Whether you like it or not, the 2016 presidential election is now long over. It is a simple fact that America is sharply divided, and it will take a lot of charm, discipline and accomplishments by one man to reduce the amount of tension in this country. President-elect Donald Trump has a lot to prove, but we, too, as citizens, have many obligations as well. The job will be very difficult for both sides.
Trump has shown some softening on a number of the issues that helped him get elected, because once an election is over, reality sets in. Prosecuting Hillary Clinton is a popular idea among some of the Trump voters, but that isn’t a way to charm the scores of millions who didn’t vote for the new president. No doubt, there are a few members of Congress who have no original ideas or morals and who will try to pick up the sword and pursue Clinton for the sake of a headline, but they will fail if the president tells them to knock it off.
It is comforting to hear that Trump is hedging a little bit on issues such as global warming and waterboarding terrorists. I guess it helped that a respected general told him that you get more out of a terrorist with a pack of cigarettes and a can of beer than when you try to drown him. It was OK during the campaign to blame the Chinese for dreaming up global warming, but now that rising tides will threaten the Trump golf course in Scotland and the Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, it’s time for some sober thought.
There will be other statements by the president-elect that will reflect the reality of what the job entails, but I wouldn’t go to bed thinking that Trump is a new man who will completely reverse his campaign platform. There’s no doubt that the wall between Mexico and the U.S. will be enlarged by some more fences, but it will be us, the taxpayers, who subsidize it. The idea of deporting millions of immigrants has a great deal of sex appeal around the country, but I doubt there will be any mass purges in the near future. Any efforts to implement major deportations will be challenged in the courts for many years to come.
Many of Trump’s new appointments very much reflect the ideas of the voters who championed his cause. There will be many military people in the cabinet, and a few of his loyalists will wind up with significant positions. While a few moderate people may make it to the White House or some federal agency, don’t hold your breath waiting for any serious Democratic appointments or any prominent names beyond Mitt Romney.
The cold, hard fact of political life is that it is our duty as citizens to support the good things that Trump does and protest the things that we think will hurt our country. I do hold out hope for the possibility that he will invest a massive amount of money in fixing our roads, bridges, tunnels, airports and public schools. He has pledged to do that, and I think he will follow up, because that’s the way to create jobs, jobs and more jobs.
Despite the fact that some of his appointees have in the past shown themselves to be racist, homophobic, anti-woman and sometimes just plain irrational, I don’t believe that Trump wants to be remembered as the president who destroyed the American dream for people who just want to live for a better day.
So for now, let’s declare a temporary truce with our warring spouses, friends and relatives, some of whom didn’t vote the same way we did. I give the president-elect the benefit of the doubt, but reserve the right to be doubtful and angry.
Jerry Kremer was a state assemblyman for 23 years, and chaired the Assembly’s Ways and Means Committee for 12 years. He now heads Empire Government Strategies, a business development and legislative strategy firm. Comments about this column? JKremer@liherald.com.