Tomorrow millions of people will head to the polls and cast their vote for the next President of the United States. Many polls already suggest Hillary will win, and assuming she does, this strange, bizarre creature of a candidate, Donald Trump, will go quietly back from whence he came, right?
Maybe… But probably not.
For a month or two he’ll be good for a slew of asinine claims of voter fraud. He’s already stated that if he loses it is because the election is rigged, and if your Facebook feed is anything like mine, it’s filled with more fake news stories about dead people voting then you can count.
But eventually all of the craziness will subside, most likely by inauguration day. The elephant standing in the room and the question I find absolutely fascinating is what happens to all of the Trump supporters?
What I took away most from his campaign is that Trump tapped into something no Republican has been able to tap into in recent memory. His inflammatory rhetoric about immigrants, the political establishment, and the Republican base ignited something in his supporters with a passion I’ve never seen before. His political rallies look like a sporting event or a concert.
He was able to bring to the surface the feelings of many middle class, blue collar, mostly white male Americans who are watching the world change in front of their eyes with no power to do anything about it and no signs of it ever going back to the way it was. The factory jobs of the rust belt and elsewhere have left the U.S., maybe never to return. The fossil fuel industry and the millions of jobs it provides are being threatened by newer, cheaper, greener alternatives. For many Americans, Trump is one of the last gasps of air they feel like they have left.
The completely visceral response Trump supporters had towards him will not subside and go quietly into the sunset. Trump was able to turn them against the Republican Party and it’s establishment. First in the primaries, then during the waves of Republican elite’s who spoke against him or wouldn’t support him.
So it will be very interesting to see where the Republican Party goes from here. They cannot ignore or deny the millions of people who rallied behind Trump’s message, who chose that message over 16 other Republican candidates with traditional Republican messages.
The Republican base will almost certainly have to adopt some of the Trump message to win future Senate and House seats, and if that’s the case the Republican Party could take an even deeper turn towards the extreme.