For the nation’s sake and his success in the next four years, President-elect Donald Trump cannot waste any time in establishing common ground with his detractors – in and out of the Republican Party.
The skill had eluded candidate Trump, who during his campaign had been scathing and sometimes savage toward anyone perceived as an obstacle in his path to the White House.
However, speaking as the newly elected leader of the United States on Wednesday morning, the real estate mogul finally struck a new tone. He sounded presidential and pragmatic, as if he, or a close adviser, fully grasps what will be necessary in order for him to guide a sharply divided American society.
“To all Republicans and Democrats and independents across this nation, I say it is time for us to come together as one united people,” he told supporters at a New York City hotel shortly before 3 o’clock in the morning.
“Working together,” he said, “we will begin the urgent task of rebuilding our nation and renewing the American dream.”
Of particular note, Trump singled out his plan to invest heavily in repairing highways, bridges, tunnels, airports and other critical parts of our communities. That’s as good a place as any to start forming a coalition among lawmakers from “red states,” “blue states,” and those states that bounce back and forth.
Here are a handful of topics on which Trump initially could concentrate to build some much-needed good will and to do good, possibly even huge, things for this country.
• Infrastructure. Putting money into upgrades for U.S. interstates, railways and ports can pay off in increased commerce for years to come, plus it offers the immediate benefit of putting people to work on these improvement projects. The Obama administration missed an opportunity to spur more of this activity in its multibillion-dollar stimulus package and subsequent efforts to revive the horrendous economy it inherited in 2009.
• Health care. Dismantling the Affordable Care Act will leave millions of consumers in a lurch. Trump and congressional members would be wise to fully consider what the ACA’s replacement would be, or whether core pieces of it should remain intact and bipartisan action taken to solve its shortfalls.
• National debt. At $19 trillion, it might be manageable, but it certainly doesn’t seem smart to carry that load. There are possible solutions, if lawmakers dare to pursue them.
• Supreme Court nominations. Republicans wrongly declined to consider President Barack Obama’s most recent nominee. In the new year, there will need to be a new attitude about filling vital court posts.
By focusing on these and other areas of shared concern, Trump can begin to give doubters hope that his raw language and rancor were temporary tools, not deeply embedded traits. People need to see less animosity (ie: anti-Muslim comments) from their new leader, replaced by a we’re-all-in-it-together attitude.
After all, that’s what makes America great.