BOSTON (CBS) –  What happened?

For starters, politics happened.

READ MORE: 'DCR Wants To Turn This Into A Lawn': Group Fights Plan To Relocate Herter Community Garden

Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton tried to make this election a referendum on each other – in Trump’s case, also a referendum on the Obama years (a reprise of a strategy that has worked well for Republicans in the last two off-year elections).

The front page of Wednesday's Boston Globe. (Photo by Anna Meiler-WBZ-TV)

The front page of Wednesday’s Boston Globe. (Photo by Anna Meiler-WBZ-TV)

And while Trump secured sky-high disapproval ratings through a series of abrasive remarks and negative stories, Clinton’s negatives were right up there with his.

Nearly 40-percent of voters told exit pollsters they wanted change more than anything, and for better or worse, Trump certainly was different.

By contrast, Clinton embraced the Democratic status quo and surrounded herself at the end with aging baby-boomer icons. (Bon Jovi? Really?) Add all that to her chronic baggage as a blast from the (for many voters) distant past, and it’s no wonder she couldn’t hold the Obama coalition, no matter how tightly she embraced its figurehead.

And while we’re on the subject of tired, ready-for-disposal political tropes, perhaps Democrats should ponder how their 40+ year obsession with identity politics has just been turned against them.

Promoting civil rights and equality are admirable goals, but the game of exploiting identity-based grievances can be played by two. After all the Trump gaffes and insults, he attracted more Latino and black votes than Mitt Romney did, and the gender gap wasn’t enough to make the math work, even for the first female major-party nominee.

Meanwhile, angry/anxious/beleaguered white voters flocked to the polls. There has to be a better way to make the great melting pot work than by separating out its elements.

READ MORE: Supply Chain Issues: 'There Really Are Problems Everywhere,' Even For Small Companies

So what happens now?

Obviously, it’s gut-check time for the President-elect.

Perhaps he could have a nice chat with the outgoing incumbent – or even Bill Clinton, perhaps over a round of cheating at golf – about how much harder it is to govern than to campaign.

One key difference Trump will need to adjust to – while you can catch more flies with vinegar than honey during a campaign, that doesn’t work so well once in office.

Donald Trump speaks to supporters at the New York Hilton Midtown in New York on November 9, 2016. (Photo credit TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

Donald Trump speaks to supporters at the New York Hilton Midtown in New York on November 9, 2016. (Photo credit TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

People of goodwill will want to at least give the new president a chance. (It remains to be seen whether that group includes Democrats convinced that congressional Republicans never gave Obama that chance, but were immediately in destruction mode.)

He must seize it by putting angry, vengeful Trump on ice and thawing out charming Trump, freezer burn and all.

Trump’s calm, conciliatory remarks early Wednesday morning set the right tone, but his ability to sustain it is suspect.

MORE NEWS: 'I Lost My Son To The Streets': Father Brings Busload Of Donations To Mass And Cass

For all our sakes, let’s hope the man can rise to the occasion.