It wasn’t that hard to figure out why Romney lost in 2012. 538.com and others saw it right away. Blue collar whites in the Rust Belt simply refused to vote for him. The Obama campaign had convinced them that Romney was no friend of the working man. And maybe he wasn’t, and maybe the next Republican nominee would have to be different.
What Trump alone understood was the hatred these guys had for NAFTA and other trade deals. The Republican Party was a free trade party, and these voters wanted nothing to do with it. Libertarians and fancy pants constitutional conservatives, like me, believed in free trade as a matter of faith. Adam Smith was our go to guy, and the intellectual case for free trade was clear. Comparative advantage, and all that. Sure, there would have to be economic dislocation for a lot of working class Americans. But it was all for the greater good.
To his eternal credit, Trump saw the hole in this thinking. The burden of free trade was concentrated on a fairly small number of Americans — the ones who would lose their jobs. The benefit was widespread, and really didn’t impact most people. Politically, this was asking for trouble. By attacking these trade deals Trump would win the undying, unwavering support of as much as 1/3 of the country. Not enough to win an election, but a good base to build on, and build he did.
There were three other winning issues for Trump. He was not a politician, he wasn’t asking people for money, and he was a rogue, unscripted. Not just politically incorrect, he was brash, irreverent, and funny.
I’ve said this before, but I think it bears repeating. Trump would have lost the election if it had not been for the Washington Post. I equate NBC News with the Clinton campaign. They would do anything to stop Trump. For years they had been in possession of the Access Hollywood tape. This was the one that would sink Trump, but the timing of its release was critical. It had to come out so late in the campaign that he wouldn’t have time to recover. They wanted just enough time for saturation coverage, and no more. If that tape had come out a week before the election, instead of a month, Trump would not have recovered, and he would have lost. But the WaPo found out about the tape, and jumped the gun. They broke the story, and NBC was forced to come out with the tape prematurely. When the book is written about this campaign, this will be the section I’ll be looking for.
I think if that Access Hollywood tape had come out a year ago, Trump would not have won the nomination. His opponents, or one of them, would have beat that over his head without mercy. Forget low energy Jeb, or Lil’ Marco, or Lyin’ Ted. It would have been Trump the Groper, Donald the Horn Dog, Trump the sexual deviant and criminal. He would have been the object of ridicule. So, as far as I’m concerned, if you want to give credit where credit is due, NBC News put Trump in the White House, by covering up for him until the very end.
But the Lord works in mysterious ways, and it is not our role to second guess Him. Based on what I’ve seen so far, Trump could be as consequential a President as Reagan. And Reagan won the Cold War. Go figure. The Good Lord looks out for drunks, sailors, and the U.S.A. It is for us to be thankful.