Americans who went to be comfortable in the assumption that their country would never elect a madman have to come to grips this morning with a world in which facts do not always triumph over what people want to be true. And on Tuesday, November 8, 2016, Americans wanted the comforting lies of Donald J. Trump.
The Clinton bastion of Florida fell, and other states we thought the Democrats would never lose: Pennsylvania and Michigan. The reaction of television’s talking heads showed their surprise.
The topic of conversation went from the assumption of a Clinton win to one of dismay in the space of about two hours. As Florida tipped to Trump and Pennsylvania and Michigan hung in the balance, talk suddenly went from “how could Trump win without Florida?” to “is there a path to victory for Hillary Clinton?”
Sometime in the wee hours of the morning, after 2 am Eastern Time, Hillary Clinton called Donald Trump to concede, something Trump had promised never to do, even if he clearly lost.
Some may take comfort that Trump did not win a popular vote landslide, but the electoral vote told the tale. The tally as of this writing is 276 electoral votes for Trump and 218 for Clinton.
In his acceptance speech, Trump at the Midtown Hilton in New York City, Trump said “Now it’s time for America to bind the wounds of division. I say it is time for us to come together as one united people.”
He acknowledged that Clinton had called him and congratulated her on “a very hard-fought campaign.”
He added, “We owe her a major debt of gratitude for her service to our country. I mean that very sincerely,” he said to applause.
Hillary Clinton did not give a concession speech last night. Instead, her campaign chairman John Podesta stepped on stage and told the crowd to go home and sleep, that “We are not going to say anything more tonight.”
MSNBC’s Chuck Todd put it this way as Election Day arrived: “The nation’s democracy has been battered by a category 5 political storm unlike anything seen in the modern era.” But it is so much worse than that.
The old lament is “if wishes were horses,” but sometimes wishes are much worse than that. They are nightmares.