“I pledge to every citizen of our lands that I will be the president for the American people. For those who have chosen not to support me in the past . . . I’m reaching out to you for your guidance and your help so we can work together and unify our great country.”
As the clock moved from 8:00 to 9 to 10:00 p.m. and then all the way past midnight to 1:00 in the morning, I could see the dream that I and millions of other Americans shared of a Hillary Clinton Presidency—the first woman President—come crumbling and then eventually crashing down. I wanted this woman—whom I know in my heart—to be a kind, caring, and compassionate person—I wanted this extraordinarily talented brilliant woman to be our President and to usher in a time of greater understanding and greater tolerance for all. Let me not understate the degree to which I believed in Hillary Clinton and in her commitment to the American people—especially to those who have not been able to share in the American dream. I—like so many of you—am devastated by the Clinton loss and the Trump win.
Having said all that, however, I am determined to make my grieving process just as short as possible. I was despondent for a full 6 hours as I stayed glued to my TV screen, surfing the news channels—looking in vain for the glimmers of hope to miraculously transform themselves into a narrow Clinton victory. Such was not to be the case, however. Miracles were in very short supply, and those miracles that were in the air, were captured and enjoyed by the Donald Trump supporters. By 1:30 a.m., I had seen and heard all that I needed to realize that Donald Trump was to be our 45th President of the United States.
As I awakened this morning just before 7:00 a.m., the news from Charlie and Nora and Gayle—along with that of Chris Cuomo—confirmed my worst fears and the certainty of Donald Trump’s election. Yet, having said all that, I refuse to dwell on recriminations. I refuse to linger on the what-if’s. I refuse to excoriate Mr. Trump and his legion of supporters. I know and you all know too many people—colleagues, facebook friends, relatives—who love our country and are intelligent, caring people—who voted for Mr. Trump. Some did so unabashedly or with pride, and others did so despite some serious reservations.
For me, even now, it is time to begin to pick myself up and begin to move on. For me it is time to pull together whatever fibers that I have of a resilient personality and move on. For me, it is time to do what I had urged the Republicans to do 8 years ago when Barack Obama was elected. That is, to realize that our nation—as a whole—has spoken. We have elected a President that for the next four years will serve as the President of ALL of the people. As much as it may pain us, we need to do what we urged the Republicans to do 8 years ago: give him a chance. Look for common ground in ways to improve our country and the lives of its people—including especially those who have undergone intolerance, prejudice, and economic and social despair.
I began this essay with Donald Trump’s pledge, last night, to all Americans. I repeat that here because it is the focus of this piece:
“I pledge to every citizen of our lands that I will be the president for the American people. For those who have chosen not to support me in the past . . . I’m reaching out to you for your guidance and your help so we can work together and unify our great country.
I am taking Mr. Trump at his word—that he actually wants our guidance and help. I choose to believe that because I do believe in the innate goodness of human beings—even those who have made the jarring, hateful remarks that have characterized the campaign of Donald Trump. I do believe—or I choose to believe that each of us–including Donald Trump—has the capacity to listen to the “better angels of our nature” and to act on those noble instincts. I also believe in both the ego and the determination of Mr. Trump. Sure, those characteristics have deservedly raised more than a few red flags, but they also offer some hope. I am convinced that Donald Trump wants—even now—to take his place in history as one of the greatest U.S. Presidents of all. He wants to be remembered as the President who cared about all the people, who rebuilt our infrastructure, who supported our veterans. Last night he said, the following:
“Every single American will have the ability to realize their fullest potential. The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer. We are going to fix our inner cities and rebuild our highways, schools, hospitals. We will rebuild our infrastructure. Which will become second to none, and we will put millions of our people to work as we rebuild it.
We will also finally take care of our great veterans who have been so loyal and I’ve gotten to know so many over this 18-month journey. The time that I have taken with them I consider among my greatest honors. We will embark upon a project of American growth and renewal. We will call upon the best and the brightest to leverage our tremendous talent to benefit all.
If he means what he says, and in this instance, I am hopeful that he does, then his ego, his determination, his perseverance, and his tenacity may lead him to become a far better President than we could have imagined. In any case, for now, I am—for a time—willing to suspend my disbelief, take him at his word, and offer him a few words of “guidance”—just as he requested.
- Look forward, not back. Forget the cries of “Lock her up” and realize that months or years of charges and investigations into Hillary Clinton and the Clinton foundation serve no one, anger the nearly 50 percent of Americans who supported Secretary Clinton, and distract you, the government, and the American people from the real challenges that we face in our country.
