My commitment, as long as I have been writing on this 2016 presidential election, was that I was going to celebrate whoever lost on election night, and mourn whoever won, pretty much in that order, and then that my real primary care and concern was the preservation of the GOP Senate majority. I stayed up basically all night and brought in the wee hours of the morning elated, and I mean elated, that the Republican party and some of its very best conservatives won their Senate seats last night, that the United States Congress in both chambers is red, and that Hillary Clinton is not going to be the president of the United States. I am utterly shocked that Trump has won, as is every honest person in the country, and I will share more below about my posture toward this shocking and historical Trump victory.
I am not celebrating the Trump victory, because I have huge concerns about what his election will mean for the country and the conservative movement at large. But before I go deeper there, let’s be very honest about what happened last night. The Democrats nominated a God-awful candidate, with abysmal baggage, non-existent trustworthiness, and someone who represented everything this election turned out to be against — cronyism, insiderism, establishmentism, and whatever else you want to call it. The Left faces an internal crisis in the years ahead that I think will be brutal. In short, they are going to have come to terms with what they did — they nominated a totally corrupt and scandal-plagued person when almost any level of a normal, measured candidate could have won the race. And let’s be clear here — I do not mean that James Comey or Trey Gowdy or Donald Trump got to unfairly pin a corrupt label on her — I mean she is corrupt. The Left decided to ignore the content of the WikiLeaks e-mails, and I really do not know why. They showed in clear English for anyone who cared to read that she and her husband were running a Clinton Inc. enterprise that was riddled with pay-to-play, quid pro quo, and nefarious, dirty, ugly activity. Did Comey ever produce e-mails from Hillary that represent a criminal indictment? No. But can we please put to bed once and for all why those e-mails are not forthcoming? Because she deleted them. Thirty-three thousand of them. And then took bleach and hammers to the whole residual apparatus. I am the furthest thing from an alt-righter and from a conspiratorialist, but these things are not up for debate: Hillary brought the e-mail scandal on herself because she was hiding something, and you know it. If you are a liberal Democrat who hates Trump, you still know it. If you are a conservative Republican repulsed by Trump (like me), you know it. Hillary is the reason Donald Trump is the president-elect. Period.
Let’s gladly go to where some of you want me to go with this piece. I thought Hillary would beat him anyways. Yep. And based on the fact that nearly every Republican outperformed Trump in the key states he won, I’d say the data backs up the major thesis I have always had: Trump was the least likely to beat Hillary (look at how much Rubio won by in Florida and Portman in Ohio, etc.), and that was empirically and demonstrably true. Now, of course, where I and everyone else was wrong, was that Trump being the least likely candidate to defeat Hillary meant that he wouldn’t do it. He did do it. The rather remarkable string of catastrophic self-induced mistakes he made proved not to be enough to defeat him. So, I celebrate Hillary’s loss, admit I predicted wrongly on Trump’s outcome, celebrate the GOP Senate victories, and then turn now to the future.
Here are the major takeaways I have had:
(1) The concerns I have about Trump’s competence, temperament, and reliability are real and justified. That does not mean I will root for him to be incompetent, unmeasured, and unreliable. I genuinely and prayerfully hope he will surround himself with wise and intelligent people, and that his worst instincts will lose out to his best instincts, and that his genuine love of his country (which I do not question) will enable him to realize that he lacks policy gravitas, and needs men and women of experience and wisdom and conviction to advise him. I won’t spend this article telling you what I predict is going to happen. I will just say that it is a given that I am rooting for him to defy conventional wisdom and outperform expectations.
(2) I have been an outspoken, unrepentant opponent of Trump’s from day one, and that is because I have been appalled by his vulgarity, immaturity, narcissism, and instability. I can’t think of one point I have made about his business biography or personal character that is untrue. And yet, even an anti-Trumper like me found myself almost rooting for him when held up against the disgusting arrogance and smugness and elitism and foolishness of the Hollywood culture opposing him. Beyoncé and that stupid “Fight Song” video and all the idiots threatening to leave our country repulsed voters, and made people want to vote for Trump. That is a fact. They are the big losers from last night.
(3) I do not believe the polls were sinister, fixed, crooked, or evil — I believe they were just plain ole wrong. They were based on models that proved wrong. This ought to be a lesson to those who rely on flawed mathematical inputs to derive outputs of policy (I am talking to you, Keynesian central bankers). I truly do not believe the pollster class will ever recover from this. I chose to believe the polls because the vast testimony of history is that the polls are right. They were wrong here, and as Politico said this morning:
WE WERE ALL WRONG. That seems obvious, right? But we were more than wrong. We were laughably oblivious. The entire Washington political-media complex completely missed the mark. Not by inches or feet, but by miles. For a year and a half, we scoffed at those who said the polls were wrong. The polling industry is broken. We had our eyes trained on prognosticators and pundits — but they were all wrong, too. There will be plenty of time to dissect it all. The joke is on us.
(4) We had a GOP wave last night. Portman in Ohio winning huge. Rubio in Florida. Ron Johnson shocking the world to win Wisconsin and defeat career politico Russ Feingold. Evan Bayh getting sharply rebuked in Indiana as Todd Young didn’t just win, but crushed him. GOP House seats far outperforming expectations. Pat Toomey winning in Pennsylvania. But you get the idea. This was a Trumpian victory and I wouldn’t tell the Trump people any differently, but it was a GOP night through and through as all the data and results reflect.
