Trump Train rides through Ely
This week’s headline atop the front page - An election night for the ages - speaks volumes.
Shock waves continue to reverberate around the globe and throughout the United States in the midst of Donald Trump’s stunning victory in the presidential race.
It was a triumph that may know no match in American electoral history.
Indeed, even as the returns began pouring in on Tuesday night, and the raw vote total clearly signalled a Trump upset, many of the TV talking heads were rattling off talking points fueled by faulty pre-election poling as well as Election Day exit polls.
It was as if the pundits were trying to talk themselves into believing Clinton was heading toward a decisive win when the evidence clearly showed the opposite. They were expressing one narrative while the voters were delivering a thunderous and divergent message - one that took hours to recognize.
In many ways, the reaction by the television analysts was a microcosm of the entire race.
One side was tone deaf, while the other struck a chord that truly resonated with the voters.
Trump took a populist, anti-establishment message to the electorate and it was well received, particularly in rural areas across the nation.
The tremors of a Trump victory were felt even in traditionally true blue Minnesota and the northeastern part of the state.
Trump came within a whisker of becoming the first GOP nominee to win Minnesota in 44 years, and Iron Range precincts that often select Democratic presidential candidates by two-to-one margins instead flipped to Trump.
It was a red Trump wave across the extended Ely area, with the business mogul outpolling Democrat Hillary Clinton in Ely, Winton, Babbitt and Embarrass - all by comfortable margins.
Trump even eked out a seven-vote win in Morse Township and scored a seemingly incomprehensible win in HIbbing, where President Obama won by 30 points four years ago.
The question for Clinton and Democrats to ponder is how it could happen, but make no mistake, the seeds for a Trump win had been planted long ago.
There are two Americas, and there are two Minnesotas as well, and the differences between those of us in the outstate and the Twin Cities metro are striking.
The state of the region’s economy is spotty at best, with too many jobs in the low-paying service industries and not enough of the good paying variety that convince families to make Ely their home.
The Range’s mining industry has contracted, and is under attack from environmental interests who carry enormous influence in the state’s DFL party.
Far too often, the legitimate worries of the Range are brushed off by Twin Cities elitsts., an attitude that’s not exclusive to Minnesota.
In far too many states across the nation, dual economies exist: a thriving, diversified one in urban areas with rural communities all but dying on the vine.
Too many jobs have left while those that remain lag in pay and benefits. Entire industries have come under attack.
For all of Trump’s personal misgivings, and there are many, the business mogul was quick to pick up on the nation’s rural/urban economic divide and took the issue head on.
With a simple slogan, “Make America Great Again,” caught fire in the rural areas left behind.
Communities are hurting, paychecks are lagging, health insurance premiums are skyrocketing, and the Clinton candidacy stood as a symbol of status quo.
It should really come as no surprise that Trump’s message resonated, particularly in the so-called “Rust Belt” states. In Pennnsylvania, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin, all states carried by President Obama four years ago, rural and working class voters provided Trump the margins for his shocking victory. Minnesota nearly came along for the ride.
Eight years ago, Election Day brought a tide of new voters, many of whom cast ballots for the first time and were captivated by Obama’s message of hope.
This time around, there were anecdotal local reports of another new wave of voters - some who had spent their entire adult lives without ever casting a ballot - showing up to overturn the status quo and ride the Trump Train.
Trump tapped into the very real urban-rural split and capitalized, earning the keys to the White House as a result.
The never-ending campaign, particularly in the final weeks, brought out the worst of American politics, many of the faithful on both sides and the candidates themselves.
The aftermath, at least from the key principals, has been admirable. Trump’s victory speech was measured and conciliatory, Clinton was exceedingly gracious and Obama was pure class: ensuring a smooth transition of power.
Reaction elsewhere was not as serene, with social media fueling emotional meltdowns and some even taking to the streets in cities across the country to protest the result.
We’d all do well to follow the lead of Trump, Clinton and Obama and step back a bit and look forward. The election is over and the business of governing is at hand.
The task of uniting a divided nation is daunting after any election and is doubly so after the brutal, nearly two-year political war that ended Tuesday. That’s one of just many challenges facing President-elect Trump. We wish him well and that the entire nation, from the largest cities to rural areas such as ours, will share in prosperity during his tenure.