Trump shocks the nation; now he must unite it
Donald Trump, an unlikely, imperfect Republican candidate, is president of the United States. Across our nation this morning, the blue-collar billionaire’s election is prompting a combination of jubilation, fear and unaccepting disdain. We are – as the popular vote indicates – a very divided country. And half of the country is no doubt still scratching eyeballs and wondering how Trump did it. Here’s how: He tapped into the undercurrent of frustration and anger over the performance most people have gotten from Washington the past eight years. There is clearly dissatisfaction with both parties and there was trepidation that Trump’s opponent, Hillary Clinton, would merely have represented a continuation of the power structure in our nation’s capital that hasn’t solved any problems. Trump found the vein of mainstream American people who feel forgotten by the nation’s elites, from elected politicians to bureaucrats to lobbyists to the major media. He promised to represent them with new job opportunities resulting from better trade agreements. He promised a stronger military and foreign policy posture that protects them against worldwide terror. He promised a reworking of the health care system that is strangling most regular Americans and businesses. He promised tough immigration policy. He promised a renewed respect for our veterans and police. These are the touchstones that join the real America, which is far different from the one that Hollywood, much of the major media and stale politicians have been forcefeeding on the public. Trump, a first-time politician owing no one in his mostly self-financed campaign, was free to take on the power elites. The message hit firmly enough that he was able to overcome the blitz of character degradation that was unleashed on him from all sides. While Trump had plenty of character flaws for foes to pick at, none of them endangered the country in the manner of Clinton’s e-mail violations that placed this country’s secrets in the hands of its enemies. The real America decided, with a push from Trump, that Hillary Clinton’s 30 years of public experience included too many failed actions – neglect and deceit in Benghazi, scary Secretary of State decisions, misguided legislative priorities. Trump now has a clear mission that has to start immediately. He needs to get this divided country united again. The conciliatory tone of his acceptance speech needs to be repeated at every turn in coming months. When George Bush was elected in a divided election in 2000, his first contact post-election was Democratic Senator Ted Kennedy. Trump needs to make a similar across-the-aisle contact. That would be a marked improvement over President-elect Obama’s cocky warning “elections have consequences” and exclusionary behavior following his election in 2008. Trump needs to assure women and minorities that he will work for them. He needs to show Hispanics he wants to protect this country from illegal immigration but is not opposed to legal immigrants seeking a better life in this country. Interestingly, Trump received more votes from African-Americans and Hispanics than Mitt Romney did in 2012, indicating that his direct messaging to them was heard by those willing to form their own impression rather than simply buying the line of the power elites. Trump needs to take the Obamacare overhaul that the GOP House majority has put together and see if it can be turned into legislation that improves health care for all Americans. He needs to make Supreme Court appointments that strictly uphold our Constitution and in part pay tribute to Justice Antonin Scalia, whose untimely death created the current vacancy. Given Trump’s inexperience, the role of Vice President Mike Pence will be very important and it is absolutely vital that he appoint a cabinet loaded with experienced decision makers who will represent this country’s return to the strongest democracy in the world. He can start his personnel decisions with ones that change the priorities and tone of the Justice Department and FBI, which have become far too politicized in the past eight years. These are supposed to be law enforcement bodies, not political arms of the administration and the power elites. All this can be done if the new president and the leaders of both parties in the House and Senate – still Republican majorities – take to heart the call to bipartisan problem-solving they were issued by the real America Tuesday.
Friday: Predictable Pennsylvania? Not in 2016