Riding a wave of disaffected voters, Donald Trump dealt a stunning rebuke to the political establishment yesterday when his once-unthinkable outsider presidential candidacy vaulted him into the Oval Office.
It was an outcome that defied the traditional Republican Party nearly as much as it defeated Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party in knitting together an unhappy constituency that demanded a drastic change in the nation’s course.
It was an outcome that showed us to be deeply divided by race, gender, ethnicity, geography, views on religion, educational achievement, income levels, and our sense of what it means to have character and how much that matters. And it’s an outcome that plunges the nation and world into uncertainty, as evidenced by the chaotic reaction of the financial markets.
Throughout the general election, it was clear we had two flawed candidates, that voters were being asked to pick their poison. In the end, they chose a reshuffle and a new hand over a deck they came to believe was stacked against them.
Now, having earned the responsibility of the office, Trump must lead. Now, having deconstructed the status quo, Trump must construct a presidency worthy of this great nation and the trust that millions placed in him.
So what, exactly, did voters say in granting him this victory?
The New York billionaire has been handed a mandate to end politics as usual, although what that means is not clear. What’s clear is that voters want as much as they can get of what Trump has promised. The people are tired of the same old political players running the same old game. But they elected someone with no clear policy proposals, someone with little awareness of the daunting nuances and dangers of international geopolitics.
They want to end the corrosive influence of money in politics. They want a secure Southern border, and an end to illegal entry by noncitizens. They want, largely unrealistically, the return of a manufacturing economy that provides high-paying jobs and good benefits. And they want to repeal Obamacare and replace it, as Trump and Republicans in Congress have promised, with “something better.”
And Trump, who will likely redefine what it means to be a Republican, will have to work with GOP leaders in the Senate and the House of Representatives. They must find a reasonably clear path to deliver on some of those promises within the constraints of the Constitution, common decency and the laws of mathematics — three constraints Trump simply didn’t respect during his campaign.
It’s worrisome that many of Trump’s supporters may crave change that can’t be allowed to happen. One poll showed 7 out of 10 Trump supporters think the world of the 1950s is preferable to the current one. But that world is never coming back, nor should it. That was a time when women, minorities and gay people were treated as second-class citizens. And a return to that would not be acceptable.
There is much about Trump’s election that was disturbing even to some of his supporters. Early exit polls showed 58 percent of voters would feel concerned or scared if Trump won, meaning some of those folks, filled with trepidation, voted for him anyway. His history of dishonesty, insensitivity to women and minorities, and attacks on democratic cornerstones such as freedom of the press, trust in our courts and the honesty of our elections must be reversed.
If Trump is to have a successful presidency, he must conduct himself in a presidential manner. He must appoint knowledgeable and competent professionals. He must adopt a calm and inclusive tone. He must be a leader who cares for and represents the interests of all Americans, and maintains and promotes stability around the world.
— The editorial board