Donald J. Trump was elected the 45th President of the United States early Wednesday morning, ending the most ridiculous presidential race in recent history with the outcome that no one saw coming — except for maybe Trump himself.
After a tumultuous election cycle which saw tensions between the left and the right reach new extremes on a national stage — deepening the divide further than it has been in years — Trump narrowly pulled out a victory over Hillary Clinton, ushering in a new era of American politics.
The 70-year-old has long been considered a longshot to win the presidency, from the moment he announced his intent to run up until the closing of the first polls on Tuesday night. However, polls underestimated Trump at every step of the way, and his prediction that the silent majority would turn out in favor of him ended up being correct.
At close to 3 a.m. on Wednesday, the president elect took the stage at the Trump campaign headquarters in New York City to thank his supporters and outline his vision for the United States. His speech elicited themes of unity and healing, ones rarely seeing during Trump’s campaign over the last two years.
“Ours was not a campaign, but rather an incredible and great movement made up of millions of hard working men and women who love their country and want a better brighter future for themselves and their families,” Trump said. “Every single American will have the opportunity to fulfill his or her potential. The forgotten men and women if this country will be forgotten no longer.
Trump’s campaign was marred by inflammatory racist and sexist language that alienated a large portion of the American electorate and turn off large parts of both the Democratic and Republican party.
Despite this, the bombastic businessman was able to rally support among a white American middle class feeling disenfranchised by the democratic process and a country they saw as leaving them behind.
Clinton was the favorite coming into the night, with many seeing her as a competent if flawed candidate who could handily beat Trump on election night. Her campaign was overshadowed by the revelation that she used a private email server in her time as Secretary of State, something she couldn’t escape despite no charges being brought against her.
Early on Tuesday evening, the two candidates were neck and neck, but the first domino fell in Trump’s favor when he captured Florida, considered a toss-up state that could all but guarantee a Clinton victory if she won there. Instead, the momentum carried over to wins in North Carolina, Wisconsin and Ohio — the latter of which voted for President Barack Obama in back to back elections.
Trump’s victory, coming on the heels of President Obama being the first African-American to hold the title of commander-in-chief, led a campaign reliant on legitimizing xenophobia, misogyny and racism as middle class white voters saw their country being taken away from them.
Months ago, he was the unlikely winner among the Republican presidential candidates. Over time, he captured the imagination of more and more American voters who wanted an outsider to the political system, giving a voice to citizens who felt that they had fallen to the wayside among the increasing partisanship in Washington.
“It is time for us to come together as one united people,” Trump said on Wednesday. “America will no longer settle for anything less than the best.”
A version of this article appeared in the WSN 2016 Election Issue. Email Alex Bazeley at [email protected]