Dear Mr. Trump,
The election was flawed but certainly not rigged. On Dec. 19, the Electoral College will, for the second time in 16 years and third time in history, reject the candidate who received the plurality of the votes. On that date, you will be officially pronounced the next president of the United States. Once again we will rejoice in the peaceful transition of power just as the Founding Fathers intended. As one who dearly loves this nation, I pray you will unite our deeply divided populace.
It is important you remember that such a victory falls short of a mandate from the American people, as GOP Sen. Mitch McConnell has already reminded you. Treating it as such will only make it more difficult to unify the people. Be humbled that you lost the popular vote against a flawed candidate.
Your election amounted to the biggest upset in American electoral history, for which you are to be congratulated. Analysts reminded us throughout the campaign how demographics worked against you. They were not wrong. Minorities, women and the youth voters did not support you. However, you managed to gain among Latinos and African-Americans a couple percentage points more than Mitt Romney achieved in 2012. This helped you squeak by in the battleground states you needed to carry to win the Electoral College.
There is, however, a demographic that has given you a mandate. Sixty percent of Americans do not have a college degree. Among whites without a college degree, you held a whopping 49-percentage-point advantage. Without this group, you could not have won.
This is the demographic that suffered the most from the great recession and recovered the least these past eight years. This is the angriest constituency. They are the people who most feel disassociated from government. They firmly believe they are not listened to. They believe, with good reason, that the system is geared to serve powerful special interests and the elites they represent.
Mr. Trump, this was not so much a contest between Democrats and Republicans. Your vice presidential candidate was the only true Republican on the ballot for the two major parties. Your win was not a win for any political ideology, as you have made clear you don’t register at either end of the political spectrum, which I believe to be a good thing.
It was a battle of change vs. status quo, also a good thing. You called this a movement, and you were not wrong.
The 2016 election was a Jacksonian moment. More than any election since Jackson’s victory over Adams, this one pitted populism against Hamiltonian elitism. Your opponent was perceived as an elitist, while you sold the American people on the notion of you being a change agent.
You owe everything to this demographic. To them, change trumped both experience and character. Exit polling revealed 61 percent of voters believe you unqualified to serve in the Oval Office. A similar percentage believe you to be untrustworthy. Roughly 20 percent of those same voters did cast ballots for you.
That is how important it is to them that you succeed in bettering their lives. Failing them will most likely mean a one-term presidency.
I do not envy you for the task you bear. You made this demographic promises you may find impossible to fulfill. You won’t stem the tide of technology, the single greatest factor in lost manufacturing jobs. You can, however, work to rebuild our infrastructure, which would create jobs. You could work on the creation of clean energy jobs.
There is much you can do for the disassociated, and my prayers are with you.
Michael Adkins is a former chair of the Hancock County Democratic Party. He lives in Greenfield.