Stunning. Astonishing. Unbelievable. Just some of the words which were used to describe Donald Trump’s come-from-behind victory over Hillary Clinton to emerge as our nation’s 45th President-to-be. This is certainly not the column I expected to be writing this week, but nevertheless, here goes.
Hillary Clinton made history by becoming the first woman nominated by a major party to run for the Office of President. And by most accounts and most polling, right up until election night, it looked like she would follow our first African-American president to become the first female president in our history. But alas, it was not to be, pushing that first off for perhaps another generation or two.
Donald Trump, a 70-year-old real estate entrepreneur and reality TV star, having never been elected to or served in any government office, came from a crowded field of 18 Republicans to capture the presidency. This year’s election gave us perhaps the two most disliked candidates put forth by any major party ever. And for many entering the voting booth on Tuesday, it was not about which candidate was better suited for the job, but rather which one they disliked least.
For those of you who know me, it’s no secret that I was not a Donald Trump supporter. But our President-Elect struck a chord with a segment of the population who were certainly fed up with the status quo, demanded change in Washington D.C., saw Mrs. Clinton as a member of the political establishment and were dreading four more years of business as usual. In Mr. Trump, a Washington outsider and billionaire, they saw hope for change, a political newbie and someone not beholden to any special interest groups. Someone who promised that things will be better again for those feeling disenfranchised by the system.
Now, I’m not going to rant and rave about the way Mr. Trump conducted his campaign, but I am going to focus on the Donald Trump of the last 10 days of the campaign and his victory speech on election night. The pivot we all had been either hoping for or waiting for certainly happened, possibly with the candidate feeling the momentum shift and the wind at his back. Trump started staying on message and acting and sounding like a presidential contender rather than the school yard bully he had been over the prior 18 months.
And in victory he was humble and gracious. A far cry from calling Mrs. Clinton “Crooked Hillary” and vowing to throw her in jail, he complimented her on her campaign and thanked her for her lifetime of public service. He went on to call for unity among Republicans, Democrats and independents and committed to working for all of us. He actually sounded presidential.
I’m sure what’s unfolded in the confines of Trump Tower has had a sobering effect on our President-Elect. I certainly hope he understands the magnitude of the job he so desperately sought and won. We’re depending on him and hoping he rises to the occasion in his quest to Make America Great Again.
So, change is upon us. The people have spoken. They demanded change and an end to business as usual, and that’s what they got. The greatness of our democracy provides for an orderly and peaceful transfer of power every time a new President is elected. In order to start that process, yesterday President Obama met with President-Elect Trump — who at one point was the de-facto leader of the movement questioning Mr. Obama’s birthplace and eligibility to serve as President — at the White House to start the transition process.
So we are in for an interesting ride, as the next four years play out under President Trump. Buckle up and let’s hope Mr. Trump grows into the job.
P.S. As it would happen, I’m writing this column on a flight from LA to San Francisco. The irony of this election cycle is playing out next to me, where an unemployed Billy Bush is sitting across the aisle from me while Donald Trump is visiting with President Obama in the Oval Office. You just can’t make this stuff up.