The polls were wrong, the pundits were wrong, the establishment was wrong. But the people got it right, electing the populist billionaire Donald Trump—and rejecting the ultra-progressive Hillary Clinton—as our 45th president.
They also gave Trump a Republican Congress, as well as 33 Republican governors to work with. It was a tsunami victory for the GOP and the conservative movement that supplied its politicians with ideas.
For more years than anyone can remember, the American people have been saying that the country is headed in the wrong direction and that they wanted change. Serious change.
They found it in the person of Donald Trump, who took his campaign where no Republican had gone in decades—to Michigan, Wisconsin, and other parts of rustbelt America—and brought back into the GOP a group previously known as “Reagan Democrats.”
Trump also performed better than expected in the African-American community because, it appears, he took time to visit and talk with them.
This election may go down as a realigning election because it meets two key criteria: (1) A major political party has been seriously weakened, and (2) a new political leader with new ideas has acquired the reins of power. Certainly the Republican Party—that is, the conservative party in our country—now dominates the political landscape.
In the new year, the new president and the new Congress must begin delivering on campaign promises such as repealing Obamacare, nominating respecters of the Constitution to the Supreme Court, improving border security, and repairing our badly run-down bridges and roads.
For their part, conservatives can offer solutions based on the first principles of limited government, free enterprise, and individual freedom. The Heritage Foundation has already been working with the Trump transition team, at its invitation, on policy alternatives and personnel possibilities.
Heritage is using as a model the 1980 “Mandate for Leadership” manual that President Ronald Reagan adopted for his administration. Reagan liked the conservative proposals of “Mandate” so much that he had copies placed before each member of his Cabinet at their very first meeting.
Almost two-thirds of the “Mandate” recommendations were eventually adopted, either in whole or in part, during the Reagan years. Heritage would like to match that record in the next four years.
As it moves forward, the Trump administration will face many powerful pressures to compromise, to settle for less, and to cut deals with special interests. As it has for 40 years, Heritage will argue that conservative policies are the best policies because they are based on one basic, time-tested idea: freedom works.
The historic results of the 2016 election offer a golden opportunity that must not be wasted.