I still remember distinctly the feeling of awe as the election results rolled in on the evening of November 8th. The mood at the Republican watch party I was at in Virginia started off solemn and damper.
Despite the long and hard campaign we fought for President Donald Trump and our down-ticket candidates, we all had seen the polls and had listened endlessly to the pundits who were predicting an over 400 Electoral vote landslide for Hillary Clinton.
However as the results began to trickle in, slowly the mood went to mellow disbelief and then restrained hope. We saw as Pennsylvania’s results were not the blue landslide the pundits had been predicting. We looked in wonder as Ohio, Michigan, and then even Wisconsin began turning red.
Even Virginia initially looked like it might have turned out the right way for us, as Trump pulled into the lead for the first hour after the polls closed.
What many were expecting to be an early evening instead turned into a long and wonderful night. At the end of it, we realized we really had done – we had, through all our efforts by countless people from every corner of the nation, really elected Donald Trump as President against all the odds.
For those who remember the campaign, it was perhaps one of the most extraordinarily ones in American history. I’ve done my fair share of campaigns, but serving as a minor Trump campaign official and as a statewide Elector for the Republican Party of Virginia, I saw the Trump campaign was truly something different.
America in 2016 was divided and in angst. After years of an increasingly dreary national spirit, many Americans yearned for change. Some sought change in the misguided dreams of Democratic Socialist Bernie Sanders. Others sought to renew American strength in the bold, even if often inarticulately said, vision of Donald Trump.
The causes of this “revolt by the voters” were many and undoubtedly will be still studied by historians for years and even decades to come. However at the very least it was a combination of an increasingly distant and aloof DC political elite, a change in American economic conditions that led to immense increases in wealth for those at the upper ends but stagnation and even decline for those in the middle class, and a rapid decline in the role of faith and religious freedom in American life.
President Trump entered this perfect storm as a candidate with all the right characteristics to capture the moment. He was a well-established American media and entertainment personality, a household name to tens of millions of Americans over the decades. He was a billionaire businessman at a time when Americans were increasingly sick of “politics as usual.” He quickly catapulted from a footnote in the news reports to the frontrunner for the Republican nomination, and then eventually our nominee and then President.
The 2016 primary in the meantime was perhaps one of the most brutal in American history. We had almost two-dozen well-qualified candidates, with several truly exceptional ones, but none who could temper the tsunami Republican voters were sending forward in the same way Donald Trump did. That is why no matter what attack or denunciation against him, he was able to shrug it off and continue to drive forward.
Throughout the entirety of the primary campaign and general election it was repeatedly said that Trump’s support would fade and that he would not be able to achieve the next step. It was said he would not actually file to run, that he would not file the required financial disclosure forms, that he would drop out before the Iowa caucus, that he would fade in whatever next primary there was, or that the next daily news revelation or cringe-worthy statement would be what sunk him.
All of these naysayers were proven wrong again and again. The final nay-saying however, was when the Huffington Post reported on November 7 that based on its extensive poll aggregation and analysis that Hillary Clinton had a 98.2% chance of winning the Presidency, with the Democrats likely to take the Senate as well.
The next evening, the final note on that drama fell and we acclaimed Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States by a previously unfathomable 306-232 count, as well as kept the Senate and House.
Since then, it’s been an exciting year with many ups and downs – many victories and accomplishments, ranging from a booming stock market to military victories to constitutional judges, as well as defeats, such as the pending Obamacare bill.
Whatever the future holds, the journey we achieved last year should be remembered and cherished. We indeed made history, against all the odds.