GRAND RAPIDS, Michigan — The conventional wisdom is that the 2016 election has seen politics hit new lows. And in some ways — the rhetoric of the candidates, the partisan behavior of the media — it has.
But it has also seen the beginning of a democratic renewal — thanks to Donald Trump. And that remains true whether you are voting against him, or voting for him simply to reject Hillary Clinton.
Trump did more than break the stranglehold of the Republican establishment. Were that all he had accomplished, it would have been admirable enough. But he did something more: he reached out to Americans who had been forgotten by the political process and gave them a reason to care.
Think about the fact that Trump chose to hold the final rally of his campaign in Michigan. Not just as a stunt, either: the most recent poll, which came out just hours before Trump boarded his plane for Grand Rapids, shows Trump ahead by 2 points in the state.
Democrats spent the day campaigning here. They know the danger is real.
Trump is taking the biggest gamble of recent political memory, and reaching out to the very core of the traditional Democratic base in the hope of flipping a blue state. For the first time since Ronald Reagan, a Republican is courting the vote of the American worker.
Trump is not just attempting a win, but a realignment — and perhaps one long overdue.
The result, once the dust settles, is likely to be a more active, lively, and engaged political process — one where the views and concerns of working, law-abiding Americans are no longer shunted aside.
Bernie Sanders could not achieve that because he wanted to fight for them, but not to win for them. Trump wants both.
Well before the votes are counted, it is safe to proclaim: today is a new day in American politics.
There is something intrinsically great about this nation’s ability to save itself, and Trump has helped it begin that process. And just in time, too — for the challenges that lie ahead are as big as any we have yet overcome.
In 24 hours, we will know if he will be the one to lead us through.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. His new book, See No Evil: 19 Hard Truths the Left Can’t Handle, is available from Regnery through Amazon. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.