After Surprise Win, President-Elect Trump Calls for Unity

09 November, 2016

President-elect Donald Trump Wednesday called on Americans "to come together as one united people." But he faces a divided nation as he prepares to take the presidency from Barack Obama on January 20, 2017.

Trump spoke to his supporters in New York City after Clinton, a Democrat, called him to congratulate him on his victory.

In his speech, Trump praised Clinton. Although he had called her "crooked Hillary" during much of the campaign, Trump told his supporters that Clinton should be thanked for working "very hard over a long period of time" for the United States.

Hillary Clinton talks after losing presidential election to Donald Trump.
Hillary Clinton talks after losing presidential election to Donald Trump.

Hillary Clinton is ahead now in the popular vote – in other words, more voters overall chose her. But Trump earned the electoral votes in enough states to win the presidency.

He did so, in part, by getting the votes of workers in industrial states such as Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Trump promised to bring back factory jobs there by renegotiating trade deals and limiting immigration.

Van Jones explains the reactions of some people who opposed the new president-elect. Jones is a former adviser to outgoing President Barack Obama.

"You have people putting children to bed tonight, and they're afraid of breakfast," he said on CNN television early Wednesday morning.

"They're afraid of 'How do I explain this to my children?' I have Muslim friends who are texting me tonight, 'Should I leave the country?' I have families of immigrants that are terrified tonight."

During his campaign, Trump called for a ban on Muslim immigration. But in recent months, Trump, who has no government experience, said he would order better background checks for people from nations with terrorism problems.

He also promised to stop illegal immigration. Trump said many Mexican immigrants are bringing crime and drugs to the United States.

Reaction on Twitter and Facebook

Reactions on Twitter and Facebook showed the different ways Americans reacted to Trump's victory.

MJR wrote: "That's it. President-Elect Trump. Godspeed to you. May you find the words to heal a divided nation and may God Bless the United States."

But Cindy wrote: "My heart breaks for this divided nation and the future of our democracy."

Some were disappointed the United States did not elect its first woman president.

Wrote Zoe on Facebook: "To those who will tell me this isn't personal, you could not be more wrong. As I watched the election results come in last night, I felt viscerally sick."

Kellyanne Conway, Trump's campaign manager, urged Americans to give him a chance. "Give him a chance as your president-elect like we all did with President Obama and we all did with President Bill Clinton," she said.

How divided were Americans in the 2016 presidential election?

Last month, The Washington Post spoke to voters in the state of Virginia. It found more than half the people supporting Clinton said they did not have close friends or family voting for Trump. It also found that more than half the people voting for Trump did not have close friends or family voting for Clinton.

Lilliana Mason teaches political science at the University of Maryland.

She said many Americans not only do not know people who voted for a different candidate, but get news about the campaign that matches their opinions.

It might explain why Trump supporters expected his victory, while Clinton supporters were surprised. Most pre-election polls and experts predicted a Clinton victory.

Despite the divisions between Trump and Clinton supporters, 2016 was not the most divisive presidential election, said Paula Baker. She is a presidential historian at the Ohio State University.

"I just finished teaching a course on presidential elections. Throughout we wondered whether this was the worst ever. And clearly no. Consider 1800 for divisiveness."

In 1800, Thomas Jefferson defeated John Adams after saying his opponent and his party would bring a government of "witches" opposed to freedom.

Obama/Trump to Meet

Obama announced that he will meet with Trump at the White House on Thursday to discuss the transition of power.

It may be an uneasy meeting. Trump argued for several years that Obama was not a legal citizen of the United States and therefore was not eligible for the presidency.

During the campaign, Obama said Trump is not qualified to be president. He also campaigned hard for Hillary Clinton, who was his secretary of state during his first term.

Trump is expected to move quickly to repeal Obama's successes, including a law providing health care coverage for Americans, environmental and labor rules, and an international climate change agreement.

However, even Trump may face problems trying to advance his agenda in Congress. Billy Tauzin is a former congressman from Louisiana. He said, "As Americans, we hate gridlock, but we don't want compromise."

Yet Trump will have an advantage. His party, the Republicans, not only took the White House, but held on to their majorities in the House and Senate in Tuesday's election.

I'm Bruce Alpert.

Bruce Alpert reported on this story for VOA Learning English. Kelly Jean Kelly was the editor.

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Words in This Story

breakfast - n. the first meal of the day

texting - v. sending a message on a portable telephone

pledge - v. to promise

viscerally - adv. coming from strong emotions

course - n. a subject taught at a school

witch - n. a woman who is thought to have magic powers

gridlock - n. a situation in which no progress can be made

advantage - n. something that gives someone a better chance of succeeding

transition - n. a change from one government to another