The day Donald Trump announced his bid for the White House, I was in Washington D.C. doing an investigation on the biggest story of the day — Rachel Dolezal. After hearing his speech, I told friends, co-workers, and family that he was going to be the next president of the United States. And despite over a year of being mocked, laughed at, and attacked, I was right.
I saw something in Trump that I had never seen in a politician before; there were no trained speeches, no inflections to Ronald Reagan, or some conservative policy platform that I’ve heard talked about for decades. It was exciting, spontaneous, populist, and positive. “Make America Great Again” was a reason to vote.
From the start, Trump had wedged himself in a particular place among Republicans, unlike every other candidate, supporters of the billionaire didn’t have a clear second choice. Every other candidate embraced his positions on immigration, jobs, trade, and foreign policy. If you like Rand Paul, you could settle for Ted Cruz; if you liked Jeb Bush, you could settle for John Kasich or Marco Rubio, but if you like Trump, all you had was Trump.
While positions were all over the map at times, Trumpism started creating a set of ideals: economic patriotism, a humble foreign policy, a reduction of legal immigration, and a strong emphasis on law and order.
Even as other Republicans started calling Trump a Clinton plant or a New York liberal, his policy bonafides were more cemented in my head when he added Sen. Jeff Session’s brilliant aide Stephen Miller to his team and earned the support of radio show host Laura Ingraham. He could be like Dave Brat with a Queens accent.
Surviving Trump’s gaffes were difficult, sometimes impossible to defend, but it became evident as he spoke about policy issues that this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. If the billionaire left the race, we’d have Mitt Romney or Paul Ryan.
Every time someone from the establishment GOP called him to drop out, millions of his supporters just like me only doubled down. For better or worse, he was our advocate, and we were ride or die.
Going into the general election, it was very clear that Trump and his voters had something that Hillary Clinton didn’t, a positive message. Coming from my campaign experience, I would say 90 percent of the time people are compelled to vote for something, not against something.
Clinton pandered. She called herself an Abuela, had hot sauce in her bag, and tried to be Bernie Sanders without being well, a socialist.
At times I doubted his ground game, though. I thought the world of Kellyanne Conway and never doubted her abilities it was hard to see how he would beat the Clintons, the Obamas, Bernie, the unions, the media, celebrities, and sometimes the establishment Republicans, but my support for Trump never faded.
I should have never doubted him because unlike the Democrats who were with her; he was with us. This election was about the people, not Trump, and their voices were ultimately heard.