Rarely does this column touch on national issues. But so many, particularly here in Arlington, seem to be in shock at how and why Donald Trump was elected president. You probably have heard it from your friends and neighbors. You saw it all over social media. You may have even heard that your kids were asked how they felt about the election results at school.
It is easy to understand why the results might be confusing to some. If you still watch TV, your airwaves were bombarded with negative ads against Trump. The Washington Post ran one or two anti-Trump editorials every day. Most of your friends on Facebook agreed with you which means your News Feed was probably nearly unanimous in opposition to Trump.
So on election day, it was no surprise to you that 76% of Arlingtonians chose Hillary Clinton while just 17% picked Trump.
However, just a few hours down the road, in the 9th District of Virginia, Donald Trump received 68% of the vote to Clinton’s 27%.
Why such a huge swing between the two candidates? And why were the people in the 9th District, and around America, voting this way?
I suspect that if you could set aside any preconceived notions and had an open and honest conversation over a cup of coffee with a working family or two in Bristol, Virginia, it might open your eyes. I am willing to bet you will hear that people who live outside the beltway view politicians of both parties with great skepticism. You might hear they are unhappy that the people in Washington get richer, while they struggle to make ends meet. What you might even find is Washington is practically a four letter word to many people.
There is no point in rehashing all the charges levelled by both sides. These were not perfect candidates. But if you cut through all the ads, accusations and character flaws, you can find the choice this election offered.
Clinton ran a campaign based on Washington experience and claimed Washington solutions would make our nation stronger. Trump reminded people that Washington experience and Washington solutions are what brought us to where we are as a country today, and that he could use his real world experience to negotiate them a better deal.
When weighing these two options, the people of Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania, Iowa, Michigan (likely) and Wisconsin, who had voted for President Obama twice, decided it was time for a change. They opted to give Trump a chance.
No one can predict with any certainty what the next four years will look like. But living in Arlington, we will have a front row seat.
Mark Kelly is the chairman of the 8th District Republican Committee, a former Arlington GOP Chairman and two-time Republican candidate for Arlington County Board.
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