Whether you stayed up until 2 a.m. the other night, fell asleep before the official announcement, or spent Wednesday avoiding newspapers, television and social media, it’s probably sunk in by now that Donald J. Trump has been elected the next President of the United States of America. Now that we are forced to accept this reality, the next question that must be asked is what we as an “indivisible” nation should expect from Washington within the next few months and through the beginning of a Trump presidency.
The mere sound of the words “President-elect Trump” is a shock to the system. His positions on trade, paid family leave, and infrastructure make him unwelcome by the establishment Republican Party. And his alliance with the Alt-Right—a group whose core belief is that “White identity” is under attack by multicultural forces using “political correctness” and “social justice” to undermine White people and “their” civilization—makes him public enemy number #1 for the Democrats.
With that being said, President-Elect Trump has a real opportunity to lead from the center and codify the commitment he made during his acceptance speech, “Now it is time for America to bind the wounds of division, have to get together. To all Republicans and Democrats and independents across this nation, I say it is time for us to come together as one united people.” I for one think that is unlikely. But like so many others, I underestimated Trump in this election and could be wrong again.
More pressing is what Obama will try to get done during the remainder of his presidency. With a Merrick Garland U.S. Supreme Court nomination unlikely, one could only guess that the president will attempt to pass the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)–a trade agreement among twelve of the Pacific Rim countries. And on that, I would urge Obama not to move forward. For far too long, the Washington elite on both sides of the aisle have been bought and paid for by Wall Street and corporations. They have pushed trade deals that have hurt working families, pillaged America’s heartland, and in the process, have sacrificed America’s middle class. Last night, the American people rejected that ideology and now is the time for Washington to adjust.
Following Trump’s official inauguration, we as a nation must turn our attention and focus on how the new chief executive chooses to cooperate and effectively negotiate with Congress. With an incoming Republican president, as well as a retained GOP majority in the House and Senate, it would be nonsensical to think that the Republican party will not be capable of passing cooperative legislation relating to the party’s agenda. However, given Trump’s track record and extreme backlash from the majority of the GOP base, it will be interesting to see how the executive branch will interact and collaborate on policy issues with Federal legislatures.
Trump’s victory had everything to do with conviction and standing by one’s beliefs. I know today, many of folks have woken up to the horror of a Trump presidency. But instead of getting upset and giving up on our country and our democracy, we as a community must continue to fight forward for better. We need to see this setback as a set-up for a comeback. We must reject business as usual and begin to build a new civil rights movement. A movement that is built on courage, strength, and the unwillingness to accept compromise as progress.
After hours of fighting in one of the final battles of the American Civil War, the Battle of Appomattox Court House, General Lee’s Confederate army surrendered to Grant and his infantry. As Lee and his army rode away from the Union Army, Grant’s men began to cheer in celebration and mockery which was quickly silenced by the General. Grant later reflected on the event and stated that “The Confederates were now our countrymen, and we did not want to exult over their downfall.”
Only time will tell whether Trump treats Hillary Clinton’s constituency with the same respect and acceptance offered by General Grant. Regardless, this will be a major topic of discussion as one of the most controversial figures in American history has now been elected President during a time of unprecedented polarization in the U.S.
Richard Fowler is the host of the nationally syndicated radio program “The Richard Fowler Show,” which can also be viewed on YouTube as an affiliate of The Young Turks network. Follow him on Twitter @RichardAFowler.