- Surround yourself with really good people. Make your litmus test be that they must be not only people who have strong convictions, but they must be people of strong character—people with good hearts. Seek out people who have great intelligence, but also great wisdom and a healthy measure of common sense. And make sure that there are a reasonable number of individuals whom you respect, but may have differing views than your own on our nation’s challenges. They must be people who will not be afraid to clearly express those conflicting views—people to whom you will actively listen.
- Do not scrap the Affordable Care Act—Obamacare—in its entirety. Get rid of those parts that are not working, if you must, but keep the parts that are important to the American people. Keep the parts about pre-existing conditions, the parts about limits, about keeping young people on their parent’s insurance until 26, the parts about free preventative services, and limits on health insurance payout. Keep all the good parts that really are benefitting our people.
- Search the Senate and the House of Representative for five Republicans and five Democrats that are highly respected and valued by the entire legislature and the American people. They must be people who are valued for their character, their creativity, their intelligence, and their ability and proclivity to compromise—to compromise with others to come up with real workable solutions to Sit these people down in a room and let them tackle the great problems of our day—and agree to abide by their eventual conclusions. One month they would confront immigration, for example, and work to come up with the best possible plan. The next month, they might tackle health care. The month after that—infrastructure needs.
- Realize that you—as President of the United States—are a role model for every child and every adult in our country. Please act like it. You may have set some less than stellar examples in the past (surely an understatement, at best), but the past does not need to be prologue. Your past comments and actions need not determine your future behavior. You can begin weighing your words more carefully, noting that words DO, in fact, matter. You can stop the insults. As I and others have always insisted, before you say anything, ask yourself two questions: Is it true? and Is it kind? And if the answer is “No,” then simply don’t say it.
- Be very cautious of trusting Vladamir Putin or any of a number of other leaders of countries with whom we have adversarial relationships. Take the full measure of a person by looking at their past behavior and deeds, meeting and talking with them, and also listening to what I hope and trust will be a diverse cadre of experienced, knowledgeable, trusted advisors of high character.
- Make every possible effort to understand the needs, the problems, and the gifts of various groups in our society—women, people of color, immigrants, people of all religions, all nationalities, elder Americans. Reach out to them; sit down with them; listen—really listen–and then work to better the lives of all of those people. Work to end sexism, racism, prejudice in our society. Help all to live better lives. And don’t forget our youngest Americans—infants and toddlers. Provide for their needs, as well, including universal preschool and quality daycare for parents who need it. As a father, you are aware of the needs of children of every age—including teenagers and young adults. Do all you can to strengthen schools, encourage and support good teachers, promote an atmosphere of learning, and provide the best possible education for every single child.
- Develop and implement a plan to successfully deal with an opiate crisis which is a scourge on our country and all its families. We all know someone whose lives have been tragically impacted by opioid abuse. Surely we can put steps in place to curb opioid use, and to help those whose lives have been diminished or destroyed by the use of these drugs.
- Support those who risk their lives for our country—our military, or police, our firefighters. Help our veterans as they return from service.
11. Protect the environment. Visit our National and State Parks and other natural areas to see their glory: Bryce Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, Antelope Canyon, Acadia, Denali, Rocky Mt. National Park, The Grand Canyon, the Smoky Mountains, Yosemite, the Everglades, the Badlands, the Painted Desert, and so many more. Realize that we would never have these areas today for our families had not Teddy Roosevelt and other Presidents protected them for our children. They will not be there tomorrow–nor the Elk, the Grizzlies, the Wolves–unless you and Congress protect them! And Climate Change? It’s real and its a threat to our future unless you and other world leaders work together to make changes which will improve the situation.
12. Be the kind of leader that we need–the kind who truly brings us together–because, as you know, we are so divided right now! Appear frequently on television to sit down with us and really TALK to us. Tell us what you’re thinking–and why. Be honest with us. Encourage us when we need encouragement. Console us when we need consolation. Keep making every possible effort to bring us together, even when it gets tough. Do the kinds of things that will reassure ALL of us that you are listening, and that you HEAR us. When Americans ask you to seriously consider common sense gun control legislation, at least listen with an open mind. When you hear the other side talk about the importance of the Iran Nuclear treaty, at least listen to their points of view before deciding. When people protest, invite a few of them in to hear their real concerns.
If you can do that, Mr. Trump, you WILL, in fact, go down in history as one of our greatest Presidents—a President who brought people together, who worked to really improve the lives of ALL of our citizens.
With all my heart, Mr. President-elect, I wish you the best. I wish you courage, compassion, strength, and wisdom. Your success will be our success. Godspeed, and God bless.