Inauguration Day is finally upon us after a presidential cycle that seemed to drag on until Congress certified the Electoral College vote last month and made the unthinkable inevitable: Donald Trump will become the 45th President of the United States.
As regular readers are aware, I never supported Donald Trump’s candidacy and chose to vote for Gary Johnson. However, my lingering concerns are matched by my philosophy that every new president deserves an open mind, and we can only credibly criticize the bad if we’re willing to praise the good. Besides—the president’s success is our country’s success, so why would any rational person root for failure?
That being said, I find it difficult not to be excited by these incredible times. Love him or hate him, no one denies that Trump tossed out the political playbook, ran it over with his limousine, tossed a lit cigar out the window to light it on fire, and got additional votes throughout the process. There is no script; he proved all the experts wrong; and we have no idea how this will turn out. (No, supporters and haters—we really don’t.)
So now, with the unimaginable becoming reality, there are a few big-picture items that I hope Trump understands:
1. Free trade is good. No, that’s a gross understatement. This gigantic global economy born and bred in America’s image relies upon free trade. It’s one of the rare issues where conservative and liberal economists agree. Does anyone out there think our households would be more prosperous if we grew our own food and manufactured our own wares? Oh, you think it’s more efficient to focus your labors on what you do well and buy the rest? Well, oddly enough, countries aren’t all that different.
2. Vladimir Putin is a bad guy. This should require no further explanation.
3. The Supreme Court could become Trump’s greatest legacy. These are lifetime appointments. The appointments he makes there—and to our federal Courts of Appeal and District Courts—will have ramifications for decades to come. I realize that Trump has mastered “the art of the deal,” but I sure hope he doesn’t sacrifice this enormous opportunity for votes on some legislative project that sounds cool in the near term.
4. Don’t forget about the rest of the Republican ticket. Trump ran for president as a Republican, and with great power comes great responsibility. Good governance relies on a strong multilateral team, ranging from Congress all the way down to city dog catcher. Trump has a tendency to be self-centered and petty, and therefore prone to head-scratching squabbling matches. If this were to reach the level of scorched-earth warfare within the Republican Party, it would do no one any good. Which brings me to my final point….
5. Leave the Republican Party in a better place than you found it. Donald Trump caught lightning in a bottle by harnessing a volatile mixture of anti-establishment fervor, nationalistic machismo, and blue-collar populism while drawing a weak opponent with a track record of dishonesty and corruption. That allowed him to get his foot into the door. But, what will he do now that he’s inside the White House? I hope he seizes the incredible opportunity before him and surrounds himself with bright people who devise innovative policy ideas that when implemented will demonstrably improve American lives. That is how we build coalitions and expand the party brand.
We live in incredibly exciting times right now. After months of endless speculation, we finally get to see what President Trump has in store. If he’s able to do even half as a good of a job as he seems to think he can do, then I think we’re in pretty good shape.