Donald Trump is the President-Elect. How did this happen and where do we go from here?
First of all, I'm not a Trump supporter. I voted third party in this election because I didn't believe either major party candidate would be a good president. If I'd had to choose between the two, I would have narrowly supported Trump because I'm a small government conservative with libertarian leanings and Trump's platform came closest to representing me politically. Fortunately, I live in a non-swing state, so I was able to vote my preference without worrying about "wasting" my vote.
(As an aside, the only "wasted" vote is the one that is not cast. I'm looking at New Hampshire as I write this and right now, with 99.67 percent of votes counted, less than 1,500 votes separate the two candidates.)
Every vote, whether for a major party or third party, counts. There are around 200 million eligible voters in the U.S. and 150 million are registered. Of that total, we have about 120 million votes cast.
And that's the first piece of good news. Americans engaged in this election. Turnout is going to be around 60 percent. Since 1996, participation in the electoral process has been increasing and this election continues that trend.
I saw a couple of things last night that impressed me and gave me some hope for an effective Trump presidency:
1. Secretary Clinton conceded at 3 AM, even before major media outlets called Pennsylvania and the election. Instead of putting the country through another torturous round of lawsuits and recounts and Supreme Court challenges, she recognized that the time had come, and she conceded. It was a classy move, a move that showed her statesmanship in a way that has not been evident throughout her career.
2. Trump's victory speech was unlike anything I've heard him give in the past. It was toned down, stripped down, humble, grateful, and was built around the idea of inclusion. He stressed that he would work for all Americans. He thanked so many people it began to sound like an Academy Award speech. He showed a warm, human side of himself that has been kept well-hidden throughout the campaign.
It's ironic that both candidates showed a better side of themselves after the campaign, but it does give me some hope that Trump will not be as bad as I feared. The way this campaign ended — without hubris, pride and ego — sets the stage for some long overdue healing.
But we, the people, must do our part. It's time to end the hate and fear coming from both sides of the political divide. We've got to stop looking at each other as the enemy.
I've already seen posts decrying the election, saying that America is misogynist and racist for electing Trump. I fully expect that if Secretary Clinton had won, we'd hear accusations from the right that America votes for criminals and liars. Neither statement is true.
Trump wasn't elected because he said hateful things. He was elected because more people felt that the alternative was worse. And people who voted for Clinton did not do so because of the things she's done; they voted for her because they were more afraid of Trump than concerned about her issues.
Both groups voted out of hope, and no small degree of fear. Let's focus on the hope and get rid of the fear. Let's recognize that voters on both sides did what they thought would be best for the country. Let's reset the dialogue. President-Elect Trump last night reached out to America. We should reach out to each other as well.
Yesterday, before the returns started coming in, several of my liberal and moderate friends were posting on Facebook, saying “Keep calm, don't panic. The country will not end with this election.” Of course, most of them were relying on media polls and fully expected Secretary Clinton to win going away.
Now that things have gone the other way, I want to remind them of their words, not in a mean way but in hope, because they were right. The U.S. will not crumble under Trump. He will not destroy everything we stand for because the people who elected him will not let him.
Their vote was not to allow a man to turn the presidency into a dictatorship; their vote was to reign in a federal government that has grown far beyond comfortable bounds. As someone posted the other day, if we are afraid of anyone becoming president it's an indication that the president has too much power.
Remember, he won the election based on the support of small government voters and conservatives. We have a long history of resisting governmental overreaches, regardless of the person pushing them. We've spent the last eight years opposing what we consider to be executive overreaches coming from the Obama administration. There's no way we'll sit back and allow the same actions from Donald Trump.
Here's some more good news: This election was a rejection of a specific candidate, not a gender. America is ready for a female president, just not this one. Secretary Clinton was a flawed candidate from the beginning. She had strong negative perceptions holding her back before the campaign even began.
A stronger candidate will succeed. She may come from either party but she will come, and as Secretary Clinton said in her concession speech, she may come sooner than we think.
Now, if you still feel angry and betrayed, allow me to suggest an appropriate target for your anger. The election prediction of the New York Times started before the returns were counted, up to about 1 AM. They started in the afternoon giving Secretary Clinton an 80 percent chance to win.
How did they get it so wrong? How could the predictions of pollsters and pundits be so far from reality?
The answer is two-fold. The majority of reporters and editors are registered Democrats. The problem with that is not their politics, but that they live and work in an isolated bubble. All the feedback they get is from people who believe similarly to themselves. They develop an echo chamber mentality that can affect their objectivity.
A couple of weeks before the election, I saw an article that mentioned that while media-sponsored polls showed a clear Clinton victory, non-media affiliated polls showed a very tight race, with Trump coming out on top.
The other part of the answer is more insidious. From Wiki Leaks, we know that portions of the major media coordinated with the Clinton campaign. This isn't a matter of speculation or conspiracy theories; we know it happened.
It's not hard to imagine that a group that gave Clinton debate questions beforehand and that deliberately timed the release of news stories for maximum negative impact on her opponent would slant news stories and manipulate polling data to support a narrative.
Regardless of whether it was intentional or unconscious, the fact remains that portions of our media were, to some extent, working with a presidential campaign. This is incredibly dangerous and destructive to our government and our society.
The media should never be a tool of the government; it is supposed to be the watchdog, holding government accountable to the people. One more benefit of a Trump presidency is that the media will once again do its job.
So, at the end of the day, whether we were on the left, the right, or independent, there are some things we can look forward to with hope. Every election is a fresh chance to start again. Whether your candidate won or lost (mine didn't get a single electoral vote), this new season gives us a chance to come together.
Let's take advantage of that. If you liked Trump, don't gloat. If you liked Hillary, don't hate. I'm more hopeful than I was last night. I hope that feeling spreads.