One of the hallmarks of American Democracy is the peaceful and respectful transfer of presidential power after the voters have had their say. On Tuesday tens of millions of Americans spoke and chose Donald Trump to be the next president of the United States.
Though the contest was ugly — and at times, unbearable to watch — it's time to, as a nation, put the vitriol of the campaign behind us and unite.
Pundits and elites are surprised by this outcome but the numbers tell the story of economic pain in the United States that led to the Trump campaign's victory and a national repudiation of the political establishment. In September, the percentage of American adults in the workforce hit a 38-year low. Just 46.6 percent of American adults have what Gallup defines as "good jobs," that is, jobs that give 30 or more hours per week for an employer who provides a regular paycheck. Trump's message resonated with those voters and so many others who felt either disenfranchised from the current system or abandoned by it.
Yet so many experts missed the sentiments of the nation. What they missed is that Trump used his rallies to connect to voters. He has barnstormed the country for more than a year talking to people impacted by the policies of Washington. He ignored the Beltway and painted himself as an outsider willing to buck the system — saying unpolished and often-times offensive things along the way.
His celebrity status along with blunt and plain-spoken rhetoric has shocked the guardians of our nation's politically correct discourse while at the same time endearing him to many voters. When the polls closed, it was clear that Trump had reset the starting point of the debate on so many issues in our country, clinching an upset victory and a favorable Washington, D.C., landscape for pushing policy.
Not only did Trump win the presidency, Republicans held the House of Representatives and the United States Senate. This also means Trump will appoint at least one Supreme Court Justice, if not multiple. (And Republicans picked up three governorships.)
Trump scored more electoral votes than any other Republican presidential nominee — including either election of President Bush — in recent memory and flipped Democratic stronghold states much like Ronald Reagan did. There is so much to criticize the Trump campaign for but his victory is nothing to scoff about.
What's important, though, is where we go from here.
President-elect Trump's first and foremost order of business will be to unite the country — especially those who did not support him and those who his rhetoric alienated — and prove that he truly will to be the "president for all Americans," as he said in his election night victory speech.
It's should come as no surprise that many Latinos, immigrants, Muslims and women are fearful of what a Trump presidency will mean for them — just scan your Facebook feed to find evidence of this. Trump has to correct this perception steadfastly. Similarly, those on the Left — critics of Trump and Republicans — ought to turn away from the divisive rhetoric of the "1 percent" and resist attempts to lump all Trump voters together as racist, misogynistic and xenophobic.
For too long, the demonization of political foes has only fueled the nation's polarization, taking a tremendous toll on America's psyche and stunting economic vigor and social progress. We need a president who won't use the platform to further tear us apart.
REPRINTED FROM THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER