After a frantic Google search late Tuesday night, I quickly determined that there is no recipe that would make my morning’s breakfast more palatable. Crow is a dish best consumed with humility and acceptance. And after issuing my comments earlier this year about Donald Trump, it was clear that I was being served a heaping portion.
My initial concerns were, and are still, shared by Republicans of all stripes. Is this man, who has no prior experience in any level of government, capable of leading the most influential nation on the planet? Will his more aggressive and impolite tendencies dilute his temperament or cloud his judgment? This is not a mere opinion-based thought exercise. Trump’s actions are well documented and they do not reconcile with my preconceived notions of what a president should be.
But late in the evening on election night, as Trump began to run the table on the swing states, it struck me. My issues with Trump were about all the things he wasn’t. What I should have been looking at are all the things he is.
To so many people who have become disenchanted with contemporary American politics, Trump is the embodiment of a breath of fresh, clean, unadulterated oxygen.
The paradigm has shifted before our very eyes. Not since the 1980s, during the Reagan Revolution, have we seen a Republican sweep the “blue wall” of the Rust Belt: Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Indiana. This feat was not accomplished with smoke and mirrors, or even base-level political blocking and tackling. It occurred because millions of Americans are hurting and experience daily the palpable disconnect of decades of income inequality. They want to understand why the politicians in Washington yammer on about things that don’t affect their lives, while the mortgage goes unpaid, while college becomes preclusively expensive, while so many others seem to benefit from a system that doesn’t benefit them.
In Trump, they found someone who spoke to them. Not with the flowery rhetoric of a polished politician, but like their neighbor down at the coffee shop. He talked in frank terms about what they were experiencing. He saw the world like they saw it. Trump’s talk about illegal immigration, squandering of American blood and treasure and unfair trade deals hit a nerve because so many Americans felt like they have been adversely impacted by illegal immigration, general unfairness and jobs sent overseas.
To the establishment, or “cultural elite” as they were called a generation ago, the simplistic talk of a [media celebrity] wasn’t worthy of their lofty notions of how the president should engage. But to the people, Trump was crystal clear: “Things are bad for you. I am going to make it better for you.”
There is nothing new about this message. Politicians have been selling a chicken in every pot for generations. But Trump has the unique gift of being able to communicate this populist message to so many people in a real and visceral way.
Does this mean that the 47 percent of Americans who did not vote for Donald Trump will suddenly have their eureka moment and embrace him, warts and all? I don’t think so. But it should shed some light on how we arrived at this historic moment and where we may be headed.
I take comfort in the words of our current president, who urged the America people on Wednesday to acknowledge that we are all on the same team and that in the end, we all want what is best for our families, loved ones and our country. In the days that follow, as we heal together as a nation, there will certainly be gnashing of teeth, moments of doubt and marching in the streets. But there will also be light, laughter, determination and hope.
Like the ribbons of steel that are forged in the fiery heart of our homeland, “We The People” are stronger when we are bound together. As I feast on my crow, I will thank the Al-mighty for my fellow Americans and pray for healing, togetherness and unity.
Jason Villalba is a Republican member of the Texas House representing Dallas. He wrote this for the Dallas Morning News.