Tuesday, May 28, 2024

The People Have Spoken

The procrastinators procrastinated and the pontificators pontificated. The experts wagged their fingers, the mainstream politicians wagged theirs. Never Trumpers warned and Democrats rallied around their failed candidate. They said he wouldn’t run. They said he couldn’t run. They said he couldn’t win.

And then the people spoke, capping a year-long wild ride. Outsider Donald Trump held the people’s attention and was the most talked about candidate from the day he entered the race. The media tried desperately to portray him as a dangerous, evil, monster and buffoon, with full time negative coverage, which served to drive down his poll numbers and convince many the establishment that he had no chance of winning his insurgent campaign.

And now the White House, Senate, and House will all be Republican for the first time since 1928. Donald Trump, commander of the free world? Who would have thunk it!

Hillary Clinton didn’t fare much better that Trump in the popularity contest, but despite all her flaws, she was seen as a steady hand in a troubling time, with a wealth of experience. Though she was heavily promoted by the media, he opponent was able to pull off the most phenomenal victory in the country’s history.

Trump’s early positions and bombastic statements upset many, but he fed off a feeling that the government had slipped away from the people.

Trump expressed the thoughts of many people and responded in kind to Democrat attacks on him, something that Republicans rarely do. He gave voice to the pent-up feelings many harbor against the liberal tilt the country has taken and wrapped it in anti-establishment populism. He entered the race with no political backers and no funding system in place, and was mocked from the day he entered until the very end. He was given little chance of catching on, then of winning even one primary, then of winning the important primaries, and then of getting the nomination. The experts who got it wrong from the beginning gave the political novice no chance of winning the election. He kept the race close until the very end. It was neck in neck going into Election Day and nobody was able to say with any certainty who would win.

Mrs. Clinton enjoyed the support of the entire Democrat party and its elected and nonelected leaders. She was able to raise hundreds of millions of dollars to keep her race on course, despite the many bumps. She benefitted from decades of experience in the public arena as political spouse, senator and secretary of state. Despite her failings, she was adept at running her campaign, something that allowed her to remain in the lead and maintain the impression of the inevitable winner from the day she entered the race.

Straining toward the finish line of the wildly unpredictable White House race, Clinton and Trump blitzed through battleground states on Monday in a final bid to energize supporters. Clinton urged voters to embrace a “hopeful, inclusive, bighearted America,” while Trump called for support to “beat the corrupt system.”

The candidates campaigned late into the night, a frenzied end to an election year that laid bare the nation’s deep economic and cultural divides.

Clinton opened the day on Monday buoyed by FBI Director James Comey’s announcement on Sunday that he would not recommend criminal charges against her following a new email review. The inquiry had sapped a surging Clinton momentum at a crucial moment in the race, just as people were realizing that their insurance premiums were about to go through the roof again thanks to the plan she supported. Through it all she still headed into Election Day with multiple paths to the 270 Electoral College votes needed to become president.

“I think I have some work to do to bring the country together,” she said as she boarded her plane for her last battleground tour. “I really do want to be the president for everybody.”

As Clinton took the stage in Pittsburgh, supporters yelled out, “We love you,” an unusual occurrence for the Democratic presidential candidate who has sometimes struggled to connect with voters.

“I love you all, too. Absolutely,” Clinton said with a slight chuckle.

Trump was aggressive to the end, repeatedly slamming Clinton at rallies. Having made the new FBI review a centerpiece of his closing case to voters, he argued that Clinton was being protected by a “totally rigged system.”

“You have one magnificent chance to beat the corrupt system and deliver justice,” Trump said. “Do not let this opportunity slip away.”

The comments were a reminder that Comey’s news, delivered in a letter to lawmakers on Sunday, was a doubled-edged sword for Clinton. While it vindicated her claims that the emails would not yield new evidence, it ensured that a controversy that has dogged her campaign from the start would follow her through Election Day.

At an evening rally Monday in Philadelphia with President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama, Clinton tried to fly above the controversy.

Clinton was counting on a high turnout, particularly among Obama’s young, diverse coalition of voters, to carry her over the finish line. Tossup states Florida and Nevada have booming Hispanic populations, which Clinton was counting on to win those states. She won Nevada but lost Florida.

Trump deputy campaign manager David Bossie downplayed the impact of increased Hispanic participation, telling reporters on a conference call, “We feel that we’re going to get a good share of those votes.” Trump did go on to win more Latin o votes than anyone had predicted.

“They say we’ll get a tremendous amount of credit, win or lose,” he said at a Florida rally. “I said: ‘No, no, no, no. I don’t want any credit if we lose.’”

It was accepted that without victories in Florida and Nevada, Trump’s path to 270 electoral votes would be exceedingly narrow. So, following the rally in Florida, he headed to North Carolina and then was off to Pennsylvania, New Hampshire and Michigan.

Midway through his travels on Monday, Trump praised his supporters for having created a “movement.” But he warned it would all slip away if he lost on Tuesday.

“Go vote,” he urged. “Or honestly, we’ve all wasted our time.”

They voted. They spoke. Loudly.

Clinton did better among women, blacks, Hispanics, urban voters, nonreligious and union families. Trump had the support of men, whites, rural voters, investors and blue collar workers. He had the overwhelming support of religious people, carrying the vital evangelical vote, though he is far from religious himself.

In his final rally, early Tuesday morning, Trump spoke to supporters in Grand Rapids, MI, saying “Today is our Independence Day. Today the American working class is striking back.”

Mrs. Clinton was hopeful as she wound down her campaign, speaking with the confidence of a winner, saying, “We choose to believe in a hopeful, inclusive, big-hearted America. I’m betting that tomorrow you will reject fear and you will choose hope.”

He did what he said he would do and racked up one state after another, redrawing the map with the states Republicans usually pursue and picking up rust belt states where people are eager to get back to work. It was a Brexit vote as he had predicted, enduring much ridicule. White working class Americans pulled the lever for him, as did many others. They want change. They want the swamp drained. Washington doesn’t work and they have had enough.

Trump, the outsider, connected with the people. They identified with him, and despite everything that was thrown at him and his flaws, across the country the people went out and said let’s try him, we have nothing to lose. The ruling class wasn’t able to do the job, we hope and pray that Hashem will enable to new president to heal the nation, bring the people together and get to work making the country great again.



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