Early on the morning of November 8, there were two men on my mind, my father and my brand new grandson.
My father, Michael J. Dowd, was a proud son of Clare, raised in the tiny village of Fanore looking at the Burren out the front door and the Atlantic Ocean in back.
He emigrated to the United States in 1915, joined the army in exchange for his U.S. citizenship, and settled in Washington, D.C. after he fought for his adopted country in World War I.
He joined the Metropolitan police force in 1919 and quickly rose through the ranks in the detective bureau. In 1946, he was promoted to the rank of captain and assigned to the U.S. Capitol where he was in charge of the security for the U.S. Senate. Over the next twelve years, he would become arguably one of the most powerful lawmen in the country, consiglieri and friend to the 96 U.S. Senators.
He was also a lifelong Democrat. The party was the natural home for immigrants, the poor, ethnic groups, the middle class workers who built the country.
He was also a strict Catholic.
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I reflected on what he would make of our culture today: incivility and bad manners taken for granted, rudeness routine, soft porn and sexual content in every TV show (network and cable), constant Viagra ads during sporting events, a flight from religion, an obsession with electronic gadgets and social media, and absolutely no respect for a differing opinion.
It was this culture that brought us Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump as candidates for President of the United States, the most important job on the planet.
Barack Obama was elected president in 2008. He promised to transform America and eight years later it did look a lot different. He appointed two activist Supreme Court justices, he neutered the military, he completely politicized two departments, IRS and Justice, he stood silent as the media waged a despicable campaign against the police turning career criminals into celebrated victims and he resolutely refused to say the words, “Islamic terrorist.”
Full disclosure: I have been a Republican since I began my professional career and discovered that my twin reimbursements – net and gross pay – did not resemble each other.
The Republicans had a deep bench with over a dozen former governors and senators ready to compete for the nomination.
I was convinced that the electorate wanted someone who would say what was on their mind, boldly walk through the political minefield of political correctness carefully cultivated over the last seven years by the president and his Democratic allies. I was sure America was ready for some red meat after being force-fed Barack Obama’s tofu. The middle class, that I grew up in, was slowly being suffocated by big government and over regulation. Where was the outrage?
Hillary Clinton was Obama’s hand-picked successor. He wanted someone to protect his legacy and prevent the undoing of all the changes he effected. In picking her, he bypassed his loyal vice president, Joe Biden. It was a curious choice.
Clinton was a weak campaigner with a documented history of unsavory dealings. She is declared unlikeable by 55% of the electorate and untrustworthy by 67%. And she was investigated by the Obama administration and the FBI for arrogantly setting up her own email system while Secretary of State.
When the director of the FBI laid bare her “gross negligence” and then announced there would be no prosecution, you could hear the heavens thunder for justice. Not since O.J. Simpson had someone so obviously guilty by the facts, walked away. A separate investigation tying the Clinton foundation contributions to speeches made by Bill adds to the pungent aroma that routinely hovers above them. Bill only added to it with his surprise thirty minute visit to the attorney general on the tarmac at the Phoenix airport, a stunt even a first year law student knows is verboten.
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The Republican apple cart was turned upside down by businessman Donald Trump. He dispatched the other Republicans with a mix of bombast and incivility never seen before. He gave voice to a new silent majority, crushed by the last seven years of Democratic rule and fed up with the myriad, mindless regulations shoved down their throat. He had the right message, but was he the right messenger?
Abandoned by his own party and facing the most formidable political machine in history, Trump made several maddening missteps, allowing Clinton and her team to lure him into petty disputes. They rolled out women to testify against him, a curious strategy considering Bill Clinton’s sordid past. He was declared politically dead numerous times but kept coming back in the polls.
On election day, an average of all polls had him losing by three points nationally and a probable electoral landslide.
The other person I was thinking about that morning was Kevin Robert Dowd, born seven weeks ago. Every parent wants a better life for their children than they had themselves. I had been reminding people that the new president would certainly have two and maybe as many as four Supreme Court nominations. These picks would determine the direction of the court for the next generation. I wanted someone to make them that respected the rule of law and supported the police. That person was certainly not Hillary Clinton.
I thought again of my dad and my grandson and went to the local school and voted for Donald Trump. In the end, the forgotten middle class, completely taken for granted by both Hillary and Obama, rose up in a populist fury and delivered 3 states and 46 electoral votes to Donald Trump, many of them propelled by Clinton’s remark about “deplorables.”
My dad told me he stayed up all night to see the results of the 1948 election of his friend, Harry Truman. I thought of that as the clock neared 3am in my house.