Election 2016

Trump wins White House

Image By: Cameron Lane-Flehinger and Cameron Lane-Flehinger

Harnessing bitter resentment toward America’s shifting social norms and economic base, the political upstart Donald Trump wins the race for America’s presidency over the heavily favored Hillary Clinton.

No matter the label that leaders of either party brought down on him—bigot, misogynist, ignorant, sexual predator—Trump remained afloat. A block of disgruntled white voters propelled him to victory, latching onto his message of law and order, economic nationalism and anti-elitism as a salve for a changing America they no longer recognized.

On the economic front, Trump’s derision of free trade deals like NAFTA, which he claimed sucked industrial jobs to places like Mexico, resonated in blighted post-industrial communities. Stung by the twin engines of globalization and technological advance championed by elites on both sides of the aisle, these voters coalesced to bring down the establishment icon Clinton.

“They take our jobs for a lower bid and they put us out of a job,” said John Bly at a Trump rally in Janesville last spring. He explained how he lost his union job at a car seat supplier when the city’s GM plant closed in 2008. Gaunt and wearing beat-up work boots, he explained that to get by he took a job as a delivery driver for a fraction of his former wage.

Trump pledged to remain the voice of those like Bly who felt America had left them behind.

“The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer,” Trump said in his victory speech in New York City.

He said he would reach out to those who opposed him in the quest to “Make America great again.”

“We will begin the urgent task of rebuilding our nation and rebuilding the American dream,” Trump said.

To many pundits, however, Trump’s campaign was about nothing more than white identity politics and contempt for the nation’s elites, intellectuals and social norms of decency.

After descending Trump Tower’s gilded escalator as a political newcomer last year, he wasted no time calling Mexicans “racists” and promised to build a “beautiful wall” on the southern border. He remained true to form throughout, suggesting barring Muslims from the country, threatening to enhance libel laws to freeze the free press and calling for the implementation of unconstitutional “stop and frisk” policies to thwart inner-city crime, all before last month’s “Access Hollywood” tape showed him telling Billy Bush how he conducts sexual assault.

But Trump voters didn’t seem to care.

UW-Madison’s College Republicans filled two full floors of Brickhouse Barbeque on West Gorham on election night to celebrate.

“I think Mr. Trump has a way to go with reaching out to people in the past he’s alienated,” conceded Alex Walker, CR chair and son of Gov. Scott Walker. “But our chapter is excited about him winning.”

Walker predicted that UW-Madison students will warm up to Trump, a tall order for a campus that helps make up Dane County, 70 percent of which voted for Clinton.

“I think that students will have a chance to hear from Trump more and less from the media that basically has been out to get him,” Walker said, repeating a recurring anti-media trope from Trump’s campaign.

With campus support or not, Trump will ascend to the presidency in January.

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