Victor Davis Hanson // Spectator USA
My reasons for thinking Trump was going to be elected in 2016 were entirely unscientific. One of my Hoover Institution colleagues recently reminded me of my data-free, amateurish and bothersome predictions. I teach for three weeks at Hillsdale College every September during my vacation from the Hoover Institution. Each morning I try to ride a bike 15-18 miles out into the Michigan countryside. I have been doing that since 2004. Over the previous 12 years even this conservative rural Michigan county had showed no real excitement over George W. Bush, John McCain or Mitt Romney. But in 2016, Trump signs — both professionally made and hand-painted — had sprouted everywhere, on barns, lawns and sheds. Whatever Trumpism was, lots of southern Michiganders seemed ready for it. Six weeks ago, I rode the identical rural Michigan routes. Sometimes I stopped and talked to a few people. The script was almost predictable. After the requisite throat-clearing — ‘Trump should cut back on the tweeting,’ they said — they were even more eager to vote for him this time than last.
In my hometown near my central California farm, I spent autumn 2016 talking to mostly Mexican American friends with whom I went to grammar or high school. I had presumed then that they must hate Trump. Remember the speech in 2015 announcing he was going to stand, when he bashed illegal immigration, or his snide quip about the ‘Mexican judge’ in the Trump University lawsuit, or his expulsion of an interrupting Univision anchor, Jorge Ramos, from one of his campaign press conferences? But I heard no such thing. Most said they ‘liked’ Trump’s style, whether or not they were voting for him. They were tired of gangs in their neighborhoods and of swamped government services — especially the nearby Department of Motor Vehicles — becoming almost dysfunctional. I remember thinking that Trump of all people might get a third of the Latino vote: of no importance in blue California, but maybe transformative in Midwest swing states?