A heavy lift
The peaceful transition of power in Washington, D.C., is underway, with Donald Trump as gracious in victory as Hillary Clinton was in accepting defeat. The president-elect has already been invited to the White House by Barack Obama to begin implementing a transition team.
As our first order of business under this new American reality, can we all agree that our voting system is working just fine? Let’s dispense with any future sideshow distractions about “rigged” elections. If anything, Clinton’s Electoral College loss despite leading the popular vote demonstrates that the integrity of this unique representative republic remains intact. Rural voters punch above their weight in this system and that’s a good thing.
The people have spoken, but everybody is still grappling with the statement that voters made. Clearly half of the electorate is gravely disillusioned about the direction of the country. Trump’s populist message resonated with his supporters. But he was elected on little more than a promise to “drain the swamps” of the Washington, D.C. establishment. Obama said roughly the same thing eight years ago, but D.C. has never seen an outsider like Trump.
As Trump and his administration are soon to find out, getting elected might have been the easiest part of his plan to “Make America Great Again.” Now that America has given him the keys to the Oval Office, he has to supply the blueprint, the details and the spending plan to make the country prosperous and safer without diving deeper into debt.
Now all those assurances he made during his campaign — to build a wall and make Mexico pay for it, to round up undocumented immigrants, to ban Muslims from entering the country, to reassess our role in NATO, to pull out of trade agreements, to re-establish a manufacturing base and to get rid of Obamacare — have to take some tangible form lest Trump be accused of being the same kind of politician he derided throughout his campaign.
Winning an election after saying that he and he alone could fix Washington dysfunction sets the bar rather high.
In her late-morning concession speech Wednesday, Clinton urged her followers to give Trump a chance and keep an open mind about his intentions.
“We have seen that our nation is more deeply divided than we thought,” she said. “But I still believe in America and I always will.”
Trump has two years before the next mid-term election to push an agenda through a Republican-controlled Congress. We’ll have a better idea of how Republicans are reacting to the Trump presidency as his cabinet picks go through the confirmation process.
There will be plenty of time to assess how and why so many people were so wrong about Trump’s chances of winning the election. Strategies will emerge to make him a one-term president, especially if he proves to be the disaster that so many are predicting.
But Trump has a way of defying the odds. Who’s to say he won’t be a great president? The truth is, we don’t know much about him from a policy standpoint.
For now, we agree with Clinton that Trump deserves a chance to prove he can be an effective agent of change.