CNN commentators and guest analysts offer their take on the 2016 presidential election’s outcome. The views expressed are their own.
Errol Louis: Now, the real pivot?
After months of riding slash-and-burn politics to victory, Donald Trump claimed the ultimate political prize – and immediately struck an unexpected note of grace and reconciliation.
Let’s hope it was genuine.
“It is time for us to come together as one united people,” Trump told a jubilant crowd at the Hilton, just days after leading followers in chants of “lock her up” – a vow to investigate and jail his opponent, Hillary Clinton.
“We will seek common ground, not hostility,” he said, weeks after vowing to sue every one of the 10 women who have alleged that Trump grabbed, groped or kissed them against their will.
And as for Trump’s many political opponents, the president-elect struck a rare note of humility. “I’m reaching out to you for your guidance and your help,” he said.
Could this be the long-awaited and oft-promised pivot Trump’s supporters said would happen? Or are we in for more of the tone of mockery, insults and bitter backlash that Trump aimed at so many during the campaign?
In this, as in so much else about this remarkable campaign, the only thing we know for sure is that America is now in uncharted territory.
Tara Setmayer: Republicans ‘won.’ But at what cost?
The Republican nominee just pulled off one of the greatest upsets in political history to take back the White House. He managed to flip Rust Belt blue states red and in doing so, helped the GOP retain its majorities in Congress. As a Republican, I should be overjoyed. But as an American first, my heart is heavy. Why? Because that nominee, now President-elect, is Donald Trump.
Yes, we “won,” but at what cost? Was it worth overlooking bigotry, integrity, mistreatment of women, dishonesty, demagoguery and common decency to sell our political souls for the prospect of a few policy victories?
Both candidates suffered from considerable character deficits. But the American people, fed up with politics as usual, threw caution to the wind and chose change. Was that choice driven more by validation of Trump or a repudiation of Clinton? How do we explain that decision to our children?
Hillary Clinton deserved to lose. She was a terrible candidate saddled by legitimate questions of honesty, trustworthiness and political corruption brought on by her own poor judgment.
As a result, Trump was able to execute the greatest con in US history. His self-indulgent reality show just became real life. He can no longer hide behind his gold plated veneer of “telling it like it is.” He must transition from platitudes to policy implementation. In other words, he must govern.
As we pick up the pieces, we need to ask ourselves who we’ve become as a country. How do we heal the divide? Can Donald Trump rise to the occasion and lead this great nation? I still have my reservations, but for the sake of our constitutional republic, I hope he can.
Tara Setmayer is former communications director for Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-California, and a CNN political commentator. Follow her on Twitter @tarasetmayer.
Raul Reyes: A dark day for US Latinos
For Latinos, this has been the most consequential presidential race in history. From day one of his campaign, when he denigrated Mexicans and immigrants, Donald Trump has made this election, in part, a referendum on our community. Consider all the times that Latinos have figured into the campaigns, from “bad hombres” to Miss Universe to “taco trucks on every corner.” We now know that a huge number of American voters are untroubled enough by his xenophobia and bigotry that they were willing to hand the keys to the White House to a reality TV star.
What has been truly lost in this personality-driven race is a serious discussion of major issues. Too often, the race devolved into personal insults and attacks. The media was complicit in this, too often setting aside the astonishing possibility of Russia meddling in our electoral process to breathlessly cover the latest Trump rally.
The surge in Latino early voting was apparently not enough to fend off the visceral appeal of Trump’s promises of change. Latinos can take pride in the uptick in our turnout, from Nevada to Florida, and in the election of the first Latina to the U.S. Senate, Catherine Cortez Masto.
But undeniably, this is a dark day for US Latinos. Everything from the Affordable Care Act, which has enabled millions of Latinos to obtain health coverage, to marriage equality, which is supported by a majority of Latinos, is now in jeopardy. Our undocumented friends, family, and neighbors are living with fear – as are millions of Latinos rightly concerned about the possible rollback of our civil rights by Republicans controlling both the executive and the legislative branch.
One of the broader questions surrounding this presidential race, often posed by the Clinton campaign, was “What kind of country do we want to be?” Sadly, that question has been answered.
Raul A. Reyes, an attorney and member of USA Today’s board of contributors, writes frequently for CNN Opinion. Follow him on Twitter @RaulAReyes.
Alice Stewart: Trump threw out presidential playbook
State by state, voters in this election went to the polls and decided they wanted to do everything they could to “Make America Great Again.”
From the escalator entrance at his announcement to the helicopter rides at the Iowa State Fair to the WWE-style entrance at the Republican National Convention – Donald Trump threw away the presidential playbook and won his way to the White House.
Unbound by the niceties of GOP primaries past, Trump created a movement, gave voice to those who felt unheard – like a tree falling in the forest – and awoke the sleeping giant of anti-establishment voters. His brash style won over hearts and minds of Republican primary voters.
Fundamentally, the Republican Party has been changed. The Republican National Committee is collateral damage and it will be President Trump’s to rebuild. Another question now is – can Speaker Paul Ryan survive?
Alice Stewart is a CNN Political Commentator, former Communications Director for Ted Cruz for President, and Republican Strategist.
Roxanne Jones: ‘Twitter is the true Voice of America’
The biggest take away from President-elect Donald J. Trump’s shocking win: Twitter is the true Voice of America. And that voice is raw, rough, raging against Washington and very, very white. Every high-priced pollster who forecast Hillary Clinton would win easily should return their paychecks. America is deeply divided and Twitter predicted it first – for free.
Trump led the charge of the angry, working-class white man – and quite a few white women – and his troops followed in force, giving him a historic victory. The former TV reality star stormed across the nation drawing in millions of new voters, pushing his us-against-them rhetoric, denigrating women, immigrants, Mexicans, Muslims and “the blacks.” Didn’t matter. It was a message millions of people were waiting to hear.
It has always been difficult to dissect the source of the hatred and mistrust aimed at Hillary Clinton. Is it sexism, racism, her hawkish foreign policies, or her too-liberal social policies? Is Clinton’s loss really about emails? Or, could it simply be that America is just not ready to put a woman in the White House? Many believe Clinton was a victim of white backlash against America’s first black president. No telling. But now, undoubtedly, there will be a rush to try to tarnish President Obama’s legacy, even though he has enjoyed the highest approval ratings of any recent outgoing president.
One thing is undeniable: Clinton never passionately connected with voters. Not with women, Latinos, Millennials, or blacks, many of whom never trusted her after she supported President Bill Clinton’s harsh drug laws that led to the mass incarceration of millions of blacks and Latinos. As one #BlackLivesMatter activist in Philadelphia, Asa Khalif, told me: “I voted for Clinton, but I was extremely saddened that Black America only had two choices, her and a racist bigot. Very dark days ahead for all of us.”
So here we stand, an angry, divided, fearful Republic. And it will up to Trump get us back together again of he is to truly win America’s heart and soul.
Roxanne Jones, a founding editor of ESPN Magazine and former vice president at ESPN, has worked as a producer and as a reporter at the New York Daily News and The Philadelphia Inquirer. She was named a 2010 Woman of the Year by Women in Sports and Events, is a co-author of “Say It Loud: An Illustrated History of the Black Athlete,” and CEO of the Push Marketing Group.