U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce, a supporter of President-elect Donald Trump, joined others who were surprised at how well Trump did in Tuesday’s election.
“Everybody’s a little bit surprised,” Pearce said. “It just speaks, I think, to the deep-rooted desire to really clean up Washington and really turn it back to a direction we want us to go.”
Pearce, R-N.M, who cruised to re-election on Tuesday, said he believes the news just before the election that health-insurance premiums would rise for some Americans helped Trump win.
“People were shaking their premiums at me and saying, ‘this is what we can’t stand: we can’t afford this in our lives anymore,'” Pearce said.
A dismantling of the Affordable Care Act looks quite possible with Trump set to take office in January and Republicans controlling the U.S. House and Senate.
With such a climate as their new political reality, many leaders are talking about working together following a divisive election. Even Trump called for unity.
“To all Republicans and Democrats and independents across this nation, I say it is time for us to come together as one united people,” he said in his victory speech. “It’s time. I pledge to every citizen of our land that I will be president for all Americans, and this is so important to me.”
That pleased U.S. Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M.
“We have just come through one of the most contentious elections any of us have ever known, and now we must begin the very hard work of bringing Americans back together,” Udall said Wednesday. “Donald Trump is our president-elect, and I appreciate his appeal for unity last night. Now he must demonstrate that he is committed to following through. The world is watching.”
But Udall said he was “deeply disturbed” by Trump’s tone during the campaign, “from his proposal to build a border wall to his offensive characterization of women and Hispanic and Muslim immigrants.”
“I do not accept policies that would treat some people with prejudice and bigotry, and I will fight every step of the way against those that would rip apart families and divide our proudly diverse state and nation,” Udall said. “… We must address the real tensions that people feel, and I believe we can do that by lifting everyone up.”
Even U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who lost to Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary for president, found a silver lining in Trump’s victory.
“Donald Trump tapped into the anger of a declining middle class that is sick and tired of establishment economics, establishment politics and the establishment media,” Sanders said. “People are tired of working longer hours for lower wages, of seeing decent paying jobs go to China and other low-wage countries, of billionaires not paying any federal income taxes and of not being able to afford a college education for their kids — all while the very rich become much richer.”
“To the degree that Mr. Trump is serious about pursuing policies that improve the lives of working families in this country, I and other progressives are prepared to work with him,” Sanders said. “To the degree that he pursues racist, sexist, xenophobic and anti-environment policies, we will vigorously oppose him.”
Pearce, meanwhile, said he’s excited to get to work on policies that will improve the economy.
“Just this idea that we’re going to bring back manufacturing jobs, I think people recognize that’s a way to prosperity,” he said. “I think that people are expressing economic concern.”
During a discussion on Facebook, New Mexicans were grappling with the reality that Trump is about to become president.
“Putting all bias aside, he was very humble and immediately reached across the aisle,” Michael McCalmont of Albuquerque said about Trump’s speech. “… If your candidate didn’t win, don’t let your disappointment keep you from seeing that working together will benefit us all — not just our party.”
“I have said for years that it is the duty of the losers in a democracy to accept the results of elections and be loyal to the Constitution. I am not optimistic, but I will be accepting,” said Daniel Kim of Las Cruces.
Some were frightened about the future.
“Put me in the scared column. With the Supreme Court it’s two lifetimes of “Citizens,” aka corporations, United,” said Carol Miller of Ojo Sarco. “I shed tears in advance for all women, girls who have learned the biggest bully won.”
Susan Fitzgerald of Las Cruces asked questions.
“Will we become more divided? What will be the actions of those who feel empowered by the outcome? What is going to happen to our economy? Will the distance between the haves and the have nots get bigger? Will our stance on climate change get even worse?” she asked. “It will be incumbent on all of us to keep the national issues in focus while not losing our momentum at the local level.”
Marlo Martinez of Española, on the other hand, expressed cynicism and said the results of the presidential race matter little.
“It doesn’t matter who is in office; the rich and powerful always rule,” he said. “We are all just subject to this reality show while innocent people are being exploited, our lands and water are being soiled, and our children and generations to come are being mortgaged off to our deficit.”
Heather Ray-Carrica of Las Cruces took a more ominous tone.
“Cubs win the World Series, Trump wins the presidency, people are now calling for peace. All we need are the four horsemen of the apocalypse and we can call it a day,” she said. “Praying for both candidates and our great nation.”
Manuel Garcia of Las Vegas questioned what will happen to the nation’s health-care system after “Trump destroys the Affordable Care Act.” He also questioned whether the price of gasoline will spike.
“I am a life-long citizen, born and raised in the U.S.,” Garcia said. “Our family has been in New Mexico since the 1800s — but now with an ill-informed Trump, I believe that we could be at risk as well.”
Harry Montoya of Albuquerque said such fears were created not by Trump, but by “media lies.”
“It doesn’t matter if you’re black, brown, yellow or LGBTQ,” he said. “You’re an American citizen with the Constitution of the U.S. to guide us as a nation. Donald Trump, despite all your fears that have been placed in your mind by our media, will be the greatest president we’ve had in a long time.”
Jim Williamson of Santa Fe agreed.
“Put me in the YUGE excited column, ready to have peace and prosperity for our fellow Americans and New Mexicans,” he said. “Our wages our stagnant, our jobs are shipped abroad, we have $20 trillion in debt… The people have had enough and made a change!”
Bernie Digman of Las Cruces had a different take.
“This nation knowingly and with glee and vengeance voted for Donald Trump and all he was selling,” Digman wrote. “He was not selling peace and prayers. He was not selling reconciliation. He was selling hate, bigotry, vengeance against his enemies, racism and sexism.”
“I don’t want to hear from those who enthusiastically embraced those heinous and base ideologies that ‘we’ should come together,” Digman said. “You who voted for this caricature, this unstable and spoiled and privileged groper of women and mocker of decent folks, can step up alone and own it. Don’t ask me to be part of what you have wrought.”
Some expressed uncertainty about who Trump even is — and what kind of president he will be.
“It’s time for the (hopefully) real Donald Trump to stand up and demonstrate that he is not about all the incendiary words he ‘fired for effect’ during the campaign,” said David McCollum of Las Cruces.
Jeff Lewis of Las Cruces called Trump “a used-car salesman.”
“This is a guy who has been a liberal, a conservative, a moderate, a liberal… In other words, he has gauged the wind the past few years and decided to go all in on conservatism,” Lewis said. “He felt that was his golden ticket.”
“I don’t think this man has any answers on jobs or any other significant issue,” Lewis said. “He scares me and I shudder at him being involved in serious international issues.”
Journalist Billy Huntsman contributed to this report.