As the exhausted, miserable people on my television reported that Secretary Clinton had conceded the election by phone and our new president elect addressed his constituents for the first time after the political upset of an American generation, I sat up in my bed, quietly trying to digest what just happened. My wife, a woman of Mexican descent, a mother to a special needs child and a military wife who suffered through three wartime deployments nodded off in disgust a few hours earlier. I’ve already started to make my peace with it though.
I’ve been about as vocal a critic of Donald Trump as anyone you’ll find. I can’t and wouldn’t revise anything I’ve said about him. But I make it a point to stay objective about things. And to deliver a level headed clear-eyed assessment of things that matter. And right now, before I make that peace, I’ve got to account for a few things that I know now, that I didn’t know four hours ago.
So here goes…
-Donald J. Trump is the most effective political marketing machine of our time. It’s not close.
-Crowds mean more than polls. In retrospect, that makes sense. But I was stone cold dead wrong on it.
-There’s still enough white working class men out there that if you make an election a referendum on their value as a part of America, you better have them on your side.
-No one gives a rip about third party candidates. No matter how much more qualified they are.
-Many white men-and women-are more comfortable with the idea of a black man being president than a woman.
-Hillary Clinton is un-electable.
-The message of change is the only one that matters.
-The people still choose the president.
-This actually wasn’t close. (Trump won every contested state)
-We know nothing. (I actually knew that one already.)
Tomorrow, in a few hours, the sun will come up in America as it has for centuries. And things will go on uninterrupted. We’ll get the kids off to school. I’ll sit in traffic forever and I’ll think about a few things. I’ll think about what it all means and about what’s going to change about what it tells us about ourselves as a people. I’ll think about what to tell my kids about our president. Big problems. Big thoughts. Big questions.
There’s one other thing worth noting though. For the first time in my life, Donald J. Trump and I are on the same team. And I don’t know what to do with that other than hope like hell that he’s the best God damn president of my lifetime. Because there were dark and frightening powers that helped this come together for our new president elect. But there were also good and decent people who believed that this was their best option to drive change in our political process. And the only way that we get through this in one piece is for those good and decent people to help hold our new leader accountable for delivering on what they saw in his message-a change for the better from the political status quo.
Democracy…warts and all.