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Donald Trump’s Triumph

The polls and pundits were wrong: Donald Trump not only outpaced expectations, all the way to the White House, but early exit polls suggest he did better with Hispanics and other minorities than Mitt Romney did. The Obama coalition did not turn out for Hillary Clinton. And the media was blindsided by the results because it had spent over a year portraying Trump as an unelectable extremist. The one-sidedness of the prestige media—which featured as conservative and Republican voices on its op-ed pages and TV programs only anti-Trump figures such as Michael Gerson,  David Brooks, Bill Kristol, and Stuart Stevens—deluded the elites themselves about the mood of the country.

The prospect of a Clinton-Bush race 18 months ago was revolting to the American public, so much so that Republicans humiliated Jeb Bush in the primaries and awarded their nomination instead to the most anti-establishment candidate, Donald Trump. The Democrats, with some skulduggery, gave their nomination to Hillary Clinton, a figure who embodied the political establishment of the last 25-odd years. She had voted for Republican wars as well as ginning up intervention in the Libyan conflict. She was as close to the big banks as any politician in America. And she was not only the inevitable nominee of the Democratic Party, she seemed inevitably to be  the next president. But the American people disagreed, and so did Donald Trump.

Trump won on themes of overhauling our foreign policy—America doesn’t win any more, he rightly observed—and renegotiating trade deals that have failed to serve the American workforce. He wants to secure the border and ensure that immigration is lawful and limited. Trump’s words have sometimes been blunt, and his policy proposals have often been eclectic—that’s to be expected; he’s a businessman, not a professional politician or wonk. (That’s exactly what the public was not voting for.) But his broad themes have been themes that readers of The American Conservative have understood as central to the task of preserving our country and upholding the principles of a republic, not a world empire.

The hard work begins once President Trump is sworn in, of course. He’ll have to build a cabinet of other leaders with Trump-like qualities, and complementary traits, assembling a team of advisors and policy-makers who will faithfully implement his vision. Trump faces a challenge similar to the one Ronald Reagan confronted and had only partial success in overcoming: namely, that of finding enough good people to take the reins of government. Without the president discovering better new talent, the usual suspect will quickly return: the ones who gave us the Iraq War and whose economics led to the Great Recession.

As difficult as this task may be, the first step, ridding America of the political dynasties that have ruled it for the better part of two decades, has been accomplished, and now the next battles can be fought—and, if Trump sticks to the themes that got him elected, won. This is an historic hour, and America has possibilities anew—possibilities that would have been forever precluded by an endless succession of Bushes and Clintons.

Daniel McCarthy is the editor of The American Conservative.

26 Comments (Open | Close)

26 Comments To "Donald Trump’s Triumph"

#1 Comment By cka2nd On November 9, 2016 @ 3:56 am

The worst thing that Trump could do is follow the advice of some of the right-wing pundits on Fox and reach out to the conservative establishment figures whose policies he, and the electorate, rejected. Staffing his administration with neo-cons, economic royalists who want to cut the capital gains tax and implement a national sales tax, Social Security-privatizers and free traders will be his undoing. Hell, if he were to follow through on his previous statements in favor of a single payer health care system, he could grab many of the Sanders voters who stayed home or held their noses to vote for Clinton.

I do hope that the Sandernistas give the Clintonites in the party, the media and the “movements” a great big double middle finger, especially those who race- and sex-baited them for trying to focus on class issues.

One caveat: Things could, and SHOULD, get very sticky indeed if credible reports come out of mass voter suppression and/or intimidation. If Trump and the GOP stole the Presidency and the Senate, Clinton’s defeat and the thumb in the eye of the ruling class will be tarnished.

#2 Comment By Fran Macadam On November 9, 2016 @ 4:24 am

For several days, I held on to my mail-in ballot, reluctant to actually vote for Donald Trump. But the specter of more years of a deplorable basket of destructive establishment policies became intolerable to assent to. In the end I voted for my neighbors, my fellow Americans – which amounted to the same thing. I guess, unexpectedly, a lot of them felt the same way about me. It was never about Trump, it was about us.

Donald, bring our jobs back, stop the wars.

#3 Comment By HP On November 9, 2016 @ 4:52 am

Let’s hope you are right and that Trump will prove to be better as a president than as a human being. Seen from this side of the Atlantic however, it looks as if the US has just changed hemisphere.

#4 Comment By Publius On November 9, 2016 @ 8:29 am

Called it.

Bear in mind that a lot of Americans are feeling down this morning, and probably feeling as we felt in 2008 and 2012 when our fellow Americans voted for the inexperienced ideologue Obama. They are that crushed, so magnanimity is called for.

But then, let’s get to work. We have both houses now, and there is a LOT of stable that needs cleaning.

#5 Comment By Kurt Gayle On November 9, 2016 @ 8:32 am

Well said.

Today is a new beginning!

