Donald Trump won. I told you he would.
Not “might” win. Not “could win under the following circumstances.” In June, I wrote: “He’s going to win as surely as the sun rises in the east, as certainly as high tide follows low, and as definitively as Steph Curry laid waste to the Oklahoma Thunder’s defense.”
Now, you don’t have to like it. Many of you didn’t like it at the time. Readers bombarded my email box with angry messages. How could I possibly think this “racist,” “sexist,” “ignorant buffoon” would get within 1,000 miles of the White House? He’s a fascist! He’s a moron! He’s going to ruin the country!
So you say. You know what else he is? President-elect. Here’s why:
1. His rhetoric resonated, even as it appalled. One of the most important and overlooked books of the campaign season was Alexander Zaitchik’s “The Gilded Rage: A Wild Ride Through Donald Trump’s America.” Zaitchik is a leftist, but he performed a great service by letting Trump’s supporters do the talking. He lets them talk for pages.
And what did they say? Trump spoke to their hopes, not their fears. He didn’t talk down to them. Oh, and they are not racists, either. Trump’s opponents (left and right) refused listen to these people and – fatally – couldn’t get past Trump’s bluster.
2. Most Republicans fell in line. Although a handful of prominent Republicans remained #NeverTrump, that movement flamed out bigly. “Independent conservative” Evan McMullin lost handily in Utah and Idaho, the two states his campaign had hoped to deny Trump. Even though Trump mauled and insulted Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and threatened House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin both men ended up endorsing him. Unprincipled? Sure, but also victorious.
3. Gotcha journalism didn’t faze Trump – much. The “Access Hollywood” tape tripped up Trump for about a week, 10 days tops. Mainly, though, journalists seemed to operate in a bubble of confirmation bias and comfortable liberal self-assurance. Many analysts were wrong in their predictions because they accepted the media’s premise that Trump couldn’t possibly win, a classic error.
4. Hillary Clinton was terrible. Come on. She re-booted her campaign a half-dozen times. She reeked of corruption. She generated little enthusiasm. Wikileaks surely hurt her campaign, but Wikileaks didn’t write those emails or make up the Wall Street speech transcripts. Clinton really did tell a private audience of bankers that she held “both a public and a private position” on Wall Street reform. She confirmed to the doubters that she wasn’t one of them, but rather “one of them.”
5. The polls were wrong. Just as British pollsters were shocked by “shy Tories” – voters who said they would vote Labor over Conservative, or “remain” rather than “leave” in the Brexit referendum this summer – our pollsters couldn’t identify the “shy Trumpers.” Only the Los Angeles Times and Investor’s Business Daily polls were correct, and they were dismissed as “outliers.”
6. Obamacare. Last month, millions of voters received word that their health insurance premiums would be increasing by 25 percent to 50 percent. In many cases, people lost coverage altogether. President Barack Obama’s signature policy achievement is hammering people. If you think that didn’t affect the election outcome, you’re dreaming.
Trump was shameless. He took no guff. He only listened to the experts when it suited him, he mocked the press, defied conventional wisdom – and he won.
Ben Boychuk is managing editor of American Greatness, a journal of conservative opinion. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.