Since last Tuesday, I’ve been pretty much laying off of the news. But I do seem to recall having heard Donald Trump say that he was looking for advice. I suspect he meant from folks with stature and policy cred. I suspect he meant from Republicans. But maybe there was a bit of citizens invited in there, too.
So here goes:
Dear Mr. President-Elect:
In the spirit of moving the country forward, and taking you at your word that you’re interested in advice, I respectfully and sincerely offer you the following.
- Please do not choose someone as your Chief of Staff someone who is associated with the Alt Right. That would be Steve Bannon. Yes, I understand you want and need someone of proven loyalty, but Bannon is a metaphorical bomb-thrower. And his organization, Breitbart, is/has been a channel for the Alt Right. One of the reasons why so many people fear (and I do mean FEAR) your presidency is because of your campaign’s guilt-by-association with forces of nativism, white supremacism, homophobia,Islamophobia,anti-Semitism, anti-feminism, etc. This may not be you. It probably isn’t you.
But your putting Bannon in such a key role will do nothing to assure the American people that you want to unify the country. Far better, the anodyne pragmatist, Reince Priebus. On the other hand, picking Bannon will send a message that will embolden the Alt Right, and demonstrate to the voters in this country who did not support your candidacy – and remember, there are a lot more of them out there than those who chose you – that you don’t want to be associated with those who wear hoods and burn crosses. (I may have way too much faith in New Yorkers and Wharton grads, but jeez, do you really want American Nazis whooping it up on your behalf? I bet Ivanka doesn’t.)
NOTE: This was written before Reince Priebus was named chief of staff. Good. My advice is already being heeded. Unfortunately, Bannon will have a senior roll as chief strategist. Swell.
- Please tell your team to stop playing footsie with the lock-her-up brigade. You and I both know that, for all the bad optics, the likelihood that there was pay-for-play between the Clinton Foundation and public policy when Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State is just about nil. Obviously, if there’s some obvious ‘there there’, it can’t be ignored. But trumped up investigations based on the speculation of some discredited right-wing writer, and yet more endless rounds of go-nowhere hearings, are going to look like Banana Republic vengeance. Just drop it.
- Please name Merrick Garland your first Supreme Court pick. Progressives weren’t thrilled with the nomination of Garland, viewing him as far too conservative. Mattered not, as it turned out, since the Republican Senate so disgracefully refused to consider his appointment, and, in fact, made it known (some of them) that they wouldn’t entertain any choices that Hillary Clinton would have made. Think about it. Picking Garland would announce that you’re not interested in putting ideological extremists of any stripe on the Court, but want measured, thoughtful, centrists. I suspect that this runs closer to your personal feelings than choosing someone from the far right, anyway. Be your own man, here. Pick Garland. Or make choices who are more centrist than some of the names being thrown about. (Ted Cruz?)
- Please get a decent infrastructure bill going. Soon. Some folks are warning Democratic reps and senators not to get caught too quickly in the trap of helping you build up your capital with something that will no doubt have such broad-based support. But we have a lot of projects that need to get done, and a lot of folks (mostly blue collar guys) ready to start swinging a hammer. This won’t all be done by giving tax credits to the private sector. And it shouldn’t be. We need a serious discussion in this country on whether its worth spending our own money on projects that will bring our infrastructure – roads, bridges, airports, railroads, etc. – up to first world standards. Why not start it?
- Please meet with some climate scientists. You have famously said – jokingly or not – that your believe that global warming is a hoax. I don’t know what the percentage is, but it seems pretty clear that most scientists believe that the earth is getting warmer, even if that means that it sometimes snows in El Paso and the cherry blossoms appear in mid-winter Boston. The degree to which man-made activity may be contributing to the warming may be subject to some debate, but the science with respect to whether it is occurring is, in fact, settled. You need to hear out the experts on this; the stakes are far to high to just let the ice caps melt, the seas rise, etc. Even if it is an all natural phenomenon – and the science does, in fact, point to that NOT being the case - we still need to be doing something about it. So when you’re listening, please don’t just listen to those claiming that all environmental protection is nothing but a nonsense job-killer. (At least without asking yourself precisely why they might be making such contentions.) And please keep in mind that your kids and grandkids drink the water and breathe the air. The EPA was created for a reason.
- Please apologize for a few things. You’ve a tip-toed around some of this, but how about making a statement along the lines of ‘I tend to shoot my mouth off without thinking, and sometimes I say things that are crude, offensive, demeaning, insulting. Plenty of us do it at times, but I seem to do it more than most. I’m sorry about that, and will try do better.’ Personally, I’d like to see an apology for birtherism. Now that you’re almost the president yourself, I’m sure that you can appreciate how terrible it can be for the country to have someone undermining the grave work of the presidency with baseless innuendo and attack.
- Please, never use the word mandate. If you’d won this election by even one more vote than Hillary Clinton then, sure, knock yourself out. But surely you know that losing the popular vote by a non-trivial amount to your direct competitor, and by a pretty significant amount when you factor in the third party votes, does not constitute a mandate. Acknowledge this, and make it clear that you’re not going to use your election to trample all over things that the majority of the voters in the country in fact want.
- Please disclose any indebtedness that the Trump Organization has to Russia and China. From day one, concerns over your organization’s ties to these and other foreign countries will be a big, black cloud hovering over your administration – an outcome, by the way, of your not having disclosed such information during the campaign. We cannot be looking over every foreign policy decision and wondering whether there was something personal motivating it that we can’t see. Having your children run your company in your absence doesn’t make this go away. When a decision could benefit the Trump Organization, how will the decision by made, and by whom?
I’m sure I can come up with more, but this is it for now.
Wishing you and the country the best of luck.
Citizen Invited, Maureen Rogers
I may have other political screeds up my sleeve, but tomorrow Pink Slip returns (at least for a while) to non-political form.