Erstwhile real estate mogul and TV reality star Donald Trump not only takes Manhattan – by surprise – but the rest of America as well, becoming the nation’s 45th president following a neck-and-neck race as Republican Party presidential nominee against Democratic Party rival, Hillary Clinton.
In a campaign characterized by populistic ranting and polarizing rhetoric, the larger-than-life 70-year old thrice-married billionaire Manhattanite challenged the institutions and long-held ideals of American democracy, as described by the New York Times, achieving a stunning victory.
The surprise outcome, which defied polls showing Hillary Clinton in the lead, has sent shockwaves throughout the financial markets as well as the establishment forces that had assembled against Trump, while the world watched in suspended disbelief as Trump’s campaign message to and overtures towards blue-collar white and working-class America took hold.
The election results are interpreted not merely a repudiation of Mrs. Clinton, but of President Obama as well, whose legacy is in peril. The outcome was a message from those who had been underestimated and overlooked both by Clinton, the establishment and the media — by those who felt the American dream had eluded them following decades of globalism, liberalism and multiculturalism — but had not been passed over by Trump. “The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer,” Mr. Trump told cheering supporters around 3 a.m. on Wednesday at New York City rally shortly after Hillary Clinton called to concede. “Now it’s time for America to bind the wounds of division. It is time for us to come together as one united people. It’s time.”
From the beginning of a campaign punctuated with outrageous claims, ranging from sexist to racist to absurdist – such as, for instance, that Mexican immigrants are criminals and racists – Trump was underestimated as a candidate, both by his opponents for the Republican nomination and later by Hillary Clinton, his Democratic rival.
“Mr. Trump’s unfiltered rallies and unshakable self-regard attracted a zealous following, fusing unsubtle identity politics with an economic populism that often defied party doctrine. His rallies — furious, entertaining, heavy on name-calling and nationalist overtones — became the nexus of a political movement, with daily promises of sweeping victory, in the election and otherwise, and an insistence that the country’s political machinery was “rigged” against Mr. Trump and those who admired him. He seemed to embody the success and grandeur that so many of his followers felt was missing from their own lives — and from the country itself. And he scoffed at the poll-driven word-parsing ways of modern politics, calling them a waste of time and money. Instead, he relied on his gut.” wrote the NYT in an article today.
According to the newspaper, Tuesday’s election returns amount to a historic rebuke of the Democratic Party by the white blue-collar voters who had formed the party base from the presidency of Franklin D. Roosevelt to Mr. Clinton’s. Mrs. Clinton and her advisers had assumed that states like Michigan and Wisconsin would stick with a Democratic nominee, and that she could “repeat Mr. Obama’s strategy of mobilizing the party’s ascendant liberal coalition rather than pursuing a more moderate course like her husband did 24 years ago. But not until these voters were offered a Republican who ran as an unapologetic populist, railing against foreign trade deals and illegal immigration, did they move so drastically away from their ancestral political home.”
To the astonishment of many, white voters who had helped elect the nation’s first black president, Barack Obama, appeared less enthusiastic about supporting a white woman.
On Tuesday, November 8, the American people rendered their verdict, with 289 electoral votes in favor of Trump at this moment, to 218 in favor of Hillary Clinton.
Donald Trump is set to take office on January 20, 2017.