A lot of us are pinching ourselves today over the stunning news that Donald J. Trump has been elected the 45th President of the United States.
Some of us are pinching ourselves because we thought Hillary Rodham Clinton was the odds-on favorite to make history as the first woman to ever become president.
Few of us in the media who watched Trump punch, bob and weave through the primary and then outfox all of the pollsters, pundits and most of the press during the general election ever imagined that he would be the one to make history. Trump is the first president elected without previous government or military experience.
The business tycoon and reality TV star proved more prescient than any of his opponents “in the establishment” along the way –– and absolutely more tuned in to what a majority of voters wanted in their next president.
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But let’s not sugarcoat this. If Trump thought running for president was tough –– during his acceptance speech early this morning he said, “This political stuff is nasty and it’s tough” –– he hasn’t seen anything yet.
He and his opponent, Clinton, were the most unpopular presidential candidates in modern history. Nearly 80 percent of voters expressed dissatisfaction with the choices before them. The billows of acrimony released during an often ugly 18-month campaign still linger.
Trump may have won the White House but he assumes leadership in a sharply divided country. After taking a concession telephone call from Clinton –– who must have been crushed by her shocking defeat –– the Enigma-In-Chief gave a gracious acceptance speech in subdued, almost humble tones.
“It is time to come together as one united people. It is time,” he said. “I pledge I will be president for all Americans. And this is so important to me.”
That will come as breaking news to the many Americans he disparaged for their ethnic heritage or gender, insulting them often during his campaign. It will be interesting to see how he makes good on this new promise of a United States that serves all, champions all and “deals fairly with all Americans.”
He’ll have work to do to convince Wall Street, Main Street and our allies that he is everything he advertised –– all of this while attempting to erase the images and allegations of misbehavior toward women.
That said, we have turned a political page, America. There can be no doubt Trump has a gift for identifying and addressing the needy and overlooked Americans from the Sun Belt to the Rust Belt.
Trump dispatched 16 opponents in the GOP primary and then one of the most seasoned and crafty political families in American politics in the Clintons.
He did this without ever sharing his tax returns or who he does business with in foreign countries. Without ever apologizing for any missteps. Without ever revealing who he really is to most of his 325 million citizens.
Sometimes this is how we do it in America.