Even Donald J. Trump.
If my knowledge of local political sentiment correct, about 33 percent of you just read the headline on this story and started beating your red, white and blue thundersticks together and chanting “MAGA!”
Another 33.22 percent of you read those words and wondered if it’s too soon to celebrate a Trump Presidency, even though you voted for him.
And the remaining 33.78 percent (according to the Benton County Auditor’s Office election totals), those of you who voted for Hillary Clinton – if you have are still reading and have not tossed your laptop or smart phone across the room – are wondering if maybe I have just returned from some state where marijuana is legal.
If you’ve read my columns so far, you know, by now, that my position, in relation to the Trump Bandwagon (or Trump Basket, as someone once famously called it this summer), is not, at all, “on.” (Or, in reference to the aforementioned basket, “in.”)
But as Inauguration Day approaches, we media types traditionally celebrate the good things about our new President (and yes, he is your president, whether you say so or not), his life story and how he ended up parading to the White House on Jan. 20.
Who should be inspired by President Trump?
Anyone who has ever heard anyone say to them: “You can’t do that.”
From the first time DJT mentioned the idea of running for President, just about anyone who is anyone in the news, politics or the media said he could never do it. Many of them laughed. Out loud. Many of them kept laughing, until about about 10 p.m. Election Night.
Senator Tim Scott is a freshman U.S. Senator from South Carolina, a rarity in that he is a black supporter of Donald Trump. Somebody from a major newspaper called Senator Scott at around 2 p.m. Election Day.
“I am working on a story about why Trump lost,” said the reporter, who asked Scott for a comment. The Senator told the journalist he may want to hold off on the story; the election, he said, was not yet over.
He was right.
Just about everyone else – including me – was wrong.
Everyone – from our favorite actors to our favorite comedians to the pollsters and social scientists and several political leaders of his own party – said Trump couldn’t win, and wouldn’t.
Even, most of all, the President whom he will replace on Friday – a man who is most famous for saying “YES, WE CAN!” looked at the camera on a late night comedy show, speaking to Donald J. Trump, and said “NO, YOU NEVER, EVER WILL.”
And, then, Trump did.
True, Trump lost the popular vote by almost 3 million votes (with Hillary winning by more than 6 million votes in just New York City and several West Coast cities). But Trump won 30 states, including five where Mitt Romney lost in 2012. He won all but about 487 of the 3,113 counties or parishes in the country – more than any GOP candidate since Ronald Reagan in 1984.
And yet, they laughed at him from the beginning.
The comedians laughed.
“I thought he was running as a joke,” said Seth Meyers.
“Do it. Do it,” said comedian John Oliver in 2013, after playing a clip in which Trump said he was considering running in 2016. “I will personally write you a campaign check now, on behalf of this country, which does not want you to be president, but which badly wants you to run.”
The media laughed.
They wanted Trump to run – he was great for ratings and he made millions watch the normally cut-and-dried coverage of the GOP caucus/primary process. I personally think media execs were thrilled at Trump’s rise, but expected him to lose big to Hillary.
Some of them even said so.
“Experts say Trump’s new moves prove he actually WANTS to go down spectacularly” declared the NY Daily News on its cover on Aug. 21. The NY Daily News was one of many strongly anti-Trump publications throughout the campaign, even declaring at one point that he was half as popular as head lice in a May front page – a week after declaring that Trump was causing the death of the Republican party.
“Never Trump” was another front page headline for the Daily News, which also referred to New Hampshire Trump voters as “zombies” and South Carolina Trump supporters as “yokels.”
Another New Yorker media person who was confident Donald Trump would not win is MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow.
Looking at polls with what Maddow called “legit methodology” that showed Trump behind in most states “toss-up” states and barely leading in “red” states like Kansas and South Carolina in August, Maddow looked into the camera and said: “Even if Donald Trump has the best day in the entire world and wins all of the toss-up states, he would still lose.”
On Oct. 23, George Stephanopoulous, in an interview with Eric Trump said, began with these words;
“So you saw that poll, down double digits, 12 points in our tracking poll, and it shows that arguments your father is making right now are not working.”
When Eric Trump responded by citing polls showing Trump with a lead, Stephanopolous replied, “So, you don’t think you’re fighting from behind right now? Do you think you might be living in a bubble of your support?”
On the Election Eve, Nate Silver of the poll-watching website 538.com, declared that Hillary Clinton had a 71.4 percent chance of winning. Most scenarios, wrote Silver, had Clinton winning – and possibly winning big. However, in the past couple of weeks before the election, Silver’s web site’s chart showing the odds of a Trump winning showed Trump’s chances increasing from 9 percent on Oct. 17 to up to 35 percent the weekend before the election.
Ethan Cohen, a poll expert and consultant, severely criticized Silver for predicting that Trump had such a “high” chance of winning. In a Huffington Post essay entitled “What’s Wrong with 538?” Cohen cited statistics indicating that every major poll showed that Clinton’s chances of victory were 99 percent – or higher.
Cohen went on to say that describing Trump’s 28.6 percent chance of victory so unbelievably high that it causes him to question 538’s “professional competence and responsibility.”
Politicians and political experts also agreed with Cohen.
“I’m afraid that, only days from now, it will be all about recrimination and blame, rather than understanding and rebuilding,” said Republican pollster Frank Luntz, in an ABC Australia interview Oct. 28, as he predicted a huge defeat for Trump and the GOP.
And countless Republican politicians throughout the U.S. either stood silently, hoping to not get swallowed up in the anti-Trump avalanche they were sure was coming, or even boldly predicted his demise. Utah Senator Mike Lee even argued that Trump would lose and urged him – with less than one month to go before Election Day – to drop out of the race so the GOP could replace him with a candidate who had a chance to win.
I could go on and on, but I think you get the point: Almost nobody who knows this stuff expected Trump to win – including me.
I was sure he would drop out before the GOP primary season ended. I was sure he would not win the nomination. I was sure Hillary would beat him in the landslide that the NY Daily News called for.
Oh, occasionally I had some bizarre premonitions, that fate or destiny – or even God, perhaps, for some cosmic reason far beyond my ability to comprehend – wanted Donald J. Trump to be President. And I woke up on Election Day with the same feeling I remembered from 1980, when as an undecided too-young-to-vote American that Reagan is the man I would have voted for if I could. While I had already voted and would not have voted for Trump if I were still legally eligible to do so, I knew I did not want another President Clinton. And the only way for that to happen was for Trump to win. And I wondered if the majority of the rest of America – as they had done in 1980 – woke up with the same feeling.
But still, when I heard Trump was ahead in the early returns, I said, “He won’t win. Hillary’s got the West Coast states locked up.”
But then all of the exit polls that showed Clinton winning turned out to be as wrong as the polls of the previous two months.
And here we are, watching him get ready to parade down Pennsylvania Avenue.
What is inspiring about the Trump story is this: If the guy who nobody said could win, won, then maybe, just maybe, you (and I) can, too.
“When the experts say you can never win, you can.”
“When they question the professional competency of anyone who says you have a chance, you do.”
“When even the Leader of the Free World glares at the camera and authoritatively drops his phone to make the point that you will NEVER succeed, expect victory.”
That is the the first message that Donald Trump will carry into the White House on Friday.
I have some friends who have recently lost jobs, or finished college or faced other challenges that left them not sure what they would do or where they would go next.
To them, I like to say: “What do you want to do? Go do it!”
Now, I can also say: “Trump did it, when everyone said he couldn’t. And I know you can you.”