I guess after tossing my two cents in at every turn throughout this past election cycle, I owe my final two cents regarding the presidential election to our readers. Of course, there will be more to come, but I’ll have to take a rain check on offering my final two cents regarding elections at the state level.
I’ll begin this by saying I was surprised on Nov. 8. I started that evening having looked at poll numbers. As the guy stood in front of his computer screen on CNN, I bought into the thought Donald Trump didn’t have much of a way to victory.
However, as the night went on, it was becoming more and more evident the pundits had been wrong. Pollsters really seemed to had messed it all up when numbers started trickling in. Having listened to them for months, I was as surprised as all the folks who were supposed to have an in-depth knowledge of how the numbers all added up.
I knew going into the night I wouldn’t exactly be happy either way. I wasn’t a Hillary Clinton fan, and I wasn’t a Trump fan.
As a life-long Republican, I needn’t explain my disdain for Clinton, but I guess I should explain my fear of Trump. Throughout the campaign, he had a difficult time staying on message. He was divisive, and he picked on just about every minority he could.
I feared his lack of experience, and I questioned his ability to make good decisions when emotions ran at their highest. I think I might have been very wrong about the orange billionaire, however.
Political campaigns are actually all about dividing. Whether it’s at the national level or the local level, you begin formulating your campaign by dividing voters into groups.
At the local level, you might note a precinct is simply too blue to waste any time on. Another precinct might be so red you have a minimal presence there in your campaign. You often attack the precincts with voters apt to swing based on their view of the individual person.
Of course, the overall picture in a place like Surry County matters too. If you are a Democrat here, you need to pull votes from those red precincts. The blue ones aren’t enough to carry you, and one must work hard to get unaffiliated voters to swing left.
It’s no different on the national level. You pick and choose where to campaign. The only point I’m making is a political campaign begins with division — with the grouping of voters into such pools as “never get ‘em,” “don’t have to work for those ones” and “need to work hard to get these folks to lean my way.”
A political campaign is divisive from the get-go. When a politician uses rhetoric to keep the second group and swing the third group, he often really upsets the first group, but he doesn’t care. He shouldn’t care, as his path to victory was never through that first group.
I’m not sure we have ever seen such an act as Donald J. Trump. There were a lot of folks in that swing category, as neither candidate was terribly likeable in the 2016 presidential election.
Donald Trump used divisive rhetoric to unite a whole bunch of groups. He did it to perfection, since he truly didn’t care what the folks who would never vote for him thought. He united evangelicals, the working class, sexists, racists, fellow top one-percenters, average folks looking for change and party hacks who loathed him.
It was an impressive act — at least I hope it was an act. I hope he doesn’t actually intend to ban an entire religion from our country, and I hope he attacks the issue of illegal immigration with more compassion than he conveyed in the campaign.
I hope he fully considers the effects of trade deals before acting, and I hope he has a plan better than Obamacare for our nation’s healthcare.
I write that I hope much of his campaign was an act, because getting elected and making it all work as president are very different roles.
To his credit, the Donald Trump who accepted the office of president seemed a very different Trump than we saw on the campaign trail. He acted and spoke downright presidential.
I truly hope the campaign trail was the act, and President Trump is going to be a uniting force. I never agreed with Trump as to his thought America wasn’t great any longer. However, there is always room to make it greater, and I hope Donald Trump does that.
I also think he has changed the face of politics. I’m not certain our founding fathers ever wanted to see career politicians, and I hope Trump has shown the path to becoming a citizen statesman, rather than a life-long political hack who reaches the pinnacle of his or her career by stepping into the Oval Office.
I hope Trump is as gracious and level-headed as he has been since the campaign concluded. It’s now time to take care of all three of those aforementioned groups, and based on his latest rhetoric, he seems to be ready to do that — ready to leave the act at the doormat of the office.
Andy is a staff writer and may be reached at 415-4698.