There are many thoughts on how Donald Trump was elected President in 2016. This is the core, underlying issue as I see it. This comes from listening to the concerns at the grassroots level. Here goes.
The Tea Party movement began as a rejection of the profligate spending in Bush 43’s second term. The final straw was TARP. The Bush 43 Administration opened the door to federal government ownership of private companies. The failure of many of these companies can be directly traced to their reaction to federal government policies under the Clinton Administration and continued (to some extent) under Bush 43.
The Tea Party worked to recruit and elect pro-limited government candidates in opposition of President Obama’s spending policies. Since spending bills originate in the House, that was the target of the Tea Party movement’s efforts. They successfully flipped the House of Representatives in historic fashion in 2010 only to see these conservative politicians swallowed up by the DC Establishment. Speaker Boehner’s excuse was, “We’re only one half of one third of the federal government.” Republicans needed control of the Senate as well. In the end, nothing changed.
Heeding Speaker Boehner’s advice, the Tea Party movement worked to flip the Senate to Republican control in 2014. (It should be noted that during the Obama Administration, Democrats lost over 1,000 state governorships and state legislative races.) The federal government continued to grow. There were some legislative wins. For the most part, nothing changed.
So, the mood was set going into the 2016 Presidential election. Upwards of 20 Republicans filed as presidential candidates. Several were relatively unknown nationally and were not serious contenders. There were a few firebrands who were viable. Mostly, they reassembled traditional candidates who had risen through local, state and National political office. Experience had shown that traditional candidates tended to preserve the status quo. Many Americans had rejected “politics as usual” and the massive growth of that government accompanied it.
There was one candidate who looked and acted differently. That candidate raised his hands when others did not have the courage to. That candidate spoke against the Establishment when others cowered. They were part of The Establishment. They followed the political class’ career path. One didn’t. Yes, he said things that made you cringe from time to time. Yes, there were things in his past that you didn’t support. (Isn’t that true with every candidate?)
This one candidate differentiated himself. He fought back. This was a complete departure from what we were accustomed to seeing. While other candidates disappeared like Homer Simpson into a hedgerow, this candidate broke ranks. He proudly advocated that we need to take care of America before other countries. We had problems we needed to fix here first. It makes sense that we need our house in order before we can effectively lead. This resonated with the country. He defended the military. He defended law enforcement. He spoke to issues people outside of major cities dominated by liberal policies for decades and decaying as a result.
Slowly, perhaps improbably, this candidate emerged as his party’s nominee. The frustration of almost a decade of effort to shake up the DC power structure with little to show for it had boiled over. Maybe it was time to send an outsider to the White House? Maybe it was time to send someone willing to disrupt the DC Establishment? Sure. There may be parts of government we like that may be casualties of the shakeup. Seeing that the federal government causes so many problems, chances were more negative aspects affected than positive ones. It was not devotion to an individual. It was a commitment to principles.
That is why Donald Trump was elected President.