Michelle Cottle explains why anti-Trump America has to come to terms with the fact that Trump won not because he bamboozled anybody, but because American democracy produced him fair and square. Excerpts:
While no one wins the White House on the cheap, Trump was not the candidate of big-money donors–or big-money period. His Republican opponents (along with some highly motivated super PACs) spent vastly more than he did in the primaries. And while Trump happily sucked up to billionaires like Robert and Rebekah Mercer for help in the general, his money machine was nothing compared to Clinton’s. Plenty of GOP money-men opted to sit out this presidential battle and channel their money into down ballot races.
Nor did Trump rely on saturation TV advertising or obsessive polling or cutting-edge data analytics. In fact, he gave the finger to high-priced strategists, ad-men, pollsters, and all those other shifty political pros that churn out the slick, poll-tested candidates that Americans love to hate. (For a scathing look at the entire consulting class, see Molly Ball’s piece from October. ) Just ask Jeb Bush (or Marco Rubio or Ted Cruz) whether the red team’s crack strategists were worth the money this cycle.
Trump did not win the endorsements of powerful media outlets or sparkly celebrities–or much of anyone for that matter. And more than any race in modern memory, his election was a victory of the grassroots over the political establishment. Forget the DNC’s minor machinations in boosting Clinton over Bernie Sanders; arguably never have a party’s leaders been as intent on derailing the chosen champion of the base as the GOP was when it came to Trump. Even those who, out of either cowardice or team loyalty, didn’t outright reject Trump made it clear they were holding their noses where he was concerned. (Looking at you, Paul Ryan.)
As for the substance of the election: The media exerted little to no control over Trump’s messaging. This is not to say that political journalists gave him a free ride. Especially as the race wore on, reporters dug into the endless controversies swirling around the nominee and kept a spotlight on his steady stream of verbal atrocities. But from the 30,000-foot perspective, Trump worked the media, both social and traditional, like the master carnival barker he is. He followed a direct-to-consumer sales model—his true nature graphically on display–kicking the usual middle-men to the curb.
Read the whole thing. If you don’t know her work, Cottle is a liberal, and the last thing from a Trump defender you would expect. But she’s honest here. Given the facts she details, if Trump were a man of the left, he would be hailed by the media as a hero who fired his photon torpedoes right into the Empire’s thermal exhaust port for the win.
I find the insistence of many liberals now that Clinton won the popular vote to be annoying. Yeah, she did, and maybe the Electoral College needs scrapping, I dunno. The much more important point is that Hillary Clinton, the very embodiment of Establishment Washington, lost the presidency to Donald Trump. Donald Trump! That’s a message that shakes both the Democratic Party and the establishment of the Republican Party to their cores. Whether you like Trump or not, you have to admit that his was a breathtaking achievement.