Many of us are welcoming the Christmas season with a renewed sense of hope for the future of our country.

As Daniel Henninger observes in today's must-read Wall Street Journal column hope is the abiding idea of the Christmas season.

And as he further notes, this being the aftermath of the 2016 presidential campaign, the theme once again has been injected into politics. It started when Michelle Obama said in a valedictory interview with Oprah Winfrey, “See, now we are feeling what not having hope feels like, you know."

She was referring to the results of the election and Donald Trump seemed taken aback by this, saying that we have "tremendous hope"  (though for once, he generously let it go quickly, even hinting that Mrs. Obama's remarks didn't come out as she intended).

Michelle Obama and other Democrats disconsolate since the election about the loss of hope in American politics leave the impression they believe that giving people the rhetoric of hope, lifting them with words, is more important than delivering results, which some might call change.

For example, when Mrs. Clinton promised free public-college tuition, Democrats seemed to think this sort of inchoate, grandiose promise would somehow strike voters as “offering hope,” and that this impassioned commitment alone—to hope—should be enough to validate their politics. But it doesn’t, not anymore.

Once past the voting, politics is about public policies, whose real-world effects either sustain or diminish hope. Hope is the helium-filled balloon of politics. Governing in office is the gravity that pulls it back to earth.

Post-Trump, Democrats are engaged in a pedestrian fight over who gets control of their party. More interesting is the evident political challenge to liberalism’s belief in large public bureaucracies as dispensers of hope.

Is the current welfare system still about hope? ObamaCare, as symbol and actuality, may be the apogee of modern liberalism’s politics of hope as mostly messaging.

Donald Trump, promiser of “a beautiful wall,” out-hoped the progressives who thought they owned it. Voters concluded that an ideology-free businessman would turn hope into change better than yet another bearer of liberal orthodoxy.

Among the reasons for Mr. Trump’s win is the corrosive state of the nation’s culture, from the opioid crisis to political correctness. The notion that Donald Trump might help rehabilitate the culture would strike many as laughable.

Maybe so. But Donald Trump seems to have been genuinely moved by the opioid crisis he discovered in New Hampshire and elsewhere. That kind of exposure is another argument for the 50-state Electoral College.

Our electoral system, up and running since 1789, forces candidates to meet people living in a large, regionally complex country. Running for president may attract self-inflated personalities, but there is only one person looking into the faces of and listening to uncounted pleas on the campaign trail—from Iowans, Floridians, Ohioans, Mainers—and that is the candidate.

That system made Donald Trump spend more time than most of us will in some of the most dispirited places in white, black and brown America. I won’t go so far as to say Donald Trump will become Saul on the road to Damascus. But those in despair or grim doubt over the 45th president should not underestimate the effects an American presidential campaign had on his understanding of what hope means now in the United States.

Conservatives tend to take a long view and non-secular conservatives an especially long one.

Still the last years have tested our ability to hope that the country will return to constitutional government and to hope that the people who help make our culture rancid will return to being regarded as entertainers (and distasteful ones at that) instead of oracles.

Right now, we are feeling what it is like having hope, you know.