For most of his career, Donald Trump has exploited opportunities to enrich himself. He has exploited the tax code to shelter millions of dollars from taxation for years, he has exploited the bankruptcy laws to avoid paying creditors on loans made to Trump or his businesses, exploited low income workers at his hotels, exploited women for his amusement. Now, he has exploited an economic stagnation in the United States to vault himself into one of the most powerful positions in the free world, the U.S. Presidency. It was Trump’s exploitation of the fear and anger of American’s who suffer from economic hardship that made his unlikely triumph a reality. The vulnerable underbelly of the U.S is exposed.
Will he now exploit the U.S. people, America’s vast natural, technological and material resources for the benefit of himself and those who are part of his inner circle? That is indeed the type of result seen in other countries around the world that do not respect or practice democratic ideals. Did the fox get into the hen house? How do we reinforce and protect those ideals that lay at the foundation of our democracy, the ideals that were sullied and trampled in this sordid election? What does a Trump presidency mean for us as women, as men, as youth, as Americans?
It does not mean that we go back to our daily lives deflated and defeated. Races in some states were so close that less than a 1% difference separated the two candidates. Republicans do not have a mandate. The results of this election are our motivation. It is our wake up call to exercise our democratic rights of free speech, free assembly, and the right and duty to hold our leaders accountable, and in a non-violent way, to make our voices heard.
Trump’s electoral win is our fork in the road, our critical moment. We have an opportunity to create a centrist movement, moving our country back to the middle where more of us share in the economic benefits of this great country.
So, we accept that Donald Trump has won the election, but we also demand that the policies and actions taken by his administration are transparent and consistent with our Constitution and the duties of the Office of the U.S President.
We demand that his legislative agenda reflect the values of moderate America, not those of extremists. Trump lost the popular vote. The only path forward is through compromise and moderate policies that acknowledge the complexity of the issues rather than rely on simple ideology.
To best ensure the well-being of our democracy and our lives, we must now engage, care, stay aware, and participate in our democracy. We cannot return to our normal lives as we have for our previous elections. Trump spouted extreme statements and incited the expression of views that are inconsistent with our democracy’s principles. He must now persuade his extreme followers and reassure the rest of a nervous nation that those extreme views have no place in the U.S. and will not be tolerated.
How can he do that? To Donald Trump, words are just tools used to further his immediate but transient goals; they are not an expression of his values nor can we rely upon them. Trump has a credibility problem.
To show his good faith and commitment to the people of this country, President Elect Trump needs to extend an olive branch. That olive branch is his support for a vote by the Senate on the nomination of Judge Merrick Garland as a Supreme Court Justice. Conservatives have nothing to fear from Judge Garland. In his almost two decades on the D.C. federal appellate court, he has shown judicial restraint and avoided judicial activism and expressly stated that the role of the judiciary is to apply the law rather than to legislate or solve societal problems. In support of his nomination, a conservative jurist on the D.C. Circuit, described Judge Garland as a “brilliant jurist…and someone who works well with others.” With a Congress and country so sharply divided, President Elect Trump’s support for Judge Garland as a nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court could earn him the title of a Consensus Builder and the credit for beginning to unite our divided country, if he has the courage to do so.