Now the work begins -- and everyone has a job to do.
'Historic' and 'unprecedented.' Those are some of the words used in association with Donald Trump's election victory last night. So are 'shocking' and 'stunning.' On November 9th, there are a lot of bruised egos and hurt feelings but there are also millions of Americans who feel a sense of vindication. For too long, they have felt ignored, put upon, put down, and trapped -- unable to find their own path to that elusive thing called the American Dream.
The votes are still being counted. Donald Trump received a convincing win in the Electoral College vote, but the popular vote will be much more evenly divided. As I write, Secretary Clinton leads in that tally. We've seen that show before. While exit polls are now regarded with a skeptical eye (given how bad the pollsters were at predicting Tuesday's outcome,) it's probably true that 60% of the those who voted for Trump do view him unfavorably. That says the level of frustration many hard-working Americans feel outweighs the disgust those same good-hearted individuals likely have with Trump's campaign comments about women, Mexicans, Muslims, the disabled, immigrants, things that can be grabbed, etc. As I tweeted on Election Night, America took its cue from the movie "Network" and had its own "Howard Beale" moment using the voting booth to proclaim "I'm mad as Hell and I'm not going to take it any more."
In his first comments after learning of his victory, President-elect Trump struck the right tone, pledging to be "the President for ALL of America" and saying "it's time to bind the wounds of division and come together." His words going forward will be critical in accomplishing that -- in the same way his words in the past have caused concern. Donald Trump knows that.
Privately, before he was President-elect, Mr. Trump expressed surprise at the thought that people feared he might act rashly as President. Yes, Mr. Trump they really have worried you might push that nuclear button. President-elect Trump must reassure Americans and Allies that his will be a steady hand on the ship of state. He can do this with well chosen words.
Mr. Trump won the support of an overwhelming number of non-college educated individuals. They are looking for jobs that pay a decent wage -- not zillionaire dollars -- just a steady income enabling them to support their families. Drive across any bridge or major thoroughfare in most cities and it's easy to see how an infrastructure program could provide hope for those people. Trump has derided trade policies that he says put American workers at a disadvantage. Now's the time to outline the steps he'll take to create those jobs he promised out on the stump.
He does indeed have much to do.
So do we. Whether you voted for Donald Trump or not, if you are an American or live in this country, you've got a stake in his success as President. It's to our collective advantage to "give Trump a chance," to paraphrase the old Beatles song. How? In the same way President-elect Trump must refrain from the divisive talk that stole the spotlight from his campaign competitors, the rest of us have to try to put aside our own biases. And we've all got them. I recently received an email with the signature "Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind." Now is the time for kindness.
It is also a time to remember that what it means to be American is to be a part of this great big stew first created more than two hundred years ago. Most of us trace our roots outside this nation's borders. It is that bit of Irish industriousness and African spirituality and German determination and Hispanic energy and so forth that combined has created a nation and a people that ARE the envy of the rest of the world.
We live in a world of campaign slogans and tweets. Candidate Donald Trump created a lot of anxiety with some of his social media posts. President-elect Donald Trump's first post was reassuring: "The forgotten man and woman, forgotten no more."
It also turns out BOTH candidate's slogans are guideposts for the future. Hillary Clinton was correct. America IS "Stronger Together." Donald Trump's slogan spoke to the quietly held hope that we could "Make America Great Again." Together, we can do that.