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The nation’s choice

Confounding expectations once again, Donald Trump on Tuesday won election as the nation’s 45th president. The New York real estate mogul, whose candidacy seemed doomed on too many occasions to count, achieved an improbable victory that stunned pollsters, pundits and millions of Americans.

As a candidate, Mr. Trump repeatedly spoke and behaved in a manner never exhibited before by a major-party U.S. presidential nominee. Women, immigrants, Muslims and journalists—among others—were targets of his insults and threats. He vowed to rip up trade agreements and walk away from NATO. He often displayed an almost willful ignorance of important issues.

He was a candidate who, as the Wall Street Journal put it, “lacks any political experience and whose convictions on public policy are especially elusive.”

In some exit polls Tuesday, Mr. Trump was viewed unfavorably—and indeed, deemed unqualified to be president—by a majority of voters.

And yet he soon will occupy the White House.

In his victory speech, the president-elect was magnanimous toward defeated Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. There was no “lock her up” talk; instead, he said she has “worked very long and very hard over a long period of time, and we owe her a major debt of gratitude for her service to our country. I mean that very sincerely.”

Mr. Trump also said it was time “to bind the wounds of division. … I pledge to every citizen of our land that I will be president for all Americans.”

For her part, the former secretary of state said in her concession speech Wednesday that “we owe (the president-elect) an open mind and the chance to lead.”

The question now is what Mr. Trump will do with that chance. Will he revert to candidate Trump? Or will he seize the opportunity to confound the nation once again, by demonstrating civility, generosity and a commitment to being the leader of the entire country?

He alone will decide which path he chooses. But for each of us, there’s a similar choice. What kind of citizens do we want to be?

11/11/2016 (c) 2016 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email rbj@rbj.net.

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