President-elect Donald Trump struck the right note in his victory speech when he called for unity and declared “it’s time for America to bind the wounds of division.”
The country could not be more divided, after an election in which Democrat Hillary Clinton narrowly won the popular vote while Trump prevailed decisively in the Electoral College.
Before Trump can make good on his pledge to “be president for all Americans,” though, he will have to address the fears of many who dread what his presidency will bring.
Their fears are well founded after a campaign in which Trump disparaged, bullied and demeaned groups to which more than half the populace belong.
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At the same time, those who opposed Trump, including this editorial board, must acknowledge that he tapped into a deep well of anxiety among those he called “the forgotten men and women of our country.”
Trump was elected by Americans who feel left out and left behind by the economy, the culture and the “elites” — and who went undetected and overlooked even by pollsters.
Kentuckians were loud and clear in their support for Trump, who bested the last Republican nominee Mitt Romney by 115,752 votes in Kentucky while Clinton received 50,536 fewer votes than did President Barack Obama in 2012. Clinton carried only the state’s two largest counties, Fayette and Jefferson, as 59 percent of eligible Kentuckians turned out to vote.
In a historically stunning sweep, Republicans not only took control of the state House for the first time in 95 years, they also achieved a supermajority of at least 62 of the 100 seats, giving Gov. Matt Bevin the vehicle to achieve his policy ambitions.
Clinton, who would have made history as the first woman president, offered superb qualifications to steer the machinery of government in a year when many were more in the mood to blow up the machine. The same visceral populism propelled Sen. Bernie Sanders’ strong quest for the Democratic nomination.
If Trump is not to disappoint his followers, he will have to up his game exponentially. His simplistic anti-trade, anti-immigrant promises cannot restore economic security to workers displaced by technology and globalism. In a complex world, the president of the world’s most powerful country cannot get by on bluster.
For the good of not just this country but the planet, we hope Trump succeeds. As Clinton said in her concession speech, “We owe him an open mind and a chance to lead.”