Historians instruct journalists that the great events they witness are rarely as momentous as they first appear once seen in the sweep of history.
If there was ever a time to ignore that old wisdom, it is now. History was made on Election Day 2016 on a grand scale and in bizarre style. The nation is stunned, incredulous and disoriented – even the victors.
Donald Trump did not win a majority of the popular vote. Yet it is fair to call his win a landslide, probably the most unlikely one ever.
But what his election will mean for the country in tangible ways over the coming years is largely unknowable.
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Trump has been vague and inconsistent on many big issues. He has not assembled the standard team of world-class advisers – former Cabinet members, top military people, economists, members of Congress and former members. His top aide just moved to the campaign from Breitbart.com.
The Republican establishment, as Trump calls them, went through phases of resisting and softly undermining him. By Election Day, they were in Trump’s camp with few exceptions, though perhaps reluctantly.
Is that GOP establishment celebrating or hitting the bottle? Some of each most likely.
Some actions from a Trump administration do seem highly likely. He will try to make conservative appointments to the Supreme Court. This will have great impact for many years.
Trump promised to repeal Obamacare and will have the support of Congress. What will replace that program is anyone’s guess. The Trans-Pacific Pact is likely dead. Tax cuts are almost certain.
Will he really build a wall, deport all the undocumented immigrants, ban all Muslims, impose “stop and frisk” on police, fire all the generals and strong arm NATO for big bucks – or else? Will he manage to assemble a staff Americans will trust? Who knows? The list of “who knows” is long.
For sure the rhetoric and behavior of this American president will be unlike anything we’ve ever seen, even in madcap comedies. How will the American people and the rest of the world respond? Who knows.
Dick Meyer writes for the Scripps Washington Bureau.