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Politics, America changed forever with Trump victory

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MANCHESTER, N.H. — Nine months ago, Donald Trump stood on a stage here and thanked the state for breathing life into his presidential dream.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 08/11/2016 (2273 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

MANCHESTER, N.H. — Nine months ago, Donald Trump stood on a stage here and thanked the state for breathing life into his presidential dream.

“Oh wow,” he exclaimed after winning a decisive victory in the first primary of the long campaign. “Oh wow. So beautiful. So beautiful.”

The words might prove to be the theme song of Trump’s entire election, and his supporters at Republican headquarters at a Manchester country club were giddy as Trump claimed victory Tuesday night.

John Locher / The Associated Press Supporters cheer as they wait for President-elect Donald Trump to speak during his election night rally, Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2016, in New York.

His supporters said he has changed politics in the Republican party — and America.

“Trump was a fresh face. He started a movement, and we followed,” said John Olexa, a Vietnam War veteran from Amherst, N.H.

As banners shouting “End the corruption” and “Her lies matter” floated above him in a Manchester country club where Republicans gathered to watch the results, Olexa said Trump’s success is as much a repudiation of the GOP establishment as it is Hillary Clinton.

The Republicans will have to change.

“The Republican Party is at a crossroads,” he said. “They will have to lean towards his kind of conservatism and put America first.”

Many established Republicans, including House Speaker Paul Ryan and New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte, disavowed Trump as a candidate in recent weeks after his sexist comments about women were made public.

Trump backer Jefferson Ohdner said that didn’t matter because nuclear war with Russia is on the line.

“The way Clinton antagonizes Putin in Russia, we could end up at war,” he said. “It’s not about sex talk in a locker room 20 years ago. It’s about nuclear war.”

New Hampshire Trump campaign co-chairman Stephen Stepanek said Trump tapped into a deep discontent and anger that was simmering — an anger most others in politics didn’t understand, among a people who have long been absent from the political process.

“You’ve got an underlying group of people who don’t talk to the pollsters or aren’t even in the data bases,” Stepanek said. “A significant number of our supporters haven’t voted for decades.”

Stepanek was the first public official  to endorse Donald Trump, and he said over the 17 months since Trump’s campaign began, he has heard the same story time and again, from working Americans who were tired of not being heard, tired of not having a voice in Washington.

“The system is not working for the American people,” Stepanek said.

He told a story about a woman who told him she and her husband, who hadn’t voted in years, would vote for Trump.

“Tell Mr. Trump my husband and I are voting for him because finally there is someone who is not afraid to say things as they are,” Stepanek quoted her as saying. “My husband hasn’t voted for anyone since Ronald Reagan.”

Reagan was last on the ballot in 1984.

“I’ve heard that story hundreds of times,” said Stepanek.

There was a fear among Democrats that those kinds of voters were larger in number than anyone had thought. The establishment consensus, even among Republicans, was that Trump didn’t have a wide enough swath of support to win, that his comments about Mexicans and Muslims and women would disqualify him from the country’s highest office. It did not.

It was those things that made him attractive to Olexa. He said initially he favoured Ben Carson — but not for long.

“I felt he was too nice of a person,” said Olexa, as shouts and hollers of giddy Trump fans drowned him out. “Trump can get in the dirt and fight.”

His disgust for Clinton knows no bounds, believing that when he was in the military if he did what she did with national security information and her private email server — no matter that no charges have been laid — he would have been subject to a court-martial.

“Richard Nixon was a saint compared to Clinton,” he said, his voice filled with disdain.

Republican consultant Mike Murphy acknowledged Tuesday he was one of the naysayers.

“Under the normal rules of politics, he couldn’t put it together — but he’s broken the normal rules of politics.”

That anger was even recognized by longtime Hillary Clinton friend and adviser Terry Shumaker. He said when Bernie Sanders did so well against Clinton in the Democratic primary race, it was a sign people were looking for something different.

“Both he and Donald Trump have shown there is a lot of discontentment,” said Shumaker. “They hate the gridlock in Washington. Not getting a raise for 10 or 15 years tends to put a damper on your enthusiasm.”

Clinton, the embodiment of the establishment, bore the brunt of that anger. Shumaker said she has suffered from 25 years of relentless attacks, and when you take as many punches as she has over the years “it’s bound to have an impact.”

mia.rabson@freepress.mb.ca

 

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