Now that Donald Trump has pulled off the biggest upset in U.S. presidential election history, he’ll have to produce on the tallest promises any president has made in recent memory.
The people who stuck with him from the moment it was clear he would be the Republican nominee are expecting nothing less than total success and are in no mood to see a GOP Congress drag its feet.
“Donald Trump listened to the people and gave voice to their concerns rather than arrogantly telling them how wrong they are,” said Freedom Alliance President Tom Kilgannon. “The people have long said they want immigration to be limited and legal, and they were ignored.”
“They want the border secured and don’t want their jobs shipped overseas,” said the longtime conservative activist. “They want honesty and integrity in government and don’t want the medical care scheme forced on them while they were lied to about it.”
The people who supported him through the most criticized presidential campaign in this century sweated blood at time but now give him full credit for doing it mostly his way and mostly turning out right.
“It was fully in his own hands and he did it,” said American Conservative Union Chairman Matt Schlapp, who was White House political director under President George W. Bush. “Only late in the campaign did he start to regularly say that the campaign was not about him but about the conservative movement’s activists and the country.”
The bipartisan distrust Mr. Trump showed toward the toward the governing elites in Washington is shared by conservatives who remained loyal to him even when they thought he might go off the rails at times.
“This is a very, very big win against his own party establishment, the media and Hillary with her $1 billion war chest,” said Oregon RNC member Solomon Yue. “We will have the House, Senate and the White House so we need to deliver now. But I expect the D.C. establishment will still work against Trump’s agenda in order to make his presidency a failure. His failure is not an option for us.”
Nor is failure an option for religious voters, who showed they’re still players in the GOP electoral coalition. Evangelicals voted in record numbers for a man who hardly fit their ideal profile of a Christian gentleman, thanks in part to the battleground-states organizing done by Pastors and Pews founder David Lane.
“Self-identified evangelicals comprised a record 26 percent of the electorate and voted 81 percent for Trump, with only 16 percent voting for Hillary Clinton,” according to the Faith and Freedom Coalition, noting that it was the lowest share of that vote ever received by a Democratic presidential nominee.
There’s little doubt he’ll come through for the Republican National committee and its Chairman, Reince Priebus, and chief strategist, who fielded a ground organization to augment the mostly modest one Mr. Trump had fielded.
The millions of gun-rights voters have little doubt about Mr. Trump’s loyalty to their cause. The National Rifle Association, which endorsed him earlier than it had any candidate in any previous cycle, put a record $50 million-plus into helping Mr. Trump’s cause and that of key GOP Senate candidates.
How as president Mr. Trump will come through on his promises will be as fascinating as his making a monkey out of his legions of detractors.
He has the knack for drawing consistently bigger crowds than all his 16 primary rivals and than former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton combined. He connected with more Americans more viscerally than any other presidential nominee in either party in recent memory.
The billionaire political neophyte’s steepest learning curve was to force himself to stay on message for more than a day. Eventually he did and won the nation’s highest office. He did it in the face of unrelenting denigration by the nation’s press, the titans of American industry and culture and many of his own party’s poobahs.
In the world of GOP orthodoxy, he said the unsayable, calling Social Security and Medicare sacrosanct and saying free trade is bad if it isn’t fair trade. He said that wasn’t protectionist but he promised tariffs and other measure anathema to free traders.
After the initial shock, secretly or openly, millions of people thrilled to his brazen, crude, engaging, funny attacks on every sacred cow in sight. Many Americans, including in the intelligentsia, felt he was releasing them, at least momentarily, from the decades-long stranglehold of political correctness.
One secret of his success is that when he said Mexican illegal immigrants are “rapists and some I assume are good people,” many — including Hispanic citizens with jobs to protect — accepted it as a hyperbolic antidote, words aimed at getting politicians serious about stemming more than a half-century of illegal immigration that had already turned the U.S. into a bilingual country without any consultation with the citizenry.
Mr. Trump complained that when he stated the obvious, his enemies called it racist. But after a while, the unmodulated repetition of the hyperbole turned off those voters that he had initially turned on. But he held on to them and won over normally Democratic working-class voters, the high-school educated men and women who have seen their jobs shifted abroad by decades of the free-trade policies of both major parties.