Charlie Harper: First Take on Election Results

Charlie Harper

Wednesday, November 9th, 2016

The magnitude of this upset is stunning. It's frankly going to take a while to set in.  For some of us, more than others.

Beware of media narratives that put this in partisan tones.  Yes, Republicans made a clean sweep (White House, Senate, House).  But if you choose to view this election in purely partisan terms, you're going to miss the point - regardless which party best represents your views.

While I hate the terms, this election can best be described as "the establishment" verses the "anti-establishment".  Democrats are going to have a real hard time with this, because on November 8th, their party represented the establishment. They were the party of the status quo.

Let's go back to the primaries to illustrate this point. Donald Trump was so outside the GOP that there was little evidence he's ever supported most GOP causes. Hillary is the consummate DC and Democratic insider.

Trump took on the GOP establishment and beat it into submission. Hillary used the Democratic establishment via Super Delegates (with a lot of inside help from both the DNC and the press) to barely beat back a similar rebellion within her own party.

The result is that a restless electorate tried to tell both parties during the primaries that they are grossly unhappy with the state of the country, and specifically, their economic standing and/or path to prosperity. The Republicans nominated the one most likely to shake up the system. The Democrats nominated the person most likely to nominate the status quo.

The American people are unhappy with the status quo. That doesn't mean there is consensus on a solution. We live in a political world where the easiest position to defeat is the one in the middle. It will be beaten to death from both the left and the right.

There is danger and opportunity here for Republicans. People were sold "Hope & Change" 8 years ago. They got the change, but these election results show they're lacking in hope.

If Washington Republicans presume it's business as usual - long on promises, short on results that affect average, working class Americans - 2018's midterms will be brutal.

This election is about a demand for change that includes hope. If Republicans fail to deliver and only rearrange the deck chairs where the spoils favor R's instead of D's, we will teeter on the brink a bit longer.

IF Republicans get serious about solving real problems and articulate how and why, this experiment with a Deal Maker in Chief may pay off. If not...I really don't want to think about how much further down this rode of partisan gridlock and division will go.

It's not going to be easy. Democrats will be no more willing to accept Trump as legitimate as many Republicans weren't to accept Obama ( many Dems weren't of Bush.) Republicans are going to have to start as gracious winners. Then they're going to have to get to work immediately. There will be little or no honeymoon.

Charlie Harper is the Executive Director of PolicyBEST, a public policy think tank focused on issues of Business & Economic Development, Education, Science & Medicine, and Transportation. He’s also the publisher of, a website dedicated to State & Local politics of Georgia.