#6 Comment By PAXNOW On November 9, 2016 @ 9:25 am

He won based on putting America first, second, and nth. That means peace, controlled immigration, not being directed by a foreign power and its lobby, and less stifling regulations on trade and commerce, while ensuring the well being of our fragile environment, and while he is at it; figuring out how to unbundle the Federal Reserve from the issuance of our currency and its other odious activities. .

#7 Comment By Johann On November 9, 2016 @ 9:32 am

As happy as I am that the least bad candidate won, I’m disturbed that the Republicans have both houses of Congress and the Presidency. Its never a good thing when one party has it all. Spending always goes way up with no checks and balances. And I’m saying this as one who has never voted Democrat and probably never will. Its never good for a government not to have a viable opposition.

#8 Comment By EliteCommInc. On November 9, 2016 @ 9:33 am

“And the media was blindsided by the results because it had spent over a year portraying Trump as an unelectable extremist.”

And this has been one of the most disappointing aspects of news journalism. As a comm major, I was required to take courses in journalism. And one of the concepts and expectation drilled in every course whether it was news writing or statistics was the sacred trust that reporting embodies. That it was a cornerstone of democracy, so vital a role it was the “fourth estate.”

Our various war adventures have done damage serious damage to the ethic, but nothing has been more egregious than the reporting of the primaries and the election process.

If you grew up watching the networks, news a mandatory breakfast and dinner time event. I fully comprehend that one has to pay the rent and the internet and cable has created serious pressure on that enterprise, but what we have witnessed in the last year and a half is a collapse of any trust in reporting by the national press corps. And it will have serious repercussions for our future.

It will take more than mea culpas to redress the matter.

Congratulations to Mr. Trump, his family and his campaign. Well deserved win.

#9 Comment By Michael Powe On November 9, 2016 @ 9:38 am

Yes, he promised to deport 11 million Hispanics, restrict free speech (“the First Amendment allows too much free speech,” he told a reporter), institute trade protectionism, give tax breaks to the wealthy, impose a religious litmus test on immigrants, abandon our allies, and appoint supreme court justices who will expand voter suppression, and deny access to justice of those not wealthy, deny access to good education to those who can’t pay for it. These were his campaign promises.

The Economist said it best.

“The best that can be said of Mr Trump is that his candidacy is a symptom of the popular desire for a political revival. Every outrage and every broken taboo is taken as evidence that he would break the system in order that, overseen by a properly conservative Supreme Court, those who come after him might put something better in its place.

This presidential election matters more than most because of the sheer recklessness of that scheme. It draws upon the belief that the complexity of Washington is smoke and mirrors designed to bamboozle the ordinary citizen; and that the more you know, the less you can be trusted. To hope that any good can come from Mr Trump’s wrecking job reflects a narcissistic belief that compromise in politics is a dirty word and a foolhardy confidence that, after a spell of chaos and demolition, you can magically unite the nation and fix what is wrong.”

Now, the party that long has condemned “social engineering” by government embarks on the greatest social engineering exercise of power in the history of American government. Purging brown-skinned citizens, promoting government regulation of speech, cutting loose those dependent on Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, restricting the vote.

You’ve temporarily restored the hegemony of white supremacists. But the demographics are against you. This is your last gasp. By the time my brown-skinned teen daughters are middle-aged, they will be treating your white-skinned daughters the way you’re treating them now.

That’s as it should be. When you play the race card, you should expect it to played against you when the deck is reshuffled.

#10 Comment By Fred Bowman On November 9, 2016 @ 10:26 am

Well one thing that Trump has over Reagan is that Trump has no problem at all telling someone “You’re Fired” if they don’t perform their job as expected. I suspect Trump will be a very “hands on” President.

#11 Comment By Home On The Range On November 9, 2016 @ 10:46 am

“Trump faces a challenge similar to the one Ronald Reagan confronted and had only partial success in overcoming: namely, that of finding enough good people to take the reins of government.”


Keeping out neocons, Wall Street globalists and other undesirables and replacing them with some of the many smart, capable “real Americans” out there who are ready to go about the work of fixing the country.

#12 Comment By KD On November 9, 2016 @ 1:57 pm

I for one hope that Trump reaches across the island for some people he could work with, such as Jim Webb. In addition, you have people like George Borjas and John Mearsheimer who could get you in the right direction on the economy and foreign policy.

#13 Comment By JonF On November 9, 2016 @ 3:29 pm

Re: The worst thing that Trump could do is follow the advice of some of the right-wing pundits on Fox and reach out to the conservative establishment figures whose policies he, and the electorate, rejected.

It’s one thing to run as an outsider, it’s another to try to govern as one. Jimmy Carter tried to square that circle– and the result was, well, not much. If Trump decides he is some sort of grand high poobah who doesn’t need political allies to get things done, then he won’t get things done.

