I know I’m a day early, you won’t officially own that title until noon tomorrow, but I wanted to get the hang of it. President Donald Trump. The 45th person to own that title in the history of the United States.
Forty Five people out of the 545 million Americans who have ever been. Pretty select group. Like everyone else in the U.S. today with a Twitter, Facebook, and/or email account I have some thoughts about this.
You come into office at a good time. You have majorities in the House and Senate who, even if only for their own selfish purposes (the 2018 mid-term elections) want you to succeed. But, on this Inauguration let’s be charitable toward all and say they want you to succeed because they ran to build a better America and a better world, and you are the general contractor.
You also enjoy Republican majorities among Governors of 33 States and 67 of the 98 partisan state legislatures. In 25 states you have a “trifecta” Republican control of both legislative chambers and the Governor.
With such bounty comes great responsibility. As David Avella, chairman of the Republican organization that trains candidates to run for state legislatures said after the election, “We have to deliver on breaking down barriers to job creation, we have to deliver on putting more money in people’s pockets through tax cuts and through higher wages.”
Please do not squander this political plenty. And please do not convince yourself this is all your doing. Much of the GOP’s electoral success in November was at least as much due to a Democratic Party unable to see the world they inherited from FDR has evolved into a Steve Jobs era.
I don’t put much stock, Mr. President, in the Democrats’ plaintive whining about Hillary Clinton having received nearly three million more votes than you did. If it mattered, tomorrow she would be standing on a platform in Sacramento being sworn in as the President of California.
Don’t make the mistake of being treated by all these Republicans like you are Louis XIV. You are the President of the United States, not the Chairman of The Trump Organization. As Dwight Eisenhower (probably apocryphally) said:
“When I was Commander-in-Chief of the European Theater I could move a million men with a phone call. Now that I’m President of the United States I can’t get anyone to do anything.” The time table is interesting. Your First 100 Days (introduced into the political lexicon by FDR) will be watched closely. Your first two years will be scored by the results of the first mid-term elections in 2018. The next four years will determine what happens in 2020 should you run for re-election.
My advice to you is to stop Tweeting every time you feel you have been dissed by some public figure. If you want to be able to get up in the morning, you have to have a sense of humor which, alas, has not been much on display.
Having a sense of humor cannot be limited to sneering and sniping at opponents. The most important sense of humor is the one that allows you to laugh at yourself.
We have never seen that.
Do not label political opponents as your enemies. Presidents are successful when they say and do things that bring former opponents into the fold. They are not successful if they spend time trying to punish those opponents.
The press corps is never going to be your pal. That’s not its job. Its job is to poke and prod, to get beneath the surface of statements and releases to discover what may be going on out of sight. They are not your enemies, either.
But, don’t make the mistake of believing even the most pliant news outlet is your friend. If the story’s good enough, they’ll go with it no matter how damaging to you, your policies, or your Administration.
As to foreign policy, I urge you to reflect on your predecessor, George Washington’s, farewell address – which was really a 32-page hand-written letter:
“Against the insidious wiles of foreign influence, the jealousy of a free people ought to be constantly awake; since history and experience prove that foreign influence is one of the most baneful foes of Republican Government.”
In closing, Mr. President, let me say that I fervently want you to succeed. I didn’t vote for you, but you are the leader of 325 million Americans and your every action and word will have an effect on some, most, or all of the Earth’s seven billion people. A mother in Malawi is no less concerned about her child than a mother in Missouri.
Godspeed, Mr. President.