Trump’s Election Was Not Just a Man-made Outcome

For Trump’s Backers in Congress, ‘Devil Terms’ Help Rally Voters


Charles M. Blow

July 31, 2017

In the year preceding the November 2016 election, two Republican presidents were elected. Barack Obama won reelection, in what was then the most lopsided presidential victory in American history, with 59 percent of the vote. Then came Donald J. Trump.

His election was a surprise to many. His victory was unprecedented. But his victory was predictable. Republicans had won a sweeping three-year sweep of the federal government. They had secured control of both houses of Congress. They had expanded their majority in state legislatures. They had won numerous governorships. They had captured the Republican presidential nomination and were widely expected to win the Republican presidential and vice presidential nominations. In many respects, Trump was to a large extent a man-made outcome, brought about by a coalition of big money donors tied to the president-elect—and his promises to cut taxes, eliminate regulations, and build walls along the border with Mexico. At the time, he was also a man-made outcome: a wealthy businessman without any previous political experience who made no bones about campaigning on the idea that he would upend Washington.

But Trump also became a man-made outcome. By his very presence in the White House, the nation’s first (albeit briefly) populist elected president was changing the country in ways few of his predecessors had. He was changing the country in ways few of these predecessors could have foreseen. In terms of policy, Trump’s election signaled big shifts in the way the United States operates.

The election of Donald Trump was driven not just by the policies that Trump put into practice. And to a large degree, Trump’s policies were the product of his election campaign, from his promises to lower taxes, roll back regulations, and build more walls.

Trump’s victory was also driven by a series of “devil terms” in which Trump’s backers in Congress

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