Bernie Sanders knew we’d all gone to look for America.
It was an election so ugly at times, we had to look away as if we’d walked in on something we wished we could ‘un-see.’ But the curmudgeon beloved by the safe-space kids got one thing very right. He realized in these uneasy times, voters wanted to ‘walk off and look for America’ just like those two kids passing each other cigarettes and drifting off to sleep on the bus in the Simon & Garfunkel classic.
It was the soundtrack to the only political ad anyone might remember from 2016. Or want to remember. The longing in this feel good campaign ad felt non-partisan. It made us wistful that maybe we could find where we’d lost Her. Maybe if we boarded a Greyhound in Pittsburgh and headed toward Michigan we’d find America again. Bingo. Yes, that might be just the ticket in fact, knew Donald Trump.
The song kicked around in my head as I flew across our homeland covering the election. From New York to Cleveland, Des Moines, Las Vegas and St. Louis, I stared at the interlocking rectangles, the baseball fields, the swimming pools, the golf courses, the canyons and the majestic jagged Rockies. If you stop staring at your blue screen and look down once in a while, it takes your breath away, it is so awesome and beautiful. There is no place like America. Between the stunning skyline of New York and the bright lights of Hollywood it is out there.
The president-elect has the enormous task of delivering. He has to bring back jobs, respect for faith and peace through strength. He told them “I am your voice.” Now he must be.
The Clinton campaign made an early attempt to find it. The van tour across the country fell flat. Day one included Hillary and Huma trying to decipher the menu above the counter while wearing big sunglasses. Then there was the staged table chat with coal miners. It felt unauthentic. Clinton had served the country all her life from Arkansas to the White House and around the world, but something had tilted the axis and she didn’t realize that the ground had shifted. Perhaps the stumble at the 9/11 ceremony was more that than anything else in the end. She lost her balance.
Meanwhile, the Trump campaign sent out photos of huge “Trump/Pence” banners on hay bales and pickup trucks. Navy blue and white billboards standing in the middle of empty fields cheering on their guy. How quaint thought the pundits. Too bad there aren’t any voters out there. The Trump campaign swore they were out there and that they would come out and vote. They knew that when the pollsters were calling, most of their folks weren’t answering. These voters saw poll takers as part of the machine and they weren’t going to let them in on their truth.
They voted for Barack Hussein Obama twice. They gave “Hope and Change” a chance, but now they were the tipping point for Trump. Often living pay check to pay check and they’d just found out how much their health care deductible was going up next year. Their factories are gone but Mr. Trump told them the cavalry was finally coming. The song goes, “Kathy, I’m lost. I’m empty and aching and I don’t know why.”
A new Washington Post Poll asks what word best describes your feelings about Mr. Trump’s win. Eighty-one percent said ‘disappointed’, while sixty-one said ‘happy’ and a variety of other emotions in between. But in the same poll, 52 percent say the standard of living in the U.S. will go up in his presidency.
So, now the president-elect has the enormous task of delivering. He has to bring back jobs, respect for faith and peace through strength. He told them “I am your voice.” Now he must be. He must be that every day of his presidency. He must be as surprising in office as he was on the campaign trail. He must shock the nation with his ability to bring people together and get the work of the people done. His critics will try to stop him every step of the way. He will either be great or terrible. With now President-elect Donald Trump there is not a lot of in between.
“Let us be lovers, we’ll marry our fortunes together.”