President-elect Donald J. Trump. Even the most devoted confess surprise, near disbelief, that it’s real, that their guy pulled off this too-wild-for-Hollywood feat.
Take that, Crooked Hillary. Hey, liberal media, how do you like us now? This is what deplorable looks like with a ballot.
In Kansas City as elsewhere on Wednesday, Trump’s Election Day magic settled in for supporters bit by vindicating bit.
Some said watching election returns or listening to their guy’s victory speech made them tear up. Some let out hoots. Others made a point to tell their children that politics, and history, just took a momentous turn for the better.
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“I feel safer,” said Chelsea Morris, a 26-year-old mother and student working two jobs.
“I was so relieved,” said John Elliott, owner of a Northland marketing company. “I’d just assumed that we were destined and doomed to get Hillary.”
“I thought it was about time we put a businessman in charge,” said Steve Kerwin, who owns a fencing business in Platte City and has been towing a “Trump Train” made of yard art around the country since February.
Trump’s defeat of Hillary Clinton, for many, wasn’t just a triumph for a New York billionaire with improbable hair who tossed aside seemingly every rule of politics, and every formidable politician in the country, on his way to the White House.
Tuesday’s election affirmed things about themselves.
It flipped the bird at what they see as Washington do-nothings, Democrat and Republican, who talk a good game but leave borders open and the path to better jobs closed.
The victory said that tens of million others who corralled an Electoral College majority wouldn’t be silent any more.
Tuesday’s November surprise made clear that half the country has had it up to here with what it sees as political correctness too timid to protect the nation from Islamic terrorism and Muslim immigrants. Half the country cringes at the characterization, but the half that propelled Trump to the presidency will remain forever grateful for his blunt ways.
They think the Second Amendment is safe for at least four years, the Supreme Court for maybe a generation.
On Wednesday they went about their lives a little bleary eyed after drinking in the news from cable TV teams that struck them as too slow to declare the obvious. And yet even they were surprised after hearing so many brainiacs predict that Clinton was the likeliest next president.
“I was emotional,” Kerwin said. “I’d been wanting him to run since ’08.”
The fence-maker said he’ll delight at the evaporation of Obamacare, the sealing of the U.S.-Mexico border and what he hopes is an end to “all the free-loading off the taxpayers.”
He, like others, spoke as giddily of Clinton’s defeat as Trump’s triumph.
“The people are not stupid,” said Dominick Mussurici, who had hung an electronic “Vote Trump” sign on the side of his auto shop in downtown Kansas City before the election.
He sees Clinton as untrustworthy and part of a political culture in Washington, D.C., that doesn’t work for people like him. Many of the Trump voters he spoke with at his shop said the same.
Mussurici’s grandfather immigrated through Ellis Island in the early 1900s and came to Kansas City. Now, Mussurici says, too many immigrants have come to the U.S. from Mexico illegally. He is eager to see Trump stop that.
“He’s going to build a wall,” Mussurici said. “That right there is some work.”
Timothy Melin sees himself as a more traditionally conservative Republican than Trump. Still, he was happy to have blocked another Clinton from the White House, kept the Senate in Republican hands and gained a GOP governor in Missouri. Trump’s election was the lesser of two evils to him, and he’s curious to see how widely available health insurance will be when Obamacare goes away.
As he watched the returns, flipping between Fox News, CNN and BBC America, he was happily surprised.
“I thought, ‘Wow, is this actually really going to happen? … Is this real?’ ”
James Harris, a Republican political consultant, watched returns dribble in at GOP victory parties in Springfield with too-good-to-be-true awe.
By the time Trump appeared about 2 a.m. to declare victory, Harris was driving alone to his home in central Missouri. As he listened on satellite radio, he said, Trump’s words made him choke up a little. In the morning, he told his 7-year-old daughter, “This is a big day for our country. … Our future is better.”
“This is a big deal,” he said later in an interview. Harris had been a Ted Cruz guy in the primaries and had once viewed Trump skeptically. Now he looks at Trump as Ronald Reagan-like, a figure poised to make the country rethink calcified assumptions about how government should work.
“A year and a half ago, I wondered if this was just a P.R. stunt,” Harris said. “He didn’t understand that this election isn’t just about him. I think he understands it now.
“Who would ever have thought that a New York billionaire, who’s very flashy, would be a leader of the masses?”
The Star’s Ian Cummings contributed to this report.