Thank you for helping to remove Donald Trump from office. The last four years have probably been the most dangerous since the Civil War. And I think I can speak for everyone when I say I support your call to be the President for everyone, free from all parties, not just there for the people who voted for you.
However, if we’re going to start restoring correct political norms that will benefit everyone, one of the first norms from the public has to be that we can not give in to a cult of personality and that we have a duty to oppose those in power, and especially those whom we voted for.
I voted for you, not because I agree with much of the policies you proposed, but because you seem to be a decent human being and that is what we need right now (I’d prefer a decent human being who has the correct policies, but I didn’t have that as an option this time). And I think that many of the people who voted for you are in the same camp. We are moderates, a few practical Libertarians, and Never Trump Republicans. We didn’t vote for you to expand the ACA or tax the rich or bring about the Green New Deal, but because we needed someone to restore sanity to America. And that milquetoast victory speech that was more boilerplate than substance is not a good start—I can admit that a victory speech may not be the best time to pick a fight and it might be a tactical choice to wait until January 20th before picking fights, but there did seem some missed opportunities there, but again, I will write it up as a tactical choice.
Now, I hope that you are looking to be what we hope you would be, but I’m going to state what I think most of us believe, and hope that at least the ideas presented here will reach you in some form.
First off you need to bridge the gap with conservatives, real conservatives, not the populist hacks that have taken over the PR functions of the party. That means there should be three to four Never Trump Republicans in your cabinet. Just one token Republican in the Department of Transportation won’t do it. You need to make a sincere effort to reach across the aisle and find the best people for every position. It might be a bit too much to hope that you put Paul Ryan in as Secretary of Treasury, but something that blatant is needed. Further, you need to reject BOTH extremes, obviously the Trump wing of insanity must be rejected, but so must the Warren/Sanders/AOC wing of your own party—if you want to heal this nation then these illiberal extremes must be given exactly zero power—the illiberal left is just as dangerous as the illiberal right. To embrace the far left is just as bad as Trump’s embrace of populism, it is an illiberal philosophy that has no place in America and if you tolerate it, then your words of hope, opportunity, and healing are only words. Also, if you’re going to go after Trump and work on reforming the police through legal federal means, you’re going to need a Republican AG to avoid making it look like a liberal crusade—I have no idea who, but a conservative AG would deflect most the criticism from all but the Alex Jones crowd (and there was never any hope of getting their support).
Second, you need to calm the worries over the Supreme Court. The left is justifiably angry over McConnell’s court-packing and the right is worried about court-packing from the left (whether that’s rational or not, that’s what governing for all side is, you have to calm as many fears as possible, even the irrational ones). My suggestion is you go to Justices Thomas and Alito, who are both in their 70s and might want to enjoy the end of their lives instead of dropping dead waiting for another Republican president. Come up with a list of Libertarian/moderate justices who believe in abortion and LBGT rights but in limited government in all other things (those first two are about limited government as well so it would be looking for actually consistent justices) and work with them to find a pick they can agree that they will retire if you appoint that pick. This calms the left and the right, defends the most important right you care about, and restores faith in the Court for all sides.
Now let’s come to your goals. First and foremost you need to re-establish our place in the world. That means a heavy use of diplomacy, of not just reestablishing free trade but pushing it (rejoining TPP, ending the Jones Act, quickly getting a new trade agreement with the UK, rolling back all of Trump’s tariffs, and challenging China in the legal format of the WTO). Free trade is an absolute good, and it needs to be encouraged no matter how much the illiberal sides of both parties hate it. And while Trump has done a lot of stupid stuff, don’t compound the stupid by just reversing his idiocy—for instance moving the embassy to Jerusalem was silly, moving it back would be just as silly and petty. Don’t be petty. And while we need to re-establish our relationship with the world let’s not be groveling and begging forgiveness. The world wants the US to be the world cop and the stable one in the room they can all look to for support, that does not involve going around and groveling (like your former boss did). We can admit that Trump was wrong without acting like America is always in the wrong.
Next, you must establish limits on the Executive branch. You need to push for a Department of Internal Affairs that can investigate every president and every elected official and which is free from partisan politics. Presidents are not above the law and this needs to be made clear. A president who breaks the law needs to know that he or she can be arrested and hauled out of the Oval Office in handcuffs. If you don’t push for some kind of way to limit criminal behavior in the executive then you’ve missed what the mandate you were given was.
Further, you need to limit the capricious dictatorial power of the Presidency. A president who refuses to work with Congress and just says “I have a pen and a phone” and rules by fiat is not a president but a wannabe tyrant. This can no longer be tolerated from either side. You are the president, if Congress is being obstructionist, you have the bully pulpit and your job is to convince the people to push Congress to act. Now, part of this must be using that bully pulpit to push Congress to return power to committee created legislation and not just letting the House and Senate being the fiefdoms of the Speaker and Majority Leader respectively. I know full well this is a long-term project that you will not see the end of, but it has to start sometime, and the sooner the better.
In terms of economics, again: Free trade. You’re not going to bring manufacturing jobs back, because even if a company moved production back to the US it would be done by machines. But what you can do is open up more trade which will create more opportunities in new fields. I’m fine with more investment for vocational training and retraining but we are never returning to a 1950s manufacturing economy, and I have to hope your rhetoric on this point during the campaign was simply a pragmatic realization that right now you weren’t going to win without that voting bloc. But now act in that voting blocs best interest and bring them jobs for the future, not lying to them about bring back the past.
In terms of taxes. Don’t raise taxes. Just get rid of the myriad of stupid deductions that exist. You know all those loopholes that Trump uses to avoid taxes. Get rid of all of those. The smaller the tax code the better. And if the upper and upper-middle class can’t just deduct all their income then tax revenues will increase.
It goes without saying that immigration needs to be reformed. But it needs to be said again and again that there is no power given to Congress to regulate immigration. NONE. Any laws that try to limit immigration are unconstitutional along with evil and economically idiotic. ICE needs to be ended and the borders need to be opened.
The CIA needs to put anything they can into Putin’s water that will speed up his Parkinson’s.
Finally, there needs to be a return to a semblance of honesty, reality, and humility. Real daily press corp briefings, hold the White House Press Correspondents dinner and demand they do a full roast of you (I get there is a pandemic, but this is a norm that needs to be restored).
Of course, there is a plethora of other things that need to be dealt with, but let’s focus on these.
Now, Mr. President-Elect, you could be all talk, and like your former always willing to give into bitter partisanship, always foolishly throwing gas on a culture war fire, always only looking to play to the most infantile of your base…but I, and I think most of America, is hoping you’ll be better than that.