Holy shit, nobody saw that coming. Forget about the blindsided pundits and the humiliated pollsters. You know the president-elect, his advisors, family, and many ardent supporters were also shocked. Let’s face it, you don’t froth at the mouth about a rigged election before the actual election if you expect to win. It is interesting to wonder what thoughts lumbered through Donald Trump’s head last Tuesday night as the results poured in. On a purely instinctive level he must have been elated; he had to be. Seriously, what better way to stroke your ever hungry ego than to hear 60,000,000 people say, “I want YOU to lead us. I want YOU to make my life better. YOU. I want YOU.” To experience that much validation, regardless of your self-perception, must be all kinds of awesome.
It was speculated throughout the primaries that Trump really didn’t want to become president, that he used the national stage and media to boost his brand and feed his need for constant adulation. As his campaign gained momentum and his rallies drew rabid crowds and his outrageous, unrealistic off-the-cuff proclamations generated more and more attention, did his expectations about the end game change? Or was he just playing it out, harvesting as much free publicity and face time as he could, perhaps with an eye on a post-election foray into the world of news entertainment under the hulking guidance of Roger Ailes? Only Trump knows the answer to that, but as Oscar Wilde once said, “The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.” Well, he was talked about. Incessantly. So here we are.
Trump said he doesn’t sleep much, a common enough occurrence for people in their 70’s, and election night was probably no exception. But when he finally managed to nod off was it restful, rejuvenating? Did he wake up still elated, still feeling all kinds of awesome? Or did he lay there in his gilded bedroom high above Manhattan with a looming, dreadful sensation, a kind of nervous cesspool relentlessly churning churning churning, and think, “What the hell have I done to my life?” Maybe it came later on Wednesday as a tsunami of activity with a decidedly different tenor engulfed him. Whenever it was, the moment he realized with utter clarity his life was no longer his own had to hit hard, like being sent to a glass wall prison with a singular diet of bitter, endless scrutiny. Donald Trump’s life now belongs to the American people, at least while he is president. For anyone, that is a lot to come to grips with. It must royally suck, especially when the gravity of the office finally starts to seep into your stubborn hide. Even if you are a text book narcissist.
For all the speculation, none of us knows what a Trump presidency will actually bring, including Trump. However, this much is true: He has realized a megalomaniac’s wet dream. The keg of free publicity is now permanently tapped. But the day will arrive, a day as inevitable as gravity, when he infuriates large segments of his voter base with a broken promise or untenable political compromise. The spotlight, already blinding from his detractors, will turn harsh and unforgiving. And Donald Trump will wonder why the hell he didn’t see *that* coming.