by John English

Two years ago I looked at 2016 as the most winnable election for Republicans in a generation. Why? Because I knew the Democrats would nominate Hillary Clinton and that her message of “it’s my turn” wouldn’t resonate.

It felt like an embarrassment of riches to have all of these qualified governors, senators, and so forth putting their names forward. (“What a deep bench!”) Some of it was also just an embarrassment. Too many people ran. Half of them ran for the publicity, like they were auditioning for a future Fox News show and a book deal. Mike Huckabee was never going to win the nomination. George Pataki was never going to win the nomination. Ted Cruz was just too weaselly to actually win the nomination, wasn’t he? You have the wrong last name, Jeb. Why was Carly Fiorina the only woman that ran?

Then Donald Trump threw his hat in the ring. I never thought the public would be foolish enough to actually vote for him. This carnival barker. This reality-TV guy who boasts of cheating on his wives, who repeatedly files for bankruptcy, who lies when it isn’t even necessary. Surely, evangelicals wouldn’t flock to him. But hey, $2 billion in free media obscures a lot.

People didn’t care he liked soldiers more who weren’t captured, but then later played with a purple heart like it was a toy. People didn’t care he bragged about sexual assault. People didn’t care he craved Putin’s approval like a neglected stepchild. People didn’t care when he called for a Muslim ban. People didn’t care his main advisor was a white nationalist who had turned Andrew Breitbart’s site into an alt-right propaganda machine, who loved to compare himself to Lenin. Some people didn’t care. Enough people didn’t care.

So he actually won the nomination and then delivered an acceptance speech at the GOP convention that sounded exactly like it was written by President Snow. All through the fall, I felt like Charlton Heston at the end of Planet of the Apes. These maniacs in the GOP had handed the election to Hillary Clinton.

I mean, surely this giant narcissist, this emotional toddler, this serial liar called Trump wouldn’t actually win, right? Yes, Hillary’s terrible, but Trump was the next Berlusconi. Do people not know who Berlusconi is?

So in the end, Hillary did win. The popular vote. By almost 3 million votes. But that’s not the game we play. Trump won the most states for a Republican since Bush 88.

Did Trump pivot once he was President-Elect? No. Has he pivoted now that he’s President? No. He’s still the strongman bully who stokes fear and tries to paint America as a hellscape that he only he can save. His mouthpieces like Conway and Spicer and Priebus have sold their souls. Remember how upset people got over Obama’s numerous executive orders? Trump’s writing those things like they’re going out of style.

Polls show that ehh, Trump supporters are fine if his staff has private emails. They’re fine if he never releases his taxes like he promised.

But not all of them are fine. No president has seen their approval rating go down between the election and their inauguration. His approval rating is at 43%. If you have 43% during your honeymoon, during your first 100 days, where do you really think you’re going to be in the summer?

Has he done anything I liked? I’m sure. My main problem with him, with this White House, is I don’t trust them. I don’t trust he has America’s best interests at heart. I don’t trust anything he says or what Spicer is told to say is true. I don’t trust a man who trusts Steve Bannon. America felt polarized before. Can’t imagine where we’re headed.

Liked it? Take a second to support Utah.Politico.Hub on Patreon!