The election of Donald Trump as president has been regarded by some as a black swan event: an extremely rare occurrence so unexpected and consequential that it generates stunning changes in the existing order.
But in retrospect, the election of Mr. Trump is not the black swan event.
No, the election of Barack Obama was the seismic aberration.
And the triumph of Mr. Trump is the national self-correction back to the center-right, a state of normalcy, and most importantly, to the country’s natural and rightful exceptionalism.
It turns out that Mr. Trump is the rule, while Mr. Obama was the anomalous exception.
The Obama cult of personality was built primarily on five things: the dynamism of the man, the power of his personal story, the change he represented (generational, political, racial), the emotional draw of white guilt, and the call on the American heart for idealism. The Clintons, quickly cast out as the old brand, were replaced by the new Obama brand that promised a different kind of politics.
He was brilliant, savvy, charismatic and a superb rhetorician who knew how to win. Perhaps even more importantly, as the first viable black candidate for president, he allowed white America to believe it had advanced toward vanquishing racism once and for all in the ultimate feel-good moment.
Mr. Obama had never expressed an unadulterated love for America, only deep critiques of its racial divides, social and economic injustices, and bullying ways in the world. His detached persona mirrored a detachment from fundamental American values.
It helped that he was cool, as in “hip,” but he was also cool as in “unflappable,” which came in handy as he led the leftist revolution. How could someone that seemingly rational want to radicalize the United States? Most people would not believe the truth about him and his motives — until it was too late.
Once he was sworn in as president, however, the American people took a backseat to his redistributionist agenda. After all, the people weren’t critical to his plans. In fact, we were an impediment to them, something to be finessed, lied to and manipulated. As Jon Stewart aptly noted in Rolling Stone in fall 2011, “I think he was already kind of over us by the time he got into office.”
To Mr. Obama, any public disapproval of his plans needed to be removed or crushed. Campaigning as a transcendent figure and governing as a committed redistributionist involved two different skill sets. Once he became president, the unifying, amber-lit guy disappeared and was replaced by the guy who slapped down Republican congressional leaders and the American people with a curt “I won” and a relentless forward march toward executive actions and strictly party line dictates.
As time passed, the Obama hypnosis began to wear off and the redistributionists’ agenda ripened. Pretty soon, “stimulus,” omnibus spending, bailouts, Obamacare, Dodd-Frank financial regulation, and suffocating regulations by the Environmental Protection Agency and National Labor Relations Board were no longer the dynamic new policies of the hip president but the destructive policies of a president bent on deconstructing America. Despite his assurances that he’d deliver glowing economic results, he instead produced crippling economic weakness.
Within a few months of their takeover, the Democrats’ casualties began to pile up. In November 2009, voters in deep-blue New Jersey and purple Virginia elected Republican governors. In January 2010, voters in even bluer Massachusetts elected a Republican senator, Scott Brown, to replace Edward Kennedy. In November 2010, voters across the country swept Republicans into control of the House and closer to control of the Senate, which they ultimately delivered in another Republican-sweep year, 2014.
Last week, the voters delivered the final coup de grace to Mr. Obama and his agenda, by turning control of the White House, the Senate and House and about two-thirds of the nation’s governorships and state legislatures over to Republicans.
Shortly after he was elected, Mr. Obama and his supporters in the political class told us that he had redrawn the political map by creating a new, long-term Democrat majority. Instead, by ramming through his leftist agenda, he decimated his party and created the conditions for its complete reversal. And he gave rise to a Republican populist who has already succeeding in redrawing the political map in ways that threaten the Democrats’ long-term viability.
That is a supreme irony, and perhaps his real legacy.
After being led on this long detour into the desert by a faux political Moses in Mr. Obama, we are now being led out of it by a more improbable but authentic political Moses in Donald Trump.
And while the actual black swan event is coming to its end, the guy from Queens, N.Y., is already beginning to restore our equilibrium.
Have PoliticalMavens.com delivered to your inbox in a daily digest by clicking here