The mourn­ing after the elec­tion

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - OPINION - Kath­leen Parker Colum­nist Kath­leen Parker’s email ad­dress is kath­leen­parker@wash­post.com.

When I opened my front door Wed­nes­day morn­ing after lit­tle sleep and numb from a bad dream that wasn’t a dream, a dreary rain­fall glazed the side­walk as two neigh­bors gazed blankly in my di­rec­tion.

As I leaned down to pick up my news­pa­per, a Ca­role King song fil­tered through my pre-cof­fee brain fog: Some­thing in­side has died, and I can’t hide, and I just can’t fake it. Oh, no, no. Good ol’ Ca­role King.

From there, my morn­ing pro­ceeded me­chan­i­cally: Find re­mote con­trol, turn on “Morn­ing Joe,” fix cof­fee, open re­frig­er­a­tor door, close re­frig­er­a­tor door, turn off sound on ring­ing cell­phone, turn off TV, lie on floor. I’m guess­ing this rou­tine sounds fa­mil­iar to fel­low elec­tion-dazed denizens.

As reg­u­lar read­ers of this col­umn know, I re­jected Don­ald Trump on Day One and have spent the past year — in col­umns, on TV and in speeches across the coun­try — high­light­ing the many rea­sons I found him un­ac­cept­able for the job of pres­i­dent.

My opin­ion hasn’t changed, but as Hil­lary Clin­ton said in her ac­cep­tance speech, “Don­ald Trump is go­ing to be our pres­i­dent. We owe him an open mind and a chance to lead.” And Trump, in his vic­tory speech, said with­out irony that now it’s time to heal the wounds of divi­sion. Head hurt­ing, but OK. To be­gin, there needs to be an hon­est as­sess­ment of what just hap­pened. It isn’t re­ally that com­pli­cated or mys­te­ri­ous, if you’ve spent any time in the Amer­ica where Trump vot­ers live. As one who ven­tured in­side the Belt­way only 12 or so years ago — as a “spy for Bubba,” I in­tro­duced my­self — I’ve spent most of my life among the in­dige­nous peo­ples.

Two weeks ago, I be­gan say­ing that Trump would win, whether I liked it or not. To­day, I of­fer a clar­i­fi­ca­tion: He didn’t win the elec­tion. Clin­ton lost it.

For vot­ers who couldn’t stand Trump, she was a ter­ri­ble al­ter­na­tive. Never a great can­di­date, she was also, trag­i­cally, a Clin­ton when peo­ple were ready to move on. She re­ceived sev­eral mil­lion fewer votes than Obama did in 2012.

And speak­ing of Obama, he also lost this elec­tion to Trump, de­spite exit polling that showed the pres­i­dent’s ap­proval rat­ing at 50 per­cent­plus.

The 2016 elec­tion was as much a ref­er­en­dum on his le­gacy as it was on the can­di­dates them­selves. When peo­ple want the coun­try to change course, they don’t typ­i­cally vote for a third term of the cur­rent pres­i­dent.

Thus, a vote for Trump was re­ally a vote against Oba­macare and the ris­ing costs of health in­sur­ance. It was a vote against the dou­bling of the na­tional debt to nearly $20 tril­lion un­der Obama. It was a vote against a for­eign pol­icy that saw the Is­lamic State’s ex­pan­sion rather than its de­feat.

Clin­ton’s prom­ise to con­tinue Obama’s poli­cies was a sui­cide agenda to a ma­jor­ity of Amer­i­cans, es­pe­cially those whose lives haven’t im­proved dur­ing the eco­nomic re­cov­ery of the past eight years. Clin­ton also em­braced much of Bernie San­ders’ so­cial­ist plat­form, which no con­ser­va­tive-lean­ing voter could sup­port.

And, yes, too, some Trump vot­ers prob­a­bly re­sented the ex­ac­er­ba­tion of racial dis­cord un­der Obama’s watch when Amer­i­cans had hoped for the op­po­site re­sult. Race as a fac­tor in Repub­li­can op­po­si­tion to Obama can’t be ig­nored or min­i­mized. Nor can Trump’s role in nur­tur­ing hos­til­ity to­ward Mus­lims and Mex­i­cans — or his an­tipa­thy to­ward women, the dis­abled and even a war hero’s par­ents — be dis­missed in vic­tory.

Mi­nori­ties have rea­son to feel threat­ened in a Trump-in­spired en­vi­ron­ment of hos­til­ity to­ward “the other.”

The gi­ant X-fac­tor about which I have writ­ten — the how­ever many who would never ad­mit to vot­ing for Trump but did — was enor­mous, in­deed.

Trump cap­tured a moment and promised to make Amer­ica great again. He also said that he’ll be the pres­i­dent of ev­ery­body. Let’s hope he wasn’t just read­ing from a teleprompter — and that the word trick­les down.

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