On Trump, Reagan was right, “Trust but Verify”

It’s been over 10 days now for everyone to absorb the full reality of what happened on election day. It also took me about that long to really think through what I think I just witnessed. I have several observations and then a roadmap for the future:

1- Wow. I knew that some people had some long held distrust and contempt for Hillary Clinton but I did not realize just how deep and burning they were. I have a lot of really smart, thoughtful and respected friends who love this country but voted for Trump due to their long held distaste for Hillary. They swallowed a lot of spit, fire and vinegar that Trump was slinging and still voted for him rather than vote for her. Wow. But as surprised as I was, some very smart people were not. Read here to see Michael Moore predict the election results all the way back in July 2016.

2- Why the hell are college white guys so excited for Trump? They are the group I most worry about for our future because of their misplaced love/hate. Trump appealed to a lot of groups who have long since been ignored. His message on trade, banking, taxes, and rigged systems rang true with an enormous amount of Americans who have long since been taken for granted as globalization, automation, robotics, and trade deals have wreaked havoc on thousands of small towns in the US. But what’s up with white guys in the college? When I saw this picture on the New York Times from Election Night, I thought, “When have these guys ever been a victim or left out in our society?” That same set of conditions Trump railed about has done nothing but benefit the college educated white guy for the last 240 years in the United States. What are they screaming about? If they think life is stacked against them, then they have a rude awakening coming in the future when women and immigrants run circles around them in the next 40 years.

3- Like Reagan, I believe it’s important to “Trust but Verify.” That’s why I was impressed with two stories I saw right here in Austin, Texas. The first was Council Member Greg Casar promising to stand up and resist against bigotry, racism, sexism and xenophobia. The second story was a 20 year old Muslim Iraqi immigrant who stood between violent Anti-Trump protesters and a “Proud Deplorable” Trump voter. It was an amazing scene as she put herself (complete with her hijab and all) between the Trump supporter and the angry anti-Trump supporters telling them to stand down. Amazing. I wish I could have been there to stand with her.

4- On a positive note, I have reason to believe that the President is supported by thousands of patriotic Americans that will smooth out any spike (in any direction) that some might fear takes us too far in any direction that might damage our country. I’ve studied the American Presidency for 30 years and even had the honor to teach the American Presidency at West Point with one of the finest Presidential scholars in the United States, Dr. Meena Bose. I also recently found out that I have colleagues and friends that I greatly admire that were pulled into the Trump transition team. It reassures me to know that they are in the inner circle working to make sure that the new President has the best advice and counsel possible. I also thinks it’s cool that pop culture is finding a way to remind our new executive leadership team of the tremendous responsibility they have on their shoulders. Last night at a performance of Hamilton (ironically an immigrant) the cast reminded VP-elect Mike Pence of the importance of diversity and protecting “All of Us.”

5- Another reason for concern is for all those who felt like Trump was their last chance to bring back the jobs that have left their towns and factories. They rallied to his promise that he would bring back their jobs and restore a life they knew to “Make America Great Again.” I not only have friends and family that voted for Trump, but I met strangers who felt very strongly he would restore jobs and their financial security. One day in Dallas this fall, I met some of those Trump supporters. I talked with women who acknowledged Trump had made a lot of terrible comments about women but still felt his economic promise was worth it in the long run. But why I worry so much for them is that in the news Friday was a story very quietly announced that lawyers for Trump agreed to settle the Trump University fraud scandal with a $25 million payment. In other words, Trump has already been on record promising millions of Americans a chance to improve their lives and he’ll restore their status in life. It turned out to be a swindle. As a result, they paid a settlement of $25 million. I just worry for the millions of disenfranchised Americans who put their hope in Trump that he has not perpetrated another fraud. Trust but verify.

6- Finally, regardless of what you thought before the elections and you read on Facebook, the final result is simple: the DNC and the Clinton leadership team had its political clock cleaned. They won the popular vote but they failed to run a politically savvy enough campaign to win the Electoral College. Nancy Pelosi has now presided over 68 lost Democratic seats in the House. And, the GOP is in turmoil whether they realize it or not. Trump is not really a Republican, perhaps a Democrat at heart, or more likely a new party unto itself. The GOP leadership rightly shrank from Trump’s rhetoric but failed to speak out loud enough against Trump’s dog whistle hateful speech or to embrace its populist message of working class people (of all races) feeling left out. Trump is either going to turn out to be an amazing President or one of the worst. It’s a pivotal point for our American experience like only a few we have seen in the past. He has a chance to be either a Buchanan or a Lincoln. Or he can choose between a Hoover or an FDR. It really is up to him. He has disrupted the American political landscape like no one since Andrew Jackson. I say we “Trust but Verify.”

My Roadmap for the future:

It’s time to put country over party.

The solution for our problems today is to have more Americans participate in the process and make their voice heard. Moderation and conversation will solve this problem as well as people starting to put country over party. Let’s spend the next four years with a little less time watching reality TV and a little more time living in the reality of today. And reading the news. Visit a city council meeting. Write your representative. Sign a petition. There are millions of Americans that still need to see improvement in their lives.

I look forward to working with anyone who wants to work to solve our problems in a moderate, thoughtful way to achieve a compromise we can all live with.