wholesale change

Donald Reagan caricature by DonkeyHotey

Thinking back politically into the middle of 2016, I must admit that I began to wonder if the GOP challenger Donald Trump might be moving the United States toward a seminal and decisive change.

The question came into my mind, “Will Trump be a person who will have a transformative moment to the political system similar to the way Ronald Reagan changed the Republican Party?”

Yet in questioning this new phenom on the political scene, we never thought it would bring massive questions to the government. We merely thought that this would be something that would change the Republican Party.

How wrong I was.  Indeed it appears that Donald Trump captured a wave of sentiment among the American people.  They wanted more than just small tinkering with our government. Many of the Trump supporters want wholesale changes.

All this was during a time when it appeared that the front-runner was Hillary Clinton, who had a proven and well thought-out platform, not some off-the-cuff program to shoot from the hip as Donald Trump was doing. Our thinking went: how could a country expect to get good government from such a blow-hard as Donald Trump, especially when the alternative was a person loaded with years of political experience, both in the halls of the White House, and in the Senate?

Many of us did not recognize the baggage that Mrs. Clinton hauled around with her. We did not understand the depth of voters with sometimes pure hatred for her candidacy. While both candidates had low rankings in the eyes of the people, it just seemed like Mrs. Clinton’s time was due, and surely the women of this country would flock to her support.

We were wrong.

The flocking was of another nature, not male-female, not philosophical, but more of a gut nature.  Many people, especially in key states, favored the shoot-from-the-hip of Donald Trump. Mrs. Clinton’s unpopularity was her undoing. We now realize that she was a flawed candidate.

We also thought that the often-discussed Electoral College would be Mrs. Clinton’s salvation. By focusing on close races in key states, such as Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and even in Ohio, we figured that Mrs. Clinton would capture the majority of votes in these states, giving her the electoral victory, even if she should lose the popular vote.

The exact opposite happened. She lost these key states, and even North Carolina, too, which provided the margin of electoral votes to make Mr. Trump the president. We thought the electoral college would be the salvation of Mrs. Clinton.  But it proved to be savior of the of the Trump campaign, even though Mrs. Clinton won the popular vote.

We have no problem with the electoral college. We still think it is a protective device against having some popular person just paying attention to key states, and forgetting the lesser areas of this country. It makes a person’s vote in every state really count in the balloting for the presidency. If we relied solely on the popular vote, small states would really be disenfranchised.  The Founding Fathers understood this, and gave us an apparatus that still works.  Mr. Trump’s election proves it.

Years from now, we suspect people will see the election of Donald Trump as a major turning point in the history of the United States. How it will turn out is up for grabs, but for sure, on January 20 the United States will make a definite turn. We hope it takes us down the road to better government, though we can’t think now what that will be.

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Editor's Note: This story first appeared at the Gwinnett Forum. Image: Donald Reagan caricature by DonkeyHotey via flickr and used under a Creative Commons license.
Elliott Brack

Elliott Brack

Elliott Brack is a native Georgian and veteran newspaperman. He published the weekly Wayne County Press for 12 years; was for 13 years the vice president and general manager of Gwinnett Daily News, and for 13 years was associate publisher of the Gwinnett section of The Atlanta Journal and Constitution. He now publishes, in retirement, Web sites on Gwinnett County, http://www.gwinnettforum.com, and Georgia news, http://www.georgiaclips.com.