Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Trump + 1

Five years ago was one the lowest nights of my life. It was the night that Barack Obama was re-elected President of the United States.

This is what I wrote on the day following that night in "Choices Have Consequences". You can almost feel my anguish in reading the words today.

The results of yesterday's election clearly show that we are in The Fourth Turning. History is not made by events but by the reaction of human beings to events.  We saw clear evidence of that yesterday.  We are hurtling down the road for a rendezvous with history of our own making.  Two clearly marked paths were there for choosing.  The American people made their choice.  We all will have to deal with where it leads.
I have many new readers over the last two weeks as interest in the election approached. Many of you probably did not see my post, "How Can There Be Hope When There Is No Change?".  This still accurately captures my biggest concerns about where we are going from here. Like it or not, this is where we are.  We have no choice but to move FORWARD.  That is what President Obama promised.  We will now see where he is leading us.
In many ways I think we exhibit the traits of an addict.  Our drug of choice is government spending and dependency.  Unfortunately, like most addicts, we may have to totally hit bottom before we come to our senses and begin recovery.  As we know, the sad truth is that as the addict spirals downward they also hurt many innocent people around them on that path.
It did not have to be this way.  It still doesn't have to be this way.  However, this seems to be the path we have chosen right now.  We have turned our backs on the warnings. We have failed to listen, somehow thinking that our addiction will not lead to our ultimate downfall.  
Choices have consequences.  We will learn what they are together.  For better or worse. Our only hope now is that the President we elected yesterday is not the same leader we had for the last four years.

Where did that path lead?

"I know how you feel."
Credit: Getty Images/People Magazine

It led to the election of Donald J. Trump as President of the United States. There is no doubt in my mind that Trump would never have been elected President if Obama had not held office. He also likely would not have won if Hillary Clinton had not been the Democrat nominee.

It all resulted in that night one year ago that marked one of the greatest nights in my life. I was close to giving up after the last eight years. I was close to thinking that America had reached the point of no return---that we had reached the tipping point and gone over the abyss.

I can't tell you how much it meant to me to find out one year ago that there were 63 million other American voters who were not ready to give up on the American dream.

"I know how you feel."
Credit: Getty Images/AM New York

The post below is what I wrote on the morning after that great night which I titled, "Shock and Awe".

I think it bears reading again.

A year later I reflect often on what happened and it is still difficult for me to not be in awe.

I was on record early in the campaign that I thought that Trump had a winning message. I wrote this in July, 2015 in a blog post titled, "Will Trump Be A Trumpet Call To The GOP?".

There is a substantial part of the electorate that are fed up with Washington, politics as usual, and political correctness. They are tired of our borders being overrun with illegal immigration while nothing is done by either the Republicans or Democrats. They are tired of the United States being the world's policeman and getting spit in the face. They are tired of seeing every trade agreement resulting in job losses for Americans. They are tired of seeing Islamic extremism being called workplace violence or the acts of lost souls. They are tired of lousy laws and terrible treaties being sold as "good as we can get."
What will be most interesting to me is whether the message survives even if the messenger does not.

Although I believed it was a winning message, I did not think Trump could survive the media and establishment gauntlet he would have to endure to become President. At that time, and continuing through much of the primary season, I simply did not think Trump could withstand the attacks that would come his way in order to win the general election.

However, the more I saw him take those attacks, dish out his own and turn out the crowds he was getting on the campaign trail, it appeared to me that something bigger was in play.

How else do you explain how a candidate could withstand the fallout from the Access Hollywood tape one month before the election?

How else do you explain how a candidate could be outspent 2:1 (Hillary spent $1.2 billion) and win?

How else do you explain how a candidate could withstand media coverage that was 91% negative during the course of the entire campaign?

How else do you explain how a candidate could be opposed by a significant number of influential people in his own party (NeverTrumpers) and still win. In fact, former President George H.W. disclosed this week that he voted for Hillary.

How else do you explain how Trump won my home state of Ohio when the GOP Governor (Kasich) openly opposed him, the GOP State Chairman offered no support and the GOP U.S. Senator (Portman) withdrew his support after the Access Hollywood news?

Let's put that in context.

Bill Clinton won the state in 1992 and 1996.
George W. Bush won the state in 2000 by 3.5%.
George W. Bush won the state in 2004 by 2.1%.
Barack Obama won the state in 2008 over John McCain by 4.6%.
Barack Obama won the state in 2012 over Mitt Romney by 3.0%.

Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton by 8.5%!

(If you are interested, I did an in-depth analysis on how the Ohio vote swung to Trump last December here.)

The election of Donald Trump cannot be explained by looking at any traditional measures of politics.

This is what makes it so hard for politicians to understand what is happening.

What do we know a year later?

Trump reshaped the Republican party but the Republicans in Washington still appear to not have gotten the message. Many keep saying that Trump does not represent "their" Party.

I wrote last year in the run up to the election that if Trump won he would define the Republican Party. This is something that the Republican Establishment still does not seem to recognize and accept. The voters make the call on what "their" party stands for and who represents them. It is not the politicians who decide. Those that do not understand this fact will not survive in office.

