Op-ed: The folks strike back
I know the following statement will come as a surprise to the entire Democratic Party, the mainstream media, and most of this campus, but stick with me. On Friday, Jan. 20 at noon, Donald Trump will officially become president of the United States, and there is nothing you can do to stop it.
Since the election, most liberals have been in abject hysteria about the incoming administration. Instead of soberly pondering the reasons that Donald Trump won and charting a path forward, leftists all across the country have taken this loss with a stunning lack of introspection. As it turns out, a party that caters to the coastal elites, lifelong academics and the perennially aggrieved campus left isn’t all that great at winning a national election. Go figure.
But I’m not here to rub your noses in Trump’s impressive victory. I’m here to deliver an honest critique of Trump’s administration so far.
It is no secret that I’ve had my differences with Trump. Even though I voted for Trump in the primary and the general, I’ve had some severe disagreements with him along the way. My club, the AU College Republicans, overwhelmingly voted to disavow Trump after a series of unfortunate events this past summer. I chronicled our decision in these pages in early August. However, as election day grew nearer, I came to the conclusion that Trump was the best choice to become president of our great nation. Thankfully, 63 million Americans agreed with me, and Donald Trump will be our next president.
So far, I’ve been largely content with my decision to vote for Trump. Trump’s cabinet picks have been bold and inspired. While a conventional president from either political party would have likely stacked his or her administration with run-of-the-mill political hacks, Trump has staffed his cabinet with political outsiders.
Much like Trump himself, appointees like Rex Tillerson, Steven Mnuchin Betsy DeVos and Wilbur Ross could have stayed in the private sector and continued to make millions. Each appointee decided to give up a lavish lifestyle to serve the American people, and all have faced endless scorn from the left and the media. There is a lot of honor in that.
Throughout this election, I learned a lot about the kind of people I grew up with: normal, hard-working Americans that still chase the American dream. I’m from Rochester, New York, a town in western New York that has been decimated by free trade. Kodak, a film company that employed 60,000 Rochesterians at its peak, has outsourced or laid off all but several thousand jobs. Companies like Xerox, Bausch and Lomb, Gannett Publishing, IBM and Frontier Communications have laid off a large number of my friends and family members.
Working-class Americans saw Trump as a champion for their values, not the values of the coastal elites. They saw him as uniquely qualified to keep jobs in this country, and to drain the D.C. swamp. They took his words seriously, not literally, and welcomed his bluntness as a refreshing change from the argle-bargle of a normal politician.
Despite the relentless sneering contempt from the same elites that got our country in a mess in the first place (and probably got richer for it), these folks were courageous enough to pull the lever for the one man who would dismantle the system that is rigged against them. They wore the red hats, knocked on the doors, went to the rallies, put up the lawn signs, donned the pins and bumper stickers and became unprecedentedly active in the political process.
They defended Trump to the hilt for every transgression because they believed in his message. For once, they got their wish. This election was about them, not the think-tank types who decry Trump’s every move as “problematic” (to use a new favorite PC buzzword) or an affront to democracy. This election was about the people who make an honest day’s pay for an honest day’s work. These are humble, decent people who have finally found a voice in their government. It was about damn time.
It is now up to Trump to be worthy of the moment. Starting Friday, Trump has a long road ahead of him in making America great again. He has to dismantle a system reflexively opposed to changes in the status quo. He has to contend with an unusually hostile press corps more comfortable with snarking on Twitter with fellow “journalists” and publishing disgustingly fake dossiers than actually reporting facts.
Trump has to regain the trust of vanquished opponents who decry him as “illegitimate” without basis, and build a bridge to those with whom he disagrees. I am optimistic about the road ahead, and excited for the new opportunities a Trump presidency brings.
I’ll close with a gracious quote from Secretary Hillary Clinton’s concession speech: “Donald Trump is going to be our president. We owe him an open mind and a chance to lead.” If Secretary Clinton can afford President Trump that opportunity, so can you.
Tom Hebert is a junior in the School of Public Affairs and is the president of AU College Republicans.