OK, I'll admit it. I was wrong.
Make that very wrong.
I'm so glad that I'm not a gambler. If I was, I'm pretty sure I would've lost all the money in my wallet along with the coat on my back (and everything else I own) after the final results came in during last week's election.
As I watched the initial poll numbers start to trickle in early that evening, I pretty much resigned myself to the idea that Hillary Clinton was going to take an early lead and hold onto that momentum as progressive states like California, Oregon and Washington reported their results.
What I didn't count on was seeing the tide rapidly turn against Clinton as the numbers continued to come in. In a matter of minutes, I saw Donald Trump not only win Florida but Ohio and Pennsylvania as well. At that point, I knew it was going to be a close race but wasn't sure how close.
When I woke up last Wednesday and turned on the television, I never expected to see Trump's name listed as the president elect.
If I didn't know any better, I would swear I has just entered an episode of the Twilight Zone. However, Rod Serling was nowhere to be found (I checked).
I imagine years from now that future historians will look back on this election and try to determine how a businessman with absolutely no political experience managed to walk into an election and defeat the political darling of the Democratic party. I imagine they will wonder how someone that was so brash and abrasive could rally so many people to his side, especially with the "ready, fire, aim" attitude that I swore would lead to his downfall.
Perhaps history may look back and determine that this election had nothing to do with the issues. Maybe it dealt with something significantly larger.
From my vantage point on the sidelines, it appears that the presidential candidates didn't count on one critical variable -- the millions of American voters who are sick and tired of the status quo in Washington. They've grown weary of the political gridlock and lack of accountability that's turned American politics into a joke and a bad one at that.
Let's be absolutely clear on one point: Trump didn't win by a landslide as some might want to claim. In many of the battleground states, the margin of victory was measured in very small percentages. In Pennsylvania, for example, he won by less than a percent.
What this means is that Americans are begrudgingly giving Trump a chance to lead, but his political future (and perhaps the fate of the Republican party) depends on what he's able to accomplish in the next four years. He has a job to do, and it's a temporary job, too.
If things remain the same and the lives of his supporters don't improve, I seriously doubt that he would stand a chance when he's up for reelection.
Here's one thing the president-elect has on his side: In addition to the White House, the Republican party has managed to maintain control of the House and Senate. Together, they will also help select the next justice to the U.S. Supreme Court.
This gives them an unprecedented opportunity to put into motion a number of plans that can resurrect the nation's economy, put more people back to work, strengthen our nation's defense and reinforce America's international presence. This is something Republicans can't afford to squander by wasting it on a bunch of politically motivated drivel.
In the next four years, I'd like to see something that hasn't come out of Washington for at least the past decade -- a sense of optimism and the promise of a better tomorrow.
I want America's economy back to the way it was 40 or 50 years ago -- a time when only one member of a household had to work. It was a time when families were able to put a roof over the head, had at least one car in the garage with enough food on the table.
It was a time when we were genuinely happy. We were grateful with what we had, and we were content.
I want to see the same America that took less than 10 years to put man on the Moon -- a nation that looked to the heavens with a sense of awe and natural curiosity. I want this nation to not only look to the Moon but to Mars and then to the stars to help humanity unlock the secrets of our universe.
I want to see an end to America's decaying cities and to rebuild those that have fallen into disarray. Instead of empty factories, I want to see them filled with American workers that are fashioning tomorrow's automobiles and creating the advances in technology that will rival our overseas partners.
I want to see the phrase "made in America" stand for unparalleled quality and craftsmanship.
And while I have my "presidential wish list" in front of me, here are some other goals I'm hoping we, as Americans, can work together to achieve. Among them is a sense of national pride -- the same pride I remember from the 1980s when it felt good to be an American.
Having that pride could lead to other positive changes such as having more Americans taking responsibility for their actions and a desire to do what's best for their family and neighbors. I want to see an end to the narcissist, self-centered, all-about-me generation that this nation has allowed to flourish.
This might be the starting point to combat all the social issues afflicting this country. Key among them is the growing problem of drug abuse that has destroyed entire communities.
When it comes to integrity, I would like to emphasize that it can't end in our neighborhoods. I want to see greater accountability among our elected officials.
When someone in an elected office misses the target or screws things up, I want them to accept responsibility. I want to see an end to having them pointing the blame to someone else.
Trump has at least four years to make all of these goals happen. Sound impossible? Considering that he won the White House, it appears anything is possible. After all, we are living in Twilight Zone, right?
-- Brian S. Orban