Well, that thing that we were anticipating might happen did happen, and boy did it happen. Never again will the country be the same. The status quo before this happened is no longer the status quo. It is the past. And the past is part of history. It was a historic day.
Some people thought that it couldn’t happen, or at least not so dramatically. No one expected it to be this close, except for a few voices who kept writing that it was going to be incredibly close. I, of course, was one of those voices, and for those of you who listened to me, I’m sure you feel vindicated. Much like the winning party.
One thing is for sure: this election will bring a new dynamic to Washington, because it has shown leaders in Congress and the White House what is possible in today’s fractured political environment. Democrats really learned their lesson. Republicans also learned a lesson, which is probably different than the Democratic lesson but is equally important. It’s safe to say that everyone learned something, and now their sense of what is possible will be changed for good.
But will they take what they’ve learned and apply it to political contests in the future? We’ll have to wait and see. I have many opinions about this topic, and in the next several weeks I will roll out these opinions one by one. My arguments will be convincing and trenchant, and people will share them with like-minded friends on social media. I will expertly weave together evidence like anecdotal on-the-ground conversations and survey data to demonstrate the validity of my arguments about the incontrovertible transformations in our political world.
For instance, I was down in the Congressional District before the Special Election, and I spoke to a volunteer in a local diner who told me that people were energized like she had never seen. “They’re amped up,” she said. “Something is different about this year.” How correct she was, I thought as we ate a characteristic specialty dish of this corner of Main Street America.
She then drew a metaphor between the food and the electorate. “This town is pretty unique, just like that food you’ve got on your dish there. Of course, there are aspects of it that are similar to what you’d find in other places, but there are parts of it that you can only find here.” In other words, I gleaned, we should be careful to generalize too much from the results of this election.
Nonetheless, the results do have national implications. Just look at the statistics. A recent Pew study showed that only about 20 percent of Americans trust the government to do what’s right most of the time. Also, Millennials are now the largest living generation in the country. Is there a relationship between these two trends, or did I just pull them randomly after clicking a few buttons on Pew’s website? Either way, this election shows that the political class needs to reach out to Millennials.
In short, we are living through a period of huge change, as this political story shows. President Trump and Congress would do well to heed what the electorate has clearly showed in the specific, but also generalizable, events of this week. Because in the future, more things like this might happen, or they might not.