, the media stopped reporting on Hillary – and started selling her to us. But there’s an old adage in sales that goes something like this: “people buy from people they like.” Although Trump, like Clinton, had extremely low favorability ratings, the voters saw her moral deficit as just too large to overcome. And as the campaign dragged on, the never-ending email scandals plaguing her made it very clear that something wasn’t quite right on the Left. No pun intended.
In the end, thanks to Julian Assange, Hillary Clinton was Wiki-Leaked into political extinction.
But try the media did. “Just look at the numbers. Trump can’t possibly win” one pundit said a few days before Election Day. “His path to victory is improbable, if not impossible” he continued. And many prominent voices in the media kept implying that the election basically belonged to Hillary anyway. “It’s her turn,” I would hear every day.
Well, it wasn’t. And when the voting was over, the silent majority had spoken. Actually, the silent majority had screamed. It was Donald J. Trump’s turn.
So now, a rainbow coalition of young millennials – still lost in an ideological fog – are angrily protesting the election results across the country – both in the streets and all over social media as well. And while many of the cell phone videos being released make it seem like there is a never ending flow of enraged demonstrators, it is probably less than 1/20 of 1% of the population – at most.
Of course, the real irony here is they’re demonstrating because the democratic system actually worked – not because it failed. They just didn’t like the outcome.
Others are now calling for the complete gutting of the Electoral College – which was established as part of America’s Constitution in 1787. Yes, Hillary won the popular vote but she lost the Electoral College. That’s how it works. Those are the rules. It’s like saying that one team beat the other in football because they ran up and down the field more often even though the other team scored more goals. Sorry, you lost. The number of goals you score determines the winner of the game. Nothing else.
Of course, had Clinton won the election, the Left would be extolling the virtues of the system and marveling at how well it performed. So, come on kids, get over it. You can’t just change the rules to get the result you want.
So now it’s time for the U.S. to start to heal itself. I’m hopeful we can but, frankly, I’m not convinced we have the national will. We are so divided it’s almost as if we are two countries right now. There’s anger everywhere. I walk all over New York every day and the vibe on the streets reminds me of an angry America in the late 1960’s. The main difference is that Donald Trump is now the new Richard Nixon.
So Trump needs to lead the country and act decisively to reunite America. He needs to reassure the voters that he is the President of all the people irrespective of gender, religion, race or ideological leaning.
But as the recent protests and unrestrained fury on Facebook and Twitter demonstrate, the liberal establishment doesn’t react well to losing. They don’t play well with the other kids in the sandbox especially if they disagree with them. So here’s the bottom line. The results are final and the American people have spoken. President Obama said exactly this in his post-election press conference.
We now need to give Trump a chance to govern.
But watch what he does, not what he says. Campaigns are about words. Presidencies are about actions. Yes, he will attempt to reverse many of Obama’s policies as well as most of his executive orders. Let’s face it, much of it hasn’t worked. That’s why the voters chose another path and put Trump in office. And if he fails, he’ll be out too. That’s the beauty of democracy. If the president doesn’t do a good job, you can fire him.
Trump’s mandate from the American people is to fix what ails us. I hope he focuses on creating jobs first. Putting people back to work always acts as a salve on the wound and will spark the economy. He’s claiming he will spend USD 1 trillion on infrastructure projects across the country – although it will likely take a few years for that to have an impact. He will push to reduce taxes which is long overdue. And with a Republican controlled Congress, he could get this done early on in his presidency. He will look to rebuild the military to its former levels just like Ronald Regan did back in the 1980’s. What he does with it, however, is anybody’s guess. My sense is he will also start to move away from the incendiary rhetoric against Muslims and Mexicans – and he should. He has to. But I don’t think he is anti-Muslim. He is anti-terrorism. And he is not anti-Mexican. He is anti-illegal immigration. There’s a big difference. He is already softening his position on the mass deportation of illegal immigrants saying now that only those with criminal records will be deported. But he will also secure the borders and make it very tough to get into this country illegally – wherever you’re from.
Perhaps the best illustration of how he might approach the presidency is this. Back in 1986, real estate developer Donald Trump watched New York City try – and repeatedly fail – to build a public skating rink in Central Park. It had already been under construction for 12 years at that point. Legendary New York City mayor, Ed Koch, told Trump he’d give him the project but he needed it finished in 18 months. Trump said he could do it in four. And he finished in three. I think this is the kind of President we could very well get.
Donald Trump and I are both New Yorkers – actually, we each grew up in Queens which is one of the city’s five boroughs. So here’s one thing I know for sure. He’ll work harder than anyone on the planet. And that’s a trait you want in your president.
So I’ll leave you with this. Stop whining. It benefits all of us to give Donald Trump the opportunity to do his job and allow for the peaceful transition of power to a new administration with different ideas. This is our history and how we have always done it. We gave Barack Obama the chance to govern. We gave George W. Bush the chance to govern. And every president before them too. If Hillary had won, I’d have gotten behind her and cheered her on as well.
But now it’s Trump’s turn. If we render his efforts ineffective through endless protests and violence, blatantly biased media coverage, social media smear campaigns and partisan political obstruction, I am not sure we will ever find our way back to being the United States of America again.
Rather, we will unfortunately remain as we are today. The Divided States of America.
So give him a chance.