Dear President-Elect Trump,
You astounded almost everyone by winning the 2016 U.S. election for President even though you narrowly lost the popular vote. But, half of all eligible voters in the country didn’t even bother to go to the polls. That means only about a quarter of the U.S. population really wanted you as their leader. Perhaps that’s why there are protests, even riots, in many places. Nevertheless, you can still win the hearts and minds of the populace without losing your base or compromising your promises. A key part of that is Congress. President Obama lost control of Congress and look what they did to him. So, President-Elect Trump, you should consider preparing now for the 2018 midterm elections.
The campaign seemed to be all about scandals, on both sides. The debates were largely about scandals and foreign relations. Americans got tired of it so consider doing things they’ll notice and care about. Think of your constituents as individuals not just a big group. Give them things that affect them directly as individuals.
Here are some things to think about for developing popular support in the early days of your administration.
- Do things that people want – People want to pursue happiness. To do that, they need money, health, safety, and opportunity. That translates into freedom from discrimination, a good job, healthcare, regulatory safeguards, military and police protection, and a fast internet connection. They also need time available for their pursuits. Do things that will give individuals what they need.
- Prevent things that people fear – People fear things they can’t control. They fear being hungry, homeless, sick, unemployed, and imprisoned. They fear for their family, their friends, their communities, their country, and their planet. Do things that will calm their fears.
- Do things that people understand in a way they can understand – You won’t benefit from helping people unless they understand that they are being helped and you are responsible. Renegotiating trade deals may be important but most people won’t understand the benefit unless it improves their life by giving them a better job or lowering the cost of their necessities.
- Do something completely out of character – A quarter or more of the population believes you are a racist, misogynistic, homophobic, xenophobic bigot. Consider doing things to make them question that belief. Nixon was no friend of the environment but he created the Environmental Protection Agency. Reagan gave amnesty to illegal immigrants. Surprise people like you did with the election.
- Avoid hot button issues – Stay away from divisive issues like Social Security, Medicare, immigration, abortion, and climate change. Don’t get involved in shouting matches until you and your Administration have settled in.
Turning those strategic ideas into action will require creativity and commitment. You have a wealth of those qualities but you’ll also need an open mind. So, here are ten specific actions that you might consider taking that will resonate with the people who are protesting your election as well as the people who voted for you.
1. Tone Down the Rhetoric
The campaign is over now so moderate the hate speech. Stay off social media. Let your press secretary do the talking. Don’t hold a lot of press conferences. Reagan held only one press conference every two months; every other president since him has held two or more per month. Every speech at the beginning of your term is more likely to stress people out than it is to reassure them. You might also highlight your support for Melania’s anti-bullying initiative. It’s a good cause and you don’t have to do much of anything. It’ll put a positive spin on how people perceive you.
2. Control Congress
Anything bad that happens during your term will be attributed to you, no matter who does it. You must control Congress. Senators and Representatives will be both supporters and loose cannons. Some of those people aren’t just power-hungry, self-serving opportunists, they’re downright crazy. They’re the old guard, the establishment, the people you promised to throw out of Washington. Don’t give Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan free reign to do what they want. You will pay for their idiocrasy. And Mike Pence, he doesn’t really want you to be successful, he wants your job. People are stressed out when there is too much overt dissention in the government. Keep it under control.
3. Enhance, Don’t Repeal Obama’s Work
You said you were going to repeal Obamacare and cancel all of Obama’s executive orders. Go slow on this. Many people who voted for you benefit from Obama’s actions, though they may not understand that they do. You should take the good parts and add your own ideas. Remember, Obama has a higher favorability rating than even Reagan. You might even consider finishing some of his initiatives. Let the nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court be voted on. He’s a moderate not a liberal and you will have other opportunities to appoint much more conservative judges and justices in the future when it won’t look so bad.
4. Close a Few Gun Loopholes
You were going to do it anyway, so just go ahead and close those loopholes on purchases of weapons at trade shows and over the internet. Get it over with and dampen the national preoccupation with the topic. Maybe there’ll be fewer people pushing to require insurance or ban assault weapons. Then you can move on to topics you would prefer to talk about.
