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Our Opinion: Trump has rare opportunity

Donald Trump may well be one of the most unlikely candidates ever to reach the Oval Office. Since the night of the election, which by all accounts surprised nearly everyone, the real issue going forward is which Donald Trump will show up in the t...

Donald Trump may well be one of the most unlikely candidates ever to reach the Oval Office.

Since the night of the election, which by all accounts surprised nearly everyone, the real issue going forward is which Donald Trump will show up in the transition from unprecedented candidate to sitting president.

Will he be the one who is on message, measured in his comments and speaking to all Americans? Or will he be the candidate, and sometimes now the president-elect, who bristles at perceived slights and shoots from the hip or from the late-night Twitter post?

Even now with the election more than two weeks old, votes are still being counted. When it's all said and done two million more Americans may have cast their votes for Hillary Clinton than Trump. USA Today reports Clinton currently has a 1.7 million vote lead, which is expected to increase as votes are still being counted in California.

"Three thousand votes are all that separate Clinton and Trump in New Hampshire," USA Today reported this week. "The margin is about 12,000 in Michigan, 27,000 in Wisconsin, 68,000 in Pennsylvania and 113,000 in Florida-close, but nothing compared to the 537 votes that separated George W. Bush and Al Gore in Florida 16 years ago."

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The Washington Post noted roughly 43 percent of eligible voters, or 100 million people who could have voted, decided to sit this election out-meaning the U.S. voter turnout is among the lowest in the developed world. That's a sad commentary on our democracy.

Perhaps other states can learn from Minnesota's example. Minnesota led the nation in voter turnout Nov. 8, said Secretary of State Steve Simon. Simon said Minnesota once again returned to a civic participation pinnacle it was accustomed to in the four decades since instituting Election Day registration.

In Crow Wing County, a record number of voters turned out Nov. 8 with 36,143 people casting ballots-about 75 percent of eligible voters. That number eclipsed the 35,299 who voted in 2008. And 4,146 people registered at the polls on Election Day in the county, compared to 5,194 who did so in 2012 and 5,800 in 2008 and 6,428 in 2004.

Voter turnout in the region and the state was a bright spot in a tumultuous election season. In this election, both major parties presented flawed candidates for the voters. With a nation so clearly divided by that choice, nearly half the population would have been unhappy no matter which result came to pass. It even has some families wondering about potential turns in the Thanksgiving dinner conversation should politics join the family feast.

And that should be a guiding light for the president-elect as he considers the nation and the popular vote. The fact that more people voted against him than for him should be something both Trump and his administration think carefully about if he is going to truly succeed at being president of the entire nation. Those sentiments were ones he rightly expressed the night of the election and has repeated since, though they are sometimes at odds with his late-night tweets.

The challenge for the president-elect as he puts his cabinet together and looks to his first 100 days in office is to bring a divided nation together and represent all Americans, whether they supported him or not.

We hope he picks sensible people who offer good advice with the well-being of the nation and the world in mind. A lot is at stake. Trump has a greater opportunity than he could have ever expected with a Republican majority in Congress. We hope he is thinking of that as he picks his leadership team and considers the agenda going forward. There is no doubt Americans will be watching carefully to see which Trump shows up.

Related Topics: ELECTION 2016
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