#14 Comment By Kid Charlemagne On November 9, 2016 @ 3:38 pm

What new era? With nearly all incumbents returned and the likes of Gingrich, Giuliani and Ryan and Mitch McConnell etc etc all set to form the new administration? Is this wishful thinking or what? Let’s take a wager – what you will get are tax cuts and very little else.

#15 Comment By collin On November 9, 2016 @ 4:10 pm

He’ll have to build a cabinet of other leaders with Trump-like qualities, and complementary traits, assembling a team of advisors and policy-makers who will faithfully implement his vision.

What vision? He is going to let Ryan ad Pence run things while every once a while they will throw his supporters a Wall and some deportation bones to keep his supporters satisfied! I bet NAFTA remains by 2020 with an odd concession or two.. Donald Trump is signaling that he wants to appoint his campaign finance chairman, Steven Mnuchin, as Treasury secretary, according to a person close to the campaign. So much for reining in the BIG BANKS!!!!

#16 Comment By collin On November 9, 2016 @ 4:15 pm

Even money Donald Trump makes Tom Bolton his Secretary of State who will give him his Iran bombing plans every week.

#17 Comment By Jim On November 9, 2016 @ 7:50 pm

I still feel like this was more about the daily discourse than any complicated policy that no one really understands.

Trump was out there tossing shade at tangible villains, while the Left was talking about, well, whatever the outrage of the day was on social media. Probably attacking Twitter accounts with 10 followers for expressing their distaste with Colin Kaepernick.

The left has been moving us more toward being a stigma culture. It’s at direct odds with our almost mythical ethos of second chances and forgiveness.

I’m glad we put off the transition at least a little while longer.

#18 Comment By Dr. Diprospan On November 9, 2016 @ 10:43 pm

It was the most intense and colorful competition in my memory.
I will not hide the fact that people in Russia reacted to the victory of Donald Trump in the presidential elections positively, with the hope of improving relations between the two countries.
Russian Parliament met the news of the victory of Donald Trump with applause.
It seemed to me that America truly caught request for strong leaders in the world and decided to lead that trend. It was amazing to see how strong faith and will of the people and their leader changes the history before our very eyes.
But the main purpose for Donald Trump is the revival of the Great America. The election for president is only the first step towards this goal.
We wish him great patience, great health and great assistants on the way to that goal.
Sincere congratulations to all who believe in the Great America!

#19 Comment By swampwiz On November 10, 2016 @ 3:31 am

I don’t see Trump being quite as hands-on as a lot of folks think, but rather someone who will come to some policy decision and tell his underling to “get ‘er done”. And ironically, I think that he will try to be Clintonesque & Obamaesque in seeking consensus on the other side on a lot of issues (immigration and keeping the Muslims out obviously not one of them). The first big test is what happens when the Republican ObamaRomneyHeritageCare replacement bill gets drafted and gets its first really close inspection and the Democrats spray with automatic gunfire on every little part that is politically unpopular – which I think the main one will be the sneaky way that the mandate is being substituted with “guaranteed issue up until you miss a premium payment”.

#20 Comment By Janeil Hayden On November 10, 2016 @ 10:54 pm

Trump will look to aggressively implement his policies with a cadre of more experienced advisors. What will happen to him is what happened to Obama and other inexperienced Presidents in the past. Obama realized he couldn’t just put in the troops and pass all of his legislation in the first 100 days. So too will Trump realize he will have to “negotiate” for the best. As long as he’s putting America first, and taking on issues that have rotted indefinitely in Washington, things will improve.

#21 Comment By William Burns On November 12, 2016 @ 10:13 am

Well, the American people, those who actually bothered to vote that is, actually chose Hillary Clinton. And the personnel surrounding Trump so far are the usual mixture of lobbyists and Republican party hacks. In terms of policy, Trump’s administration is looking like a standard Republican tax cuts/deregulation/war administration.

#22 Comment By EliteCommInc. On November 12, 2016 @ 8:47 pm

“It’s one thing to run as an outsider, it’s another to try to govern as one.”

That depends on the issues.

On the issue of foreign policy — the insiders have their hurdle — the US public’s disdain for intervention regardless of where they sit in the aisle.

That is a rare leverage that would press against even the most loved of insiders. This election has in my view shattered the bubble in which insiders have been operating for the last twenty years.

#23 Comment By Sam On January 10, 2017 @ 11:44 pm

It is sad that an intelligent, articulate President be replaced by a self professed lying sexual predator who doesn’t use his frontal lobe.

#24 Comment By Florence On June 29, 2017 @ 5:03 pm

So how’s it going with Trump? Has he made you proud? And America great? Not to worry–3+ more years.

#25 Comment By Thomas Kaempfen On December 26, 2017 @ 9:46 am

This post hasn’t age well, has it.

#26 Comment By Jack Bechtold On August 12, 2018 @ 5:32 pm

Thank heaven it is only two and one half years until the liar-in-chief is gone. Lets hope the country will endure.