By Robert J. Guttman
November 10, 2016
Picture: Donald Trump speaking at CPAC 2011 in Washington, D.C. Credits: Gage Skidmore.
Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, FDR, Reagan, Trump.
Even Fillmore, Buchanan, Arthur, Pierce and Trump sounds odd.
Listing our new president-elect with our great presidents of the past seems so out of place. And, even listing Trump with some of our less respected presidents also seems odd. Even our poorly ranked presidents in the past had had previous political and government experience before becoming president.
Trump, who seems to have no qualifications for the presidency, will now move into the Oval Office next January and all Americans can hope and pray he will show a more compassionate and sensible side to his character.
The bombastic billionaire won an impressive victory staging one of the most unbelievable upsets in our modern political history. While the pundits and journalists were busy getting ready to write their “Madame President” lead articles they failed to note, Hillary was not winning over the American voter to her views.
As I mentioned time and time again to my students in my Johns Hopkins, Cornell and George Mason classes this semester, Hillary had run for president in 2008 and lost to a then relatively unknown junior senator from Illinois named Barack Obama.
In 2016, she had a hard time against the more progressive Bernie Sanders in the primaries. The Democrats made a mistake by saying “it was her turn” to be their presidential candidate. The Democratic leadership crowded out other better campaigners including VP Biden. Hillary has never been a good campaigner.
As an article in The New York Times on November 9th by Matt Flegenheimer and Michael Barbaro stated, “But over and over, Mrs. Clinton’s weaknesses as a candidate were exposed. She failed to excite voters hungry for change. She struggled to build trust with Americans who were baffled by her decision to use a private email server as secretary of state. And, she strained to make a persuasive case for herself as a champion of the economically downtrodden after delivering perfunctory paid speeches that earned her millions of dollars. The returns Tuesday also amounted to a historic rebuke of the Democratic Party from the white blue-collar voters who had formed the party base from the presidency of Franklin D. Roosevelt to Mr. Clinton’s.”
While Hillary was acting more like a rock concert promoter with The Boss, Bon Jovi and Lady Gaga, the average Democratic voter across the Rust Belt was wondering why their party had now become the party of Hollywood and seemed elitist to them.
As The New York Times article states, “From Pennsylvania to Wisconsin, industrial towns once full of union voters who for decades offered their votes to Democratic presidential candidates, even in the party’s lean years, shifted to Mr. Trump’s Republican Party. . . .Trump “seemed to embody the success and grandeur that so many of his followers felt was missing from their own lives—and from the country itself.”
Trump discovered the so-called Silent majority that helped propel Richard Nixon into the White House in 1968. Ronald Reagan, an optimistic former two term governor of California, also discovered disaffected blue collar labor union workers who helped his back to back victories in 1980 and 1984.
The Democratic Party forgot its base. The Democratic Party forgot that America does not like political dynasties (remember Jeb Bush losing to Trump in primaries). The Democratic Party has become more Hollywood than labor union halls. Trump was correct when he said many Democrats are only cared about every four years when their votes are needed.
As one of my students said, “People don’t like Hillary”. She never captured the excitement that her husband and Obama had with the voters. She was too clever and too cautious.
This was an election for change. This was an election to move the country in another direction. This was an election where many voters were saying we are sick and tired of being forgotten and told what is good for us.
Hillary ran a normal and traditional campaign. She won the three debates and she spent the most money. But, the country was not buying her views.
Hillary seemed like the well prepared teachers’ pet who sets up everything as it should be to win the praise of her third grade teacher. While she sits at her desk with all the answers for her class, Trump is the class bully who slouches into class and messes up everything she has set up and laughs about it.
But, the American voter has now chosen the class bully to lead us for the next four years. Trump talks like a third grader with his simplistic comments and half sentences. He was rude and mean spirited and degraded people with disabilities and many minorities.
Our president-elect is a rather crude, nasty person who seems to care mainly about himself. Let us all hope he has some positive programs he wants to put into place as he has a GOP House and Senate to back him up in his legislative agenda.
Has America become one large reality show and electing a reality show star is the logical outcome of our less than civil society today?
There will be many books and articles written in the coming days and years on how Trump pulled off this amazing upset. There will continue to be dismay among our allies around the world.
Reasons abound for his upset victory:
He spoke a simple message-in a loud voice-about this Wall on our border and how he sees illegal immigrants as a threat to our nation.
He used the new social media mainly Twitter better than his opponent. He took a “huge” advantage of free media by staying at his gold plated apartment at Trump Tower in his pajamas and calling all the early morning talk shows with his views.
He will be America’s wealthiest president in our history. Many voters saw this as a plus. It is rather odd that in 2012 Romney’s wealth-much less than the 2016 president elect-was considered a negative.
Trump has re-written the playbook on how to get elected president. He spent less money than his opponent, he had a smaller staff and had fewer campaign offices across the battleground states than Hillary.
Never has a Republican presidential candidate said so many negative things against previous GOP presidents and presidential candidates. Never has the Republican Party leadership been so repudiated.
Never has America had a person outside of politics win the Oval Office. Ike, who was a five star general and helped win World War II was our last president elected who had no previous political experience. However, Ike’s qualifications way overshadow a man best known for beauty contests golf courses and buildings with his name on them.
We have entered a new era. Let’s give our new president-elect the benefit of the doubt and hope he will know how to govern effectively.
Trump certainly proved most everyone wrong by winning the election so maybe he is more qualified than he talks or appears. For America’s sake let’s hope he is better than many of us think. Our future depends on it!