As America careened toward the 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton’s supporters could not stop crowing about the “historic” nature of her impending presidency. Like Barack Obama before her, Clinton’s ascendance to the White House would mark an important “first”—she would be the nation’s only female president.
Unspoken at the time was that if Clinton’s opponent were somehow elected, he would represent an even more unprecedented break from historical practice. Sure, Donald Trump was an old white guy—but never before had the nation given its most cherished position of public trust to someone so erratic and ill-equipped to handle it.
We have seen women run major democracies before. But we had never seen a game show host whose claim to fame was fake-firing singer Meat Loaf ascend to the world’s most powerful position.
Thus, with Trump’s tradition-breaking election, it follows that other practices deeply ingrained in American democracy would also fall. As his first term comes to a close, Trump has transformed U.S. politics in ways we never could have imagined—and even if he loses in November, these changes aren’t likely to ever revert back to the old days.