It is now the GOP's moment in history, not Trump's
© Getty Images

To answer how did "this" happen, look no further than the bumper-sticker lines of each candidate.

Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump nominates Jeffrey Rosen to replace Rosenstein at DOJ McCabe says ‘it’s possible’ Trump is a Russian asset McCabe: Trump ‘undermining the role of law enforcement’ MORE said he would "make American great again." Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonSanders campaign reports raising M in less than a day The Memo: Bernie Sanders’s WH launch sharpens ‘socialist’ question Roger Stone invokes gag order in new fundraiser MORE's was "I'm with her."

Voters did not want to be with a presidential candidate for his or her success. They wanted the presidential candidate to be with them, to help them succeed.

Last week, when traveling through Pennsylvania — my home state — it was clear. I wonder aloud today what I have said to so many since August: Why the overconfidence of Democrats at large and the blindness of Republicans during the primary?

Could they not see or hear the anger and frustration and boiling rage of many Americans?


Of course not. The echo chamber that infuses all in Washington and the various power hallways forgets the basics of what used to be taught to every young reporter: Do not put yourself in the story, get the name of the dog — in other words, look and embrace the details — and if you see a man digging a hole, find out why.

Translated, this means: See what is making that person in front of you act or feel the way they are.

That is the story.

What Trump said, as he echoed and doubled down on what George Wallace and Ross Perot and Pat Buchanan and others have said, was what many Americans have felt for a long time.

Americans dislike government. They are populists at heart and rarely — rarely — do they get the chance to stick it to the bosses and Wall Street and those who killed their pensions and made their candy-coated dreams sticky and sour.

Trump said, essentially, how much worse could it be with him, and Americans were ready to throw the dice.

Electing someone president is always the gamble of a throw of the dice, the battle of anger verse optimism, the tolerance of believing in the greater good as opposed to the individual need.

The reality is that, whoever won, the country would remain divided and most likely dysfunctional. The only wild-card element in the wild-card candidacy of Trump is his professed love of negotiating.

Perhaps he will negotiate with Congress to "get things done" — whatever they may be.

He likes to build, so as he runs up the national debt, he may build new roads and bridges and schools and hospitals, as he said.

He may find good, tough, project-manager folks to run departments, such as Veterans Affairs, that could use a hard spanking.

Yet government needs to be together, and now the great hope for pragmatism sadly rests on an area where it is scant at best: Congress and, specifically, the Republicans.

For weeks leading up to the vote, many Republicans were pondering how to reshape their party, to make it competitive and viable once again.

They foresaw losing control of the Senate and a Clinton win and mused on how they could work with her to achieve things for them to run on in two years.

They saw her as a one-termer.

Neither happened.

And the prickly relationship between Trump and many House and Senate members will be the first test.

There are lots of things that can be fixed. For those members of Congress who were mayors or country commissioners, you know how to do these things.

Fix the infrastructure.

And you cannot end ObamaCare and leave people without insurance.

Surprise us. It is now the Republicans' moment in history.

As for Democrats, they may find that they have their moments, if they open their eyes and ask the man why he is digging that hole.

Sen. Chuck SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerGOP Green New Deal stunt is a great deal for Democrats National emergency declaration — a legal fight Trump is likely to win House Judiciary Dems seek answers over Trump's national emergency declaration MORE of New York, the likely Democratic leader in the Senate, is as wise and accomplished as any individual.

It is now his time as well.

Democrats will spend time trying to figure out what went wrong.

It will not be hard.

Clinton was surrounded by a longtime group of loyalists who thought history was on their side and who believed they knew better than all others.

Many people saw in Clinton — rightfully so — the chance to make history with an intelligent, accomplished individual.

That is not enough.

How does any presidential candidate not visit Wisconsin at all? Or write off Michigan? Or for that matter, ignore farmers who are struggling?

These were historic Democratic constituencies, jettisoned for a new coalition that really is not a coalition but a hodgepodge of voters each with needs and dreams but with no history of togetherness.

A few weeks ago, I had lunch with a smart person who showed me statistics of voters in Maryland, Democrats in name who were trending Republican, and why Republican Larry Hogan was elected governor, another businessman making his first run for office.

He said Democrats needed to realize this and start addressing the needs of their former core supporters or else Maryland may cease to be a strong Democratic state.

This election proved his insight correct.

You can't change the wind, but you can adjust the sails, a wise editor once told me.

We will see how adept those who claim to be leaders are as bar pilots, to back and fill and, when necessary, bear away.

We need them to be.

The country had two oceans to protect it from the antics of President Andrew Jackson, the last raging populist to take the White House.

Those oceans no longer provide us with that luxury today.

Donald Trump does not drink alcohol, so it is certain he will not wake up with any hangover when he rises for the first time as president-elect.

Many others will today, however.

Many others will in a few months.

Squitieri is an award-winning reporter and communications veteran and an adjunct professor at American University and Washington and Jefferson College.

The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the views of The Hill.