5. Appoint Minorities to Political Positions
You will have to appoint 4,000 individuals to political positions in your administration. Who cares if there are minorities, LGBTQ, or non-Christians among them. Who cares if you put a Muslim in charge of the General Services Administration; most people don’t even know what they do. In all those appointments, there’s only a thin crust of people at the top who set important policy. Don’t worry about the rest.
6. Pardon Both Sides
If you want them in your administration, you’re going to have to pardon Christie, Giuliani, Comey, and maybe even Melania and the kids from what they might have done. No sense waiting until the end of your term, do it early in your administration when you can benefit from it. If you do, why not throw a bone to the other side. Pardon Snowden, the protestors of the Dakota Access Pipeline, and all the non-violent drug users in prison. Better yet, pardon Hillary. She’s history; no longer any threat to Republicans. A pardon says she’s guilty of something. It will force Congress to do real work to benefit your supporters rather than just investigating her. That’ll save millions.
7. Legalize Marijuana and Hemp
This is a no-brainer. Most people want it legalized, both Republicans and Democrats, conservatives and liberals. People from all walks of life use it, even many elected officials. You can empty the prisons of non-violent drug offenders and make room for real criminals. You can reprogram federal law enforcement to safeguard people against terrorism and white-collar crime, like identity theft and financial misdeeds. Best of all, it’ll create jobs in a new manufacturing industry that can be located anywhere, from Alaska to Florida. Look at what’s happening in Colorado, less crime, less addiction, and lots and lots of tax revenues.
8. Improve Internet Access and Security
Internet access has become one of the new necessities of life, right after food and shelter. Everybody, as you well know, could benefit from it. But, there are still many parts of the country, primarily rural areas, that do not have access. Some have access but the connection is sporadic or painfully slow. Some could have access but can’t afford it. Consider making a point of supporting rural expansion and net neutrality initiatives. Do what you can to prevent identity theft and provide cyber security. And if you learn anything about the existence of extraterrestrials on Earth, please see that it gets uploaded where we can all see it.
9. Simplify Elections
This is problematical because you can’t make most changes unilaterally. Even Congress can’t do it alone since elections are controlled by States. Still, you can propose a package of recommendations for states to adopt. It will take time but you have until 2018 or 2020. The package might contain:
- Automatic Registration. Send the message that we expect citizens to vote unless they specifically opt out.
- Open Party Primaries. In some states, you can only vote for your party’s primary challengers. That’s the way of the old establishment that you want to eliminate. Everyone should be able to vote for the candidate of their choice in every election.
- Regional Primaries. What a pain it must be for candidates to fly across the country to campaign in whatever states are holding primaries. Divide the states into regions based on geography and population and have all the states in a region hold their primaries on the same day. Rotate the primary dates around the regions every four years.
- Instant Runoff Voting. There are many ways to allow voters to express their preferences more clearly, including ranked choice voting. Even Mainers think it’s a good idea.
- Election Month. Long lines at polling places unnecessarily discourage voters. Instead of one Election Day, make October Election Month. Have everyone vote by mail or over the internet. Have all states report their certified results by the traditional Election Day. Forget the idea of making Election Day a national holiday. There’s always somebody who has to work even on a national holiday.
- No Electoral College. The Electoral College was a good idea a century ago but its time has passed. It’s time to allow citizens to elect their leaders directly.
- Voter Incentives. There are many disincentives for voters, like having to register, long lines at the polls, and a perception that a single vote doesn’t make a difference. Give them a reward for voting, like a tax break on their income taxes.
10. Simplify Taxes
This will also take some time since there are so many people with vested interests, but if you start on your first day in office, you’ll have a year to get it done by 2018. Focus on income and deductions. The accountants can work out the rates. Include ALL forms of income EXCEPT social security. Most of the people who gave you a vote only get hourly or annual salary. Lift the cap on payroll deductions; most people don’t make over $127,000. Remove as many deductions as you can but let people deduct all their medical, educational, and childcare expenses. That will address some of the grumbling over Obamacare and free college.
So there you have it President Trump, ten ways you can bring some of your haters into your camp. Give a few of them a try. You might be surprised with the results.
November 11, 2016