God help us.
I missed this. I readily admit that. But everybody missed it. Nate Silver came a little closer than the other numbers guys, who had Hillary winning at levels like 85 or even 98 percent; Silver was down in the high 60s. But almost nobody expected this.
It just seemed too unbelievable. All the outrageous things he said and did, things that were just automatically disqualifying to so many of us. And by “us,” I don’t mean liberals. Conservatives were aghast, at his rhetoric, his prideful ignorance. I mean the newspapers around the country, many of them conservative, endorsing in Clinton their first Democrat in 100 years and the like.
I knew when I woke up Tuesday morning: With all these numbers I’ve been poring over, the only thing that can propel Trump to victory is a totally unforeseen white working-class turnout. There are experts on this stuff, and they all said “we don’t see it.” Well…
It was, of course, massive. We have millions of countrymen and women who—well, two types, I think. The first were the actual deplorables, the people who actively supported the racism and xenophobia. They’re overjoyed. And think about that—white supremacists are overjoyed.
But the second type are people who were probably a little embarrassed by the open racism, probably uncomfortable with Trump personally. But they hated Washington, they hated the establishment, and boy, they hated her. Those three hatreds were so great that the people in this second category just said the hell with it, it can’t be worse. Now, they’ll find out if that’s so.
Bill Clinton seemed to acknowledge these folks in a talk he gave at a private fundraiser in October, when he said: “And so they think the political system is rigged against them, which it is to some extent, and they think it doesn’t make any difference anyway, so they want to vote for whoever they think will raise the most hell.”
It’s these people who made this happen. Decent people. Trump ran even with Clinton in Bucks County, Pennsylvania? I’ve spent a fair amount of time in Bucks County. It’s not deep Alabama. It’s a place with an artsy little summer town, New Hope, and antique shops and organic markets. Trump.
This is what we missed. This was the media error. The media was always on the lookout for the crazy Trump supporter, and there were more than enough of them to go around. Maybe we ignored the quiet Trump voters.
Now, according to conventional wisdom, here I’m supposed to say something like: And the political system ignored them, too. That’s what everyone will say. Well, sort of. But Barack Obama tried to do stuff for these people. Anybody remember the auto bailout? OK, Obama pushed hard for free trade. That was a mistake. But he didn’t ignore these people.
Their quality of life has been declining for a long time, and yeah, the reasons are somewhat bipartisan. But which party has been telling us for 35 years that what we need to do is let the rich get richer and everyone will benefit? They’re the party that did more to create this anger. And now, they’re the party that benefits from the anger achieving its fullest expression.
These people’s expectations of Trump are awfully high. They really do think he can drain the swamp, or many of them do. What does that mean? He hardly mentioned any policies. So he’s going to do what for these folks? Cancel the Trans-Pacific Partnership—something that doesn’t yet exist. Then what? It’s a near-total mystery.
And what’s he going to do to the America that opposed him? The two things are bound up with each other, no? He all but has to move to crack down on undocumented aliens. That was his core promise to his people. They’re going to demand it.
And his people are going to expect that to improve their lives in some way. We’ll see.
The candidate who told voters “You have one day until the election to make every dream you’ve ever dreamed for your country and your family to come true” is on the hook now to deliver.
That rigged system he ran against? He runs it now.
Trump’s Americans have roared. They’ll get their revenge. God help the rest of us, and God help the world.