The American political establishment reeled on Wednesday as leaders in both parties began coming to grips with four years of President Donald J. Trump in the White House, a once-unimaginable scenario that has now plunged the United States and its allies and adversaries into a period of deep uncertainty about the policies and impact of his administration.
Democrats, who will be out of power in both the White House and Congress for the first time since 2006, were particularly crestfallen that Hillary Clinton had a slender lead in the popular vote but lost in the Electoral College, a fate similar to Al Gore’s in 2000.
On campuses nationwide, students marched against Mr. Trump with signs bearing slogans like “Not my president,” and protesters in Oakland, Calif., smashed windows and set fire to garbage bins. On Wednesday night, thousands of people protested in several cities, including Chicago, Philadelphia, Seattle and New York, where demonstrators converged in Midtown Manhattan in front of Trump Tower, the home of the president-elect.
With millions of other voters euphoric at the election of a true political outsider as president, the clear divide over Mr. Trump inspired pleas of unity from his two biggest opponents, President Obama and Mrs. Clinton. At separate news conferences, they urged Americans to come together for the sake of the republic, and for the good of Mr. Trump’s presidency.
Mrs. Clinton, in her first remarks to supporters after the election, said Americans owed Mr. Trump “an open mind and a chance to lead.” Choking back tears at times, she said she was “sorry that we did not win this election for the values we share and the vision we hold for our country.”
“This is painful, and it will be for a long time,” Mrs. Clinton said, standing beside her husband, former President Bill Clinton, in a tableau that underscored the end of a nearly 25-year era in which the Clintons dominated American politics.
The clash between excitement and dread was especially palpable over the likelihood that Mr. Trump, at the head of a unified Republican government, would try to reverse Obama administration policies and appoint a conservative Supreme Court justice. The House speaker, Paul D. Ryan, indicated on Wednesday that Republicans would try to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and Democrats privately began strategizing to thwart that agenda. Republicans also expanded their power in state capitals, and Democrats pledged resistance.
Full Credit to The New York Times.