I see my liberal friends reacting to last night’s admittedly unbelievable news as if some sort of swamp creature has been elected president of the United States. I’m as surprised as they are, but I obviously underestimated the contempt that millions of Americans feel for the Left. To read the Facebook and Twitter posts of distraught Hillary supporters—and even some on the Never Trump Right—you could convince yourself that we are in fact not one country, but two.
In the first country, eight years of Barack Obama was the dawning of a new progressive era, one in which enlightened liberals would lead dim-witted Middle Americans by the nose toward a future of undiluted radical leftism, the kind that already prevails on many campuses. In that country, progress is viewed as medicine; America is the patient. The smooth handoff of power from Obama to Hillary Clinton would have been as logical as dessert following dinner. We’ve come too far to turn back now, as they like to say.
In the second country, eight years of Obama turned the United States into an unrecognizable place. No one should have been surprised by this—he promised fundamental change, after all. When residents of the first country heard residents of the second country say that they didn’t recognize America anymore, they interpreted it as racism born of changing demographics. To residents of Trump Country, though, Obama’s America was a diminished America—weaker, poorer, sicker, and no longer aiming for greatness. The Obama years were all change and no hope.
Today, the Democrats’ despair is palpable, but anyone who remembers the 2000 election and the pre-9/11 period of George W. Bush’s first term will recall a similar attitude of desolation on the left. Echoing a favorite slogan of the anti-Bush demonstrators, the hashtag #NotMyPresident is currently trending atop Twitter. So much for preelection concerns about Trump supporters refusing to accept the eventual outcome. Let the healing begin.
The Left’s fears might be misplaced, however, if Trump reverts to being the not-very-conservative figure he has often been. In this scenario, he will tax, spend, and aggressively regulate the economy, do a 180 on the Second Amendment and the abortion issue, and stop talking about border security. The United States will continue to play the role of world policeman, and Obamacare will live on. Conservatives, of course, hope that Trump will deliver on the more conservative-sounding principles on which he ran.
Trump is that rare thing in politics—a free man. He owes nothing to anyone. He comes without strings. Republican lawmakers will be at the political mercy of the man who flipped Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Florida into the GOP’s column. We know which country elected him. Time will tell which country he prefers to lead.
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