Despite of mainstream media's refusal of giving him a proper endorsement, Trump’s victory does represent a movement and a phenomenon that a large population, bordering a majority of American citizens, is extremely fed up with 'political correctness' slogans uttered by politicians. The only meaningful yardstick that American voters could use amidst complex domestic issues and troubling foreign affairs is the question that are you better off today than eight years ago? An extension of that question is will you be better off in the next four or eight years, if the current administration and policies, most importantly the political bickering of bipartisan politics, persists? Obviously, enough citizens answered negative even with some of the supporters for Hillary Clinton, including many American elites.
Trump's victory surprised not only the American elites and a large number of American citizens but also the entire world. The result is anger now vented through protests (hopefully temporary) and media's critical watch (hopefully fair) on Trump and his team's conduct and policy changes. Yes, Trump used the presidential executive orders to illustrate his desire to keep his campaign promises. The most controversial executive order was related to protecting the U.S. from terrorism, stopping entry of Muslims to the U.S. from seven Muslim countries for 90 days. The intention was clear and consistent with his campaign statements but the media's criticism was also valid to the extent that the execution of the order would affect unfairly the international students, foreign employees and legal immigrants coming to the U.S. from these seven countries. Trump certainly has his unique personality and manners in considering issues, making decisions, communicating with the public and taking actions. The American public and the media, mandated by the result of the extremely transparent 2016 presidential election process, must understand that they either have to accept him or try to offer advice to influence him. The most sensible and constructive way is to give him a chance, time and space, to learn the complexity and enormity of the US Presidency by expressing our concerns to him with the ‘Respect’ due to the Presidency. In this column we will do just that.
First, we would like to tell President Trump that many Americans agree with him. The United States is in a dilemma and the country is at a cross road even though the people may seem to be divided on many issues in different ways. The divisions all contribute to the American Dilemma we all are facing that is to continue to lead the world incurring debt or to focus on our domestic interest to make us great again. The U.S. is a rich nation with her economy becoming the largest in the world since 1920’s. The U.S. is also the superpower with unmatchable military strength. However, in the past two decades, the U.S. engaged in wars that drained her treasury mounted a national debt to $19 trillion today. Hence, the US economy is weakened in contrast to the rapid development of Asian countries, especially China.
The decay of her once advanced infrastructure, dwindling of manufacturing industry, and burden of social welfare system compounded with political corruption and partisan division rendered the U.S. a stagnant economy with job loss, expense of unemployment welfare, and escalating healthcare cost. In addition, since the 9-11 terrorist attack, the US external military solution did not reduce but enhanced terrorism. National security becomes a major concern for the U.S. and a financial burden to the country. The necessary domestic measures in combating terrorism infringed her citizens' freedom and privacy and created tension among social and racial groups, distrust in government and media and unhappiness in families struggling with shrinking income. The failing diplomatic and military activities mounted her national debt and offered Americans a very dim future.
One of the crossroads of the US dilemma, continuing to lead the world with military strength, may be characterized with the traditional American Exceptionalism; whereas the other road, focusing on US economy and welfare of her people, may be characterized by a new American Exceptionalism (national economic excellence). This is a dilemma because evidence showed that it was difficult to do both well. Although this dilemma was not articulated clearly to the voters of the 2016 presidential election, the voters seemed to have appreciated it by aligning themselves behind "Make America Great Again" (Trump) more than behind "Together we are strong. Make America work."(Hillary). Even though the popular votes were close, Trump's slogan implying an admission of problems and a promise of drastic changes won the election.
Trump's team has to understand what does 'Great' in "Making America Great Again" mean to American people; their focus and emphasis cannot yoyo between the two crossroads. Military strength has a role to play but so does austerity in military budget to cut the waste and improve efficiency (and reduce oversea commitments perhaps) so the U.S. may put the money to make America great again. Earning money (trade), reducing national debt, rebuilding infrastructure, fixing healthcare system, stimulating industrial manufacturing capability, improving education and creating productive jobs are definitely in the 'Great' list. Foreign affairs and international relations must be dealt with care but cannot detract from the items on the 'Great' list. One may take a real estate case to illustrate the above point. When one is to renovate a home, the approach is very different from building a house for investors. The purpose of renovation of a 'home' is for the resident owner (American people) to have a great home by his definition of a great home not based on ideas attractive to others (foreigners).
In closing, we may cite an old political philosophy in ancient Chinese literature which is very appropriate for dealing with political dilemma. Citizens (people/voters) are like water. Water can float a boat (government/leader) as well as topple a boat all depending on the condition (mood) of the water. Calm water can keep a boat floating peacefully, say for people to fish in, but a turbulent water can topple a boat unexpectedly, for example, drowning the people on the boat. As the U.S. is at a crossroad and her citizens are divided, it is wise not to agitate the water to become turbulent but to focus on fulfilling the 'Great' list people wanted.