To say that Donald Trump's decisive election victory is a stunning development is the understatement of the century. This election makes Truman's surprise win over Dewey look positively pedestrian. The repercussions are enormous, but so are the opportunities.
First and foremost, Trump's victory is a thunderous rebuke to the legions of pundits and armies of pollsters who said it couldn't happen, and the mainstream press that declared all-out war on his candidacy. In the days leading up the election, every poll except the IBD/TIPP tracking poll showed Hillary Clinton winning by a wide margin in a four-way race. Newspapers declared that Trump's chances were minimal, if not impossible, while running wall-to-wall hit pieces on Trump. Pundits acted as though the election was over.
Their blindness had more to do with ideological and cultural biases than anything else. They simply could not or would not see the suffering that eight years of President Obama's failed economic policies had wrought. We can hear these "experts" now. "How could Trump possibly have won? Nobody I knew voted for him!"
Trump's win is also a gigantic thumb in the eye of a political establishment that has grown too insular, too corrupt and far too removed from the needs of the people they are supposed to serve. The Washington establishment abhorred a Trump presidency not so much because of his temperament, but because of the real risk he posed to their cozy taxpayer-supported way of life. It is also a direct repudiation of President Obama, who campaigned fiercely for Hillary and made her victory a testament to his presidency.
And, if nothing else, Trump has finally, mercifully pulled the plug on the long unseemly, corrupt Clinton machine that has for too long tainted the political process. Good riddance to them and their hangers-on.
On Tuesday night, voters handed all these people their comeuppance. One that is long overdue.
But now is not the time for recriminations. Now is a time of looking ahead. What does a Donald Trump presidency mean for the country, and what responsibilities does this election bring to his opponents and supporters? What priorities does Trump need to focus on?
For Trump's opponents, they must come to grips with the fact that the public has rendered its verdict on his suitability to be president. The Constitution purposefully stipulates only three qualifications for office — age, residency and citizenship. The founders trusted voters and the Electoral College system to decide the rest. On Tuesday, they did that.
It's now up to Trump's most vicious critics, both Democrats and Republican #NeverTrumpers, to come to grips with this fact, and to make the best of it, rather than try to sabotage his presidency to prove their point. (Based on Twitter comments from prominent liberals, that doesn't look promising.)
For Republicans, Trump represents a unique set of challenges. As the campaign progressed, Trump laid out several solid conservative proposals, on ObamaCare, on tax reform, on immigration reform, on national security. But Trump has repeatedly shown that his instinct is to veer left.
Republicans will have to work hard to keep Trump focused on those conservative priorities. Ending Obama's eight-year economic slog has to be job No. 1, and as IBD reported recently, with the right policies in place, the economy can grow much faster than it has been.
That means achieving three things as quickly as possible: getting his tax cuts enacted — particularly on the corporate side — overhauling Dodd-Frank and getting rid of ObamaCare.
Republicans will also have to work hard to temper Trump's anti free-trade instincts. A trade war is the one big risk Trump's presidency represents for the economy. Trump has said repeatedly that he is all in favor of free trade, and the GOP needs to hold him to those words.
On foreign policy, we live in dangerous times. Obama has left the country weaker, less respected and more vulnerable around the world. Trump will need to rebuild alliances, rebuild the military, and surround himself with a stellar team of advisers who can counsel him on how to navigate through the mess Obama has left behind.
For his part, Trump has to prove that he is the leader he has claimed to be: the guy who can make the tough decisions, who knows how to get the economy moving, who can protect Americans at home, and who can bring our enemies to heel.
Trump has defied seemingly endless predictions that his campaign would fail. So there's reason to believe that he could defy the "experts" again and become a good, if not great, president. For the sake of the country, he must be given the opportunity to do so.