Cartoon by Dave Granlund, Politicalcartoons.com
President Donald Trump.
From the moment in 2015 when he launched a presidential bid that seemed as much a publicity stunt as a political campaign until the minute the first polls closed Nov. 8, we never thought the reality show king would become the 45th U.S. president.
Now we all must build a nation that provides opportunity and protects the rights of everyone.
Trump had been criticized for undermining the foundation of American democracy by refusing to say he would accept the election results. Now he is the exemplar of that democracy: someone who overcame polls and media predictions by spurring strong turnout to put him in position for a peaceful handover of power from a president who mocked him and has reason (the birther nonsense) to despise him.
Trump’s critics must not repeat his error: They must accept the results, no matter how sad, mad or bewildered they are.
Despite fears that Trump will roll back access to abortion, birth control and health care and use the Bill of Rights as a checklist for freedoms to eliminate — if he doesn’t skip straight to fascist dictatorship or nuclear holocaust — we don’t know any more about what he will do as an elected official than he knows about living on only $400,000 a year (his new salary).
He’s a blank canvas, and his graciousness in victory early Wednesday provides hope for anyone who is willing to work for the common good. With a man who hits back whenever he is attacked but who also relishes making deals, the best approach is to give him a chance and to try to work with and sway him.
The outreach and reconciliation must run both ways. People who voted for Trump in the belief that he is not a racist, sexist, would-be authoritarian must keep a close eye on him and work to prevent any excesses. They share the responsibility for ensuring that 2016 will not be remembered as the start of America’s descent into irrelevance or worse.
Trump voters, both true believers and those who acted out of dislike for Hillary Clinton, must demonstrate that aside from an ugly, vocal fringe — something like the 3 percent of the electorate won by the vile David Duke in Louisiana’s Senate primary Nov. 8 — they are not the uneducated, hate-driven know-nothings Clinton herself depicted with her regrettable “basket of deplorables” comment.
If we all open our minds and eyes instead of letting our fears and prejudices blur our perceptions, we might realize that we are not so dramatically divided.
As “Saturday Night Live” showed during a “Black Jeopardy” skit with Tom Hanks last month, the pain and frustration of the nonurbanites who put Trump over the top Tuesday parallel the feelings of blacks and Hispanics trapped in an urban cycle of poverty.
Cutting across demographic lines, many if not most Americans feel forgotten and unwanted in 21st century society. The American Dream has no meaning for them, and they are willing to tear apart a system that does not serve them, whether the image of their despair is a boarded-up row of homes, a shuttered factory or a lost family farm.
We’ll all be better off if Trump can find policies to help them.