Perhaps it is slowing starting to  dawn on them. What else can you conclude by looking at the loss by Luther Strange in Alabama along with Corker in Tennessee and Flake in Arizona choosing to not run for re-election (after looking at the polls).

What else do we know a year later?

The liberal left and the mainstream media still have a lot to learn about civility and respect.

They continue to show little respect for my views and they certainly show no respect to the President. It is as if they still do not believe those 63 millions votes spread among majorities in 30 states.

People ask me if I am happy with Trump. I like the big picture and the contrast with Obama's agenda. However, I don't like the drama and the distractions. My main gripe is that Trump has not stayed on message enough. He has been too accommodative and deferential with Congress at times. He is also letting the bureaucrats in Washington undermine his goals at many of the agencies that are supposed to be part of the Executive Branch.

I stated a year ago that Trump had a monumental challenge ahead. He is surrounded on three of four sides--the Democrats, the media and the Republican establishment. His only reliable allies are the people that voted for him. If he is to succeed he needs to always keep that in mind. It is the only way forward for a man stuck in the middle of a swamp and surrounded on three sides.

Of course, if I look at everything that has put Donald Trump where he is today, it is almost impossible to conclude that he does not have someone else on his side. You can be surrounded on all four sides and survive if He is with you. It is hard to look at what has happened with Trump and not at least consider that as an explanation for that which should otherwise be unexplainable.

Shock and Awe
(originally published November 9, 2016)

Donald Trump has shocked the political and media establishment and has left liberal Democrats in utter shock and disbelief.

I know where they are coming from. I was in a similar place four years ago.

This tweet from Michele sums up a lot of what some of those on the left are feeling today.  I must say it is not dissimilar to how I felt exactly four years ago.

I felt similarly about getting out of bed every morning, going to work, paying my taxes, obeying the laws, respecting my country and being a man of Christian faith when half the country did not seem to care or respect my rights, our laws, our constitution or my contributions to my country and the public welfare.

Did the left care about me? Not in the slightest. They did not give me a second thought. I will not be that way. I understand and empathize with what they are going through. I hope that this experience will give them a little more perspective and respect for my views.

I am not a racist because I do not like Barack Obama's policies.

I am not sexist because I think Hillary Clinton was corrupt.

I am not xenophobic because I believe that a nation must have borders and its leaders should obey and enforce the rule of law.

I am not homophobic because I believe in the sanctity of marriage between one man and one woman or that men and women should use the proper rest room.

I am not Islamaphobic because I believe that we should have a very careful and stringent vetting test on any immigration from known terrorist countries which might undermine our national security.

I am not an obstructionist because I believe that the Constitution means something. If you don't like something, pass a law or amend the Constitution, don't use executive orders and the judicial system to subvert the rule of law.

If we learned anything last night it is that the people of the United States have the ultimate sovereign power on what kind of country they want to have. Every member of the House of Representatives must stand for re-election every two years. The President stands for election every four years and can serve no more than two terms. Terms for each Senator are only six years. The people have the power to literally turn the country on its head if they want.

We have seen the effects of that over the last eight years. The people have turned it on its head.

When Barack Obama passed Obamacare in his first term he had a 60-40 majority in the Senate and 258-177 majority in the House. Donald Trump will take office with what looks to be a 52-48 GOP majority in the Senate and somewhere close to a 240-195 majority in the House.

This is the legacy of Barack Obama. He has taken overwhelming majorities in the Senate and House and provided the Republicans meaningful majorities in both houses of Congress and the Presidency for the first time since 1928!  This did not happen because voters were happy with the policies of Barack Obama.

It also did not happen because Republicans or others who voted these people into office are racists as some of the liberals on the left want you to believe.

For example, in South Carolina last night, Donald Trump won South Carolina with a 14.1% voting margin. Tim Scott, the African-American Senator from South Carolina won his race with a 23.5% victory margin. Where is the racism when you look at the numbers? The black candidate outpolled the white guy in a deep Southern state.

So much for the shock.

What about the awe?

Awe is the only word I can use to describe what Donald Trump has accomplished.

He took on the Republican establishment when he first got into the primaries. He then took on the Democrats. Finally, he withstood the media elite who conspired against him and he ultimately completely confounded them all.

He had very few of any consequence on his side. In the end, the only thing he had on his side were the people, And in America, that is all that you need.

It is the most amazing accomplishment that I have seen in six decades of closely watching politics.

And it was not luck that propelled Trump to victory.

As Paul Ryan said today, "Donald Trump heard a voice out in this country that no one else heard. He connected with—he connected in ways with people no one else did. He turned politics on its head.”

Trump also did it through old-fashioned hard work. I don't believe I have ever seen a national candidate work harder on the campaign trail. His schedule down the stretch was herculean. If nothing else he showed he has the energy and enthusiasm to work for the American people.

In the process he has reshaped the Republican party. Make no mistake, it is his party now. It also positions the Republicans to become the party that has the potential "to end the long partisan tug-of-war, ending the era of split government that had lasted through four decades" and be the majority party for a generation according to the predictions of Howe and Strauss in "The Fourth Turning."

I don't know if the Republicans can do it. However, I do know that Obama and the Democrats were positioned to do it with their majorities eight years ago and squandered the opportunity.

If Trump ends up doing that, I will truly be in awe.

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