Shock Trump victory heralds period of global uncertainty
After the shock Brexit vote, the unthinkable has happened again.
Donald Trump, the property mogul and reality TV star with no experience of elected office, has confounded the pollsters, the media and received political wisdom and captured the presidency of the United States.
It is a stunning victory which heralds a period of uncertainty and apprehension.
This is a man who ran a vicious, disturbing and deeply offensive campaign, who threatened to jail his opponent, deport millions of immigrants, stop Muslims entering the US and build a wall along the border with Mexico.
In normal circumstances, any other presidential candidate who spouted such extreme views would not have progressed very far in the race for the White House.
Certainly, it is difficult to imagine any other candidate coming back from a tape which exposed appalling sexual attitudes towards women or who saw tax avoidance as being `smart', or who was castigated by senior figures in his own party.
So why did Trump triumph over the vastly experienced Hillary Clinton?
A key reason appears to be that the former First Lady, senator and secretary of state was seen as being an integral part of the loathed establishment, the liberal elite who had failed to understand the plight of the marginalised and disaffected, those who had fallen behind economically and felt no one spoke for them.
Amazingly, the billionaire with the life of unimaginable privilege and luxury connected with those voters.
Mr Trump was also a good communicator. His message may have been crude, unsophisticated and often irrational but it worked.
Mrs Clinton would not claim to be a great campaigner. She suffered by comparison with her husband and President Obama, both formidable and charismatic orators.
Even so, she should have been clear favourite to beat the untested outsider with a tenuous grasp of detail who was seen by many both inside and outside the US as a dangerous maverick.
It is inevitable there will be considerable soul-searching in the Democratic Party. Mrs Clinton won the popular vote but not the presidency and perhaps the lesson of the early surge by the ageing socialist Bernie Sanders should have been given more attention.
Both the Trump victory and the Brexit vote are signs of a sea change in the political world, with accepted considerations and perceptions ripped apart as people who are disenchanted with the status quo vote for the candidate or cause that represents change, regardless of the consequences.
Ireland, north and south, will be waiting to see what a Trump presidency will mean in terms of trade and investment, Given his protectionist views there will be little sense of optimism.
We are living in unusual times and can only hope that a Trump White House is much kinder, more positive and inclusive than the tide of vitriol and division that carried him there.