(5) Did the Hispanic vote matter? You bet. Trump lost Nevada. He lost Colorado. He lost New Mexico. He won Arizona by a way-too-tight margin. Most of my belief that Trump could not win came from the demographic realities around this voting segment, and they proved correct. However, the other side of the equation won — could he pick up enough white working-class voters to overcompensate for the losses with Hispanics? I would have bet “no.” But he did. The wins in Wisconsin and Ohio and Pennsylvania are the difference in this race. As of press time we do not have finality in Michigan, Minnesota, or New Hampshire, but he has narrow leads in at least two of those three states as well. That is just stunning, and it quite frankly is a huge validation of the Trumpian theory I was most skeptical about — that he would put those Rust Belt states in play. He did. I was wrong. He is now president-elect. But, of course, that doesn’t change the legitimate problem with Hispanic voters that has a risk of becoming generationally bad if we do not do something about it.
(6) With all due respect to my friends on the left, the episodic cases of derangement they have waged against perfectly reasonable and credible GOP conservative leaders over the years are a huge reason why Trump won. You cannot call every single person you disagree with on perfectly reasonable issues a racist, sexist, and homophobe, and then expect people to take you seriously when a real demagogue enters the fray. The Left’s hysteria and lack of charity with those they disagree with for years has led to a credibility deficit. I find Trump’s behavior toward women and comments about Hispanics revolting, but when I see the Left say to “choose love not hate” (in opposing Trump), I think they fail to see how utterly hateful they have been toward God-fearing non-hateful sincere Americans for years. I don’t agree with the punishment, but the reality is that too many middle Americans were tired of being insulted so unfairly, and took it out on the other side by voting Trump. Legitimate disagreements need to be allowed without such hateful rhetoric from the Left. Trump should not be absolved of his rhetoric, and I have no intention of letting him off the hook into his presidency either, but leftist derangement gave us Trump. The boy (and girl) cried wolf too many times.
(7) The masterpiece book Coming Apart by Charles Murray described a sociological phenomenon that came to fruition in the electoral realm last night. These are the areas in which all of my attention is focused — how the policy prescriptions and ideas we believe in as conservatives can be applied to the segments of society most suffering, so as to create a free and virtuous society. I fear Trump has bitten off more than he or anyone can chew, because he has falsely claimed that white working-class America is suffering because of bad trade deals, as opposed to real cultural milieu. Truth be told, the Right needs to listen to the plight of working America and offer solutions; and those solutions cannot be nationalistic promises of protectionist nonsense. There is a lot more to say here.
(8) This brings me to my final point. There are three major divisions now going on in our country that are the defining situations of this age. First and foremost, rural America vs. urban America, or that sociological/cultural divide described in point seven. Secondly, the civil war on the left, which my liberal friends do not yet know how massive it is about to become. That radical progressive wing of Warren and Sanders is going to go to war with center-left moderates, and it is going to be nasty. And then the one which I believe will dictate so much of the future of American political life: The civil war on the right — the battle between populist-nationalists and idea-driven conservatives. I am well aware of the fact that Trump’s win grants the appearance that the former is winning over the latter. I am not so sure. The “across country” wave of ideological conservatives who won by much larger margins tells a different story. I am convinced of this: The winner of this battle will determine the fate of conservatism in this generation. The latter must, must, must defeat the former.
We found out last night that there is such thing as an Obama-Trump voter. Everyone wants to believe that the government can solve their problems, or that a strongman can. The Obama coalition fell apart for Hillary Clinton because she was not credible, exciting, believable, or desirable. Millennials don’t trust her. Working-class whites loathe her. And the African-American vote appears to have voted for her in expected proportions but with much lower turnout. But conservatives better admit this: Trump picked up the votes needed to win for the same asinine reason Obama initially did — novelty and messianic hope.
And that brings me to my prayer for Trump. I pray that he will forfeit all the demagoguery that defined his campaign, and transition to an ideas-based administration with competent and outstanding people ready to execute for the betterment of our country. I do not believe he will. But I do hope for it. Stuffing a protectionist trade pact down our throat will not help factory workers in Ohio who have been technologically displaced, but it will be fatal if it creates a trade war with China. There is a policy agenda that can improve the situation in America dramatically, create growth, and allow for some of the aforementioned rifts to begin to heal (point 8). And then there is his blustery, vindictive rhetoric. You must know what I am hoping for.
To those who supported Trump, congratulations. I take back absolutely nothing I have felt or said throughout this ugly and painful election season — besides my inaccurate prediction that Trump would lose. I feel compelled to write and speak what I believe the truth to be, and I have tried to faithfully do that. My ultimate responsibility is to the God whom I serve, and I feel I have been faithful to Him and to the standards of truth I believe in. The campaign is now over. Most of what I prayed for, I got (a whole separate article is coming on Prop 61’s stunning defeat!!!!!!!). I wish to be in conflict with no man — as much as it depends on me. Do I wish newly reelected Senator Marco Rubio was the one giving a presidential-acceptance speech today? You bet I do. And I frankly think it will still come.
But for today, congratulations to Team Trump, and may God Bless America.
P.S. — Did I mention Justice Scalia’s legacy may be the big winner?
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published at davidbahnsen.com.