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This article was published 9/11/2016 (1531 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.


CLEVELAND, OHIO — History was made Tuesday night. It’s not the history-making many were hoping for. There is no first woman heading into the White House as president.

Instead, it is Donald Trump who won despite the fact he was never supposed to win the primary. The White House is Red again, and Trump has a considerable mess to clean up.

For one, Trump enters the presidency with an approval rating just barely above 50 per cent. That’s also the historical moment in the 2016 election. Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and Trump both had historically low popularity. Clinton was seen as too wooden. Her husband’s presidency and impeachment were hard to spin. Her use of a private email server while secretary of state. And the list goes on.

Trump was viewed as dangerous, a misogynist with a temper. A bad businessman who was fiscally incompetent and had a loose grasp of foreign policy — or any policy for that matter.

The race was a tight one, although some cynics suggest that in the last week the only reason why it was portrayed that way was so television stations could eke the last bit of drama out of a contest that was a ratings winner for various cable news networks.

There are some political strategists in Ohio who say Trump already has a target on his back and predict he will face impeachment almost immediately.

Trump is lucky in that he does have a Republican majority in Senate and Congress.

However, it’s no secret he is viewed with considerable suspicion by GOP elites. It remains to be seen how he will work with them.

But there’s much more to this election than figuring out what needs to happen in the first 100 days in office. Both parties need to have a serious discussion about next steps.

For the Republicans, much needs to be done. First, there needs to be an attempt to get those who voted for Clinton despite their affiliation back into the GOP. One of those supporters, Barbara Sanderson in Cleveland, says no one represents her right now in the Republican party: she’s pro-choice, anti-gun, an atheist, pro-LGBT and pro-health care. She feels her party needs to be less rigid on those types of social issues in order to keep her in the fold. For her, Trump was simply too anti-woman to get her vote.

Ryan Brown, the president of the John Carroll University Student Republicans says he, too, couldn’t vote for Trump despite his position as a student leader.

Brown is pro-trade and pro-immigration, two issues that Trump came out against. For that reason, Brown supported Clinton at the presidential level and then the Republican candidates down-ticket. That was a common response from many Republicans who couldn’t vote for Trump but did for those at other levels.

But it’s more than just that. Some suggest Trump relied on classic demagoguery to get elected. He highlighted a few main political talking points: abortion, immigration, trade, the Middle East to ignite voters and in doing so, hoped that one of those resonated enough to get the voters’ support, regardless of how they felt about his other stances.

In the end, the United States got themselves a president who could make the Daisy commercial a reality. (The commercial painted presidential candidate Barry Goldwater as threatening world peace. It ran during the 1964 election that Lyndon Johnson eventually won.)

Those who voted for Trump were anti-establishment. This was a trait shared with those who supported Bernie Sanders. The political appeal of Trump was that he was so wealthy, he didn’t need the campaign donations (yes, I agree, the logic there is hard to get your head around, but at some visceral level, it makes sense). Clinton was viewed as being part of that cabal and it’s another reason why she lost the White House.

This campaign cost the two presidential candidates about $1.6 billion. Just outside Cleveland, the relatively low level position of commissioner saw the incumbent spend $150,000 to run his campaign. That’s more than what your local MP spent in the 2015 federal election. There are many I have talked to while visiting the United States these last 10 days who say the first step to fixing the problem is putting a limit on campaign spending.

Clearly, Trump was not an aberration. Many of the Americans I talked to said they felt he pulled off the mask of a segment of society which is tired of political correctness, tired of people who are different and tired of seeing an erosion of the quality of life in the United States. It’s been fuelled by the relative anonymity of the social media. It is not likely to go away soon unless the economy improves.

This was a historic election. It wasn’t really an election about hope or rebuilding. As just about everyone I talked to in Louisiana, Ohio and D.C. told me — be they cab drivers, academics, journalists, university students or pundits — this wasn’t a normal election. This one was for the history books.

And while history was made Tuesday night, the cleanup now begins.

Shannon Sampert is the Free Press perspectives and politics editor. She toured the United States during the past 10 days as part of the State Department’s international visitor leadership program.

shannon.sampert@freepress.mb.caTwitter: @paulysigh