AMERICA: ‘YOU’RE HIRED!’
Come Jan. 20, 2017, Donald Trump will be the leader of the free world.
Trump’s runaway victory in South Dakota’s general election was as predictable as his electoral college win was shocking. Few prognostictators gave him a shot. The polls and betting markets depicted him as a clear underdog. The New York Times gave Trump a 15-percent chance.
Still, he won, and members of the Augustana community responded.
For government professor Joel Johnson, uncertainty will be the theme of Trump’s tenure going forward.
“I’m not sure anyone has a good read on it,” Johnson said. “Is he truly a dealmaker? Is he the sort of person who will make deals with whoever in Congress might [agree] with him? He’s not beholden to many people in his office, which gives him a range of motion that most presidents don’t have.”
Government professor Joseph Dondelinger, who teaches courses on international affairs and who twice served as a member of the Luxembourg Mission to the United Nations, said much of the same regarding Trump’s foreign policy.
Dondelinger said that it’s “much too early to even speculate” on the issue, adding that “as [Trump] develops his foreign policy team, that will become clearer.”
Cara Beck, the chair of the Augustana Republicans, said she and her group are optimistic for the future of both their party and the U.S., despite the election being “horribly divisive.”
“It is time to rebuild, come together and move forward as a unified country to face the days ahead,” she said.
Government professor Emily Wanless had some optimism on the issue of division, saying that “I am a firm believer that the polarization that exists in this country is not representative of mainstream America.”
Beck’s excitement was most influenced by the results of local races, like the reelections of U.S. Senator John Thune and U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem.
President of the Augustana Democrats Spencer O’Hara was similarly pleased with the recent victories of South Dakota Democrats like Karen Soli, Jamie Smith and Dan Ahlers.
“The Augustana Democrats is grateful for every member of the Augustana community that participated on behalf of our candidates this election cycle,” O’Hara said in a statement. “We thank all of the volunteers, activists, and community organizers that worked tirelessly for Democrats.”
O’Hara highlighted one more positive recent result for South Dakota Democrats: the election of Augustana economics professor Reynold Nesiba.
Beginning in January, Nesiba will represent District 15 as a state senator in Pierre. He will maintain his professor status at Augustana but will reduce his course load, according to his campaign website.
Nesiba will remain in South Dakota, but Trump will move from New York to Washington D.C. That, the country knows for sure. To Johnson, that may be the only certainty of Trump’s presidency.
“In an ordinary year, we could make reasonable predictions about what kind of power a presidential-elect might have,” Johnson said. “But we have to be very careful with any bold predictions when it comes to Donald Trump.”
O’Hara said Democrats will do their best to make the exchange of power a smooth one.
“[Democrats believe] in Hillary Clinton’s declaration that we are stronger when we are together, regardless of who we are, who we worship, and who we love,” he said.
The Democrats must get used to not having control of Congress or the presidency. That is, of course, a major change, and Wanless said a desire for change is at the heart of this election—just like in Barack Obama’s 2008 victory.
She said people must remain active in the process of government to ensure that leaders actually follow through with their promises.
“Government in D.C. hasn’t changed because people vote and then fail to follow through with expressing their preferences for the direction government should take,” she said. “It is what it is at this point, so how do we make it work … and make it better?”
The electoral majority decided that Trump is the president to make that change happen. His opposition hopes his version of change doesn’t materialize.
Time will tell.