Trump sends message

KYLE DAY, Opinion Columnist

Last Tuesday night, I was privileged to watch this election cycle’s results at the PIPAC Center with the Black Hawk County Republicans. There, I witnessed in real time, and celebrated, the electoral victories of Charles Grassley, Rod Blum and Walt Rogers (my hero and my homeboy) with appetizers and a delicious merlot.

I also recognized Bonnie Sadler, Todd Obadal, Drew Speer, Chad Folken, Terry Scheffert and John Dodge for their hard (though unsuccessful) efforts to introduce dramatic change to the county. I also shouted for joy at the defeat of Iowa Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal and the establishment of GOP-unified government in Des Moines.

But watching the presidential election, despite my stubborn refusal to support either Trump or Clinton, was a particularly intense, almost moving experience.

Don’t get me wrong, I knew that the Donald was going to win. I had known since at least September. And I had maintained that prediction even in the darkest days of Trump’s campaign (specifically the Billy Bush tape leak, an “October surprise” which really shouldn’t have been surprising to anyone).

But knowing what will happen and watching it happen are sometimes two different experiences. I felt quite a mixture of sensations:

Revulsion at the electoral success of a man who displays no real interest in (much less a coherent set of opinions regarding) the work of government and of public policy;

Disappointment at my fellow (registered) Republicans who had thrown in their lot with the orange businessman;

Relief that the White House would not be occupied by yet another megalomaniac who practically gets away with murder just because his/her last name happens to be “Clinton”;

Amazement at Trump almost handily winning states that had propelled President Obama to victory in both of his elections;

Shock at Trump not only losing women by a mere single percentage point less than did Mitt Romney in 2012, but also surpassing Romney’s achievements with virtually all racial minorities (including Hispanics).

But perhaps the strongest sensation I experienced was that of vindication. Despite never once supporting Trump, I had come to see his (now successful) campaign as most of his supporters saw it (and many of his detractors now also see it): a referendum on the arrogance, condescension, insularity, and ideological conformity and intimidation of the reining urban progressive elite in America.

For too long (I’m not just talking about the last eight years, here), those elites had assumed their righteousness and their power and run wild with both, with utter disregard for who suffered in their wake.

On Wednesday morning, however, those elites received the rude awakening that had been coming for them, and it was satisfying even to me, who proudly voted for Evan McMullin instead. For more understanding of this phenomenon, check out Emmet Rensin’s magnificent (though rather long) essay for Vox, “The smug style in American liberalism.”

I’d be lying if I said I had no anxiety for the future of the Republic. Trump is still an egotistical authoritarian who, while probably not himself a bigot in any way, is all too comfortable with trading in bigoted sentiments in order to secure his ends. But I’m also grateful that a message has been sent, and that the Republicans’ hard efforts since the devastating unpopularity of George W. Bush seem to have finally paid off.