Donald Trump just pulled the whole thing off.
His triumphant election as the next president of the United States is the most astonishing political story of our lifetimes — maybe ever, in the history of the republic. The brash billionaire, the guy who has never done this before, just beat a fearsome, well-funded and ruthless political machine, the sitting president, and just about everybody’s expectations.
Given the monolithic opposition arrayed against him — the president, Hillary Clinton, her campaign, the Democratic Party, the Republican establishment, the international community, the mainstream media — his victory is nothing short of miraculous.
There are many reasons for his win, which was also a stunning rebuke of President Obama and eight long years of leftist policies: a desire for real economic growth, job creation, law and order, a strong national defense, a repudiation of a corrupt, rigged system and a wholesale rejection of the bipartisan ruling class.
But something else was at play.
Throughout his campaign, Mr. Trump was always at his strongest when he was a happy warrior, taking on the challenge of restoring America with joy and passion. He tended to lose ground when became angry, self-referential or defensive.
This is generally true of most candidates because most people prefer to see positivity rather than negativity reflected back to them. It’s also rooted in the very DNA of America, which has always been optimistic, forward-looking and fearless, even in its darkest days.
American voters, therefore, tend to gravitate toward candidates who reflect that national disposition. Happy warriors tend to succeed, and when difficult times inevitably arrive, their sunny temperaments can provide a reservoir of goodwill.
The term “happy warrior,” which is now firmly associated with Ronald Reagan, originated in a poem written in 1806 by English poet William Wordsworth. Written following the death of Lord Nelson at the Battle of Trafalgar, it’s an ode to the warrior who, despite battlefield defeats and painful injury, continues the fight cheerfully, because he believes in the righteousness of the cause.
This election cycle was ripe for a new brand of happy warrior who would cheerfully fight for constitutionally based first principles and steer us away from a leftist-driven decline. That’s why whenever Mr. Trump embodied the happy warrior spirit, he thrived.
Make no mistake: We are in a war for the nation’s future. Mrs. Clinton, Mr. Obama and the Democrats will always be preoccupied with the destruction of economic and personal freedom and redistributing our power and wealth globally in order to punctuate the end of American exceptionalism.
Their efforts have already led to one kind of profound change: Events that were once unthinkable are now everyday occurrences. It was once unimaginable that the United States would ever have a national debt careening toward $20 trillion, that our debt would ever be downgraded, that socialized medicine would become law, that historically weak economic growth and low labor participation would be the “new normal,” that terrorist regimes would proceed unimpeded toward nuclear weapons, that tinpot tyrants would thumb their noses at the United States, that we would spurn our closest allies while strengthening our most dangerous enemies.
The left has converted America from the king of the global jungle into a paper tiger, whom very few respect or fear any longer. Everyone from credit ratings agencies to third-rate tyrants now feels free to take a swipe at the American pinata.
This week, the American people said, “No more.”
As we move forward with our new president, we must be happy warriors, certain that traditional American values are worthy of a passionate defense and that American power is not something to be ashamed of but celebrated. The best way to temper the inevitable pain of the battle is to carry it out with good cheer, confident in our purpose, its integrity and success.
What made Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher particularly strong leaders was their vision of individual freedom and national power, their charismatic articulation of it and their ability to persuade their people that their policy path was the right one.
Today, we need people who, like Mr. Trump, are proud to make an unequivocal, unapologetic and full-throated case for America.
The legions of Trump voters represent the new breed of happy warrior. And now we know that they still exist in big enough numbers to still qualify as the Great Silent Majority.
That majority is silent no more. In fact, this week, it roared. And it now has its best, most fearless champion in Mr. Trump.
Happy warriordom is about a new positive national attitude, new leadership and new policy environment that will make the American rebound possible — and breathtaking to behold.
Mr. Trump will lead the way, supported — joyfully — by all of us.
• Monica Crowley is editor of online opinion at The Washington Times.