As president-elect, Donald J. Trump now must transition from bare-knuckled candidate to statesman. He made a good start in the early morning hours Wednesday when he accepted a concession call from rival Hillary Clinton and followed it with a victory speech that was strikingly upbeat, inclusive and, yes, magnanimous.
Trump proved that his talk of a movement was more than just talk. His base, returns show, indeed was bigger than just the white working class. He got more votes among college-educated whites than did Clinton. He pulled in nearly 30 percent of the Hispanic vote and even 8 percent from blacks. Many of those voters backed Trump not because of the hateful speech he often indulged in, but despite it. And he has made them some high-minded promises: that the “forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer” and that “every single American will have the opportunity to realize his or her fullest potential.” Over the course of an astounding campaign, Trump proved himself a magnetic, larger-than-life character, capable of alienating as many as he drew in. He paints in broad, vivid strokes. He did it again Wednesday, telling Americans they must “dream big and bold and daring.” To make good on those promises, Trump will have to reach out to many he crossed on his way to the White House.
He made a needed step in that direction Wednesday by saying that “for those who have chosen not to support me in the past … I’m reaching out to you for your guidance and your help.” His call to build unity may be aided, oddly enough, by the person his supporters want to lock up. In defeat, Clinton urged her supporters to accept the results, saying that “we owe him an open mind and the chance to lead.”
Trump should take this opportunity to quash any further talk of tormenting his former opponent with more hearings or the prospect of prison. American voters have placed a grave responsibility in his hands. To succeed, Trump will have to search within for what has eluded him to this point: maturity, judgment, discipline and humility.
The campaign is over. His side won. It’s time to govern.