What Trump needs to do

Our view: The pres­i­dent-elect has a chance to heal our di­vi­sions and lead, but he needs to un­der­stand the depth of the chal­lenge he faces

Baltimore Sun - - NATION & WORLD -

Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump, who won not just by tak­ing ad­van­tage of di­vi­sions within the na­tion but by fan­ning them, said in declar­ing vic­tory that “it is time for us to come to­gether as one united peo­ple.” For mil­lions of Amer­i­cans who not only did not vote for him but who are anx­ious and even fright­ened at what the fu­ture may hold, that ex­hor­ta­tion may sound more omi­nous than hope­ful. Mr. Trump suc­ceeded by speak­ing to and for groups who felt for­got­ten and ig­nored, and that is to his credit. But in do­ing so, he painted a pic­ture of an Amer­ica in which many others worry that they have no place.

One of the great tra­di­tions of our democ­racy (al­beit one Mr. Trump thumbed his nose at dur­ing the cam­paign) is that af­ter an election, no mat­ter how hard fought, we rec­og­nize the will of the peo­ple, ap­plaud the vic­tor’s ac­com­plish­ment and give him or her the chance to start anew. Mr. Trump now gets that op­por­tu­nity, and in a gra­cious speech Wed­nes­day morn­ing, he sig­naled a de­sire to take ad­van­tage of it, even reach­ing out to those who op­posed him to ask for their help and guid­ance. We hope and ex­pect that his de­sire is sin­cere. But if he is to suc­ceed, he can­not merely as­sume those who sup­ported Hil­lary Clin­ton will fall in line. If he wants the coun­try to unify, he must be a uni­fier.

That starts with stat­ing un­equiv­o­cally that he will not, as he promised dur­ing the de­bates, ap­point a spe­cial prose­cu­tor to in­ves­ti­gate Ms. Clin­ton. Chants of “lock her up” have been a ubiq­ui­tous fea­ture at Mr. Trump’s ral­lies, in­clud­ing at his vic­tory party Tues­day night. Prose­cut­ing po­lit­i­cal op­po­nents is the stuff of tin­pot dic­ta­tors, not the leader of the free world. Mr. Trump spoke warmly about Ms. Clin­ton dur­ing his vic­tory speech early Wed­nes­day morn­ing, say­ing that we as a na­tion “owe her a ma­jor debt of grat­i­tude for her ser­vice to our coun­try.” That was good to hear, but he needs to make clear that he will ac­cept the FBI’s con­clu­sions about whether her use of a pri­vate email server amounted to a pros­e­cutable of­fense and that he will not usurp the na­tion’s law en­force­ment ap­pa­ra­tus as a tool for set­tling po­lit­i­cal scores.

Mr. Trump needs to re­nounce his talk of a “de­por­ta­tion force” to re­move the 11 mil­lion im­mi­grants who are in this coun­try il­le­gally. The idea of fed­eral agents round­ing up peo­ple who have, in many cases, been liv­ing, work­ing and rais­ing fam­i­lies in this na­tion for years and trans­port­ing them en masse to the bor­ders is sim­ply night­mar­ish. It would rip com­mu­ni­ties and fam­i­lies apart. He needs to ac­knowl­edge that build­ing a lit­eral, phys­i­cal wall along the bor­der with Mex­ico is lo­gis­ti­cally im­plau­si­ble, would likely be in­ef­fec­tive (given that many who are in the coun­try il­le­gally did not get her by cross­ing the bor­der) and would send a mes­sage that Amer­ica is re­treat­ing from en­gage­ment with the world. Can we and should we im­prove bor­der se­cu­rity and mech­a­nisms to make sure peo­ple don’t over­stay their visas? Ab­so­lutely. But it must be done in a way that is hu­mane and rec­og­nizes the need to pro­vide some com­pre­hen­sive fix to our immigration sys­tem.

Mr. Trump needs to as­sure the pub­lic that he will not in­sti­tute a re­li­gious test or loy­alty oath for those who en­ter the coun­try. He needs to drop plans for blan­ket sur­veil­lance of mosques, and he needs to ac­knowl­edge, as for­mer Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush did, that Is­lam is a re­li­gion of peace that has been per­verted by a small sub­set of its pur­ported ad­her­ents to mur­der­ous ends. If Mr. Trump does not have con­fi­dence in our cur­rent screen­ing pro­ce­dures for refugees from war-torn Syria, he needs to ex­plain their short­com­ings and pro­vide a plan to ad­dress them rather than be­smirch­ing tens of thou­sands of in­no­cent peo­ple dis­placed from their homes by call­ing them ISIS plants. He should dis­cuss refugee pol­icy with Cana­dian Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau, whose na­tion has wel­comed far more Syr­ian refugees than the much more pop­u­lous United States.

Mr. Trump needs to an­nounce that he will not pur­sue lit­i­ga­tion against women who have come for­ward to ac­cuse him of un­wanted sex­ual ad­vances and con­tact. He needs to stop call­ing his recorded brag­ging about sex­u­ally as­sault­ing women “locker room talk.” He needs to watch the speech first lady Michelle Obama gave in New Hamp­shire af­ter the “Ac­cess Hol­ly­wood” tape was re­leased in which she pas­sion­ately urged the au­di­ence to re­ject Mr. Trump’s “hurt­ful, hate­ful lan­guage about women.” The mes­sage he needs to get is not just that what he said was “dis­grace­ful” but that what he says and does as pres­i­dent mat­ters. It sets an ex­am­ple for men, women, boys and girls about not only what is ac­cept­able but what is hon­or­able, praise­wor­thy and cel­e­brated.

Mr. Trump needs to spend some time in the in­ner cities he de­scribes as hellscapes. He needs to hear from the peo­ple who would be af­fected by the kind of mas­sive ur­ban re­newal he has de­scribed in only the vaguest terms. He needs to rec­og­nize that his talk about the Se­cond Amend­ment sounds very dif­fer­ent in ur­ban cen­ters than it does in the ru­ral coun­ties that de­liv­ered his mar­gin of vic­tory. The pres­i­dent-elect needs to sit down with lead­ers of the Black Lives Mat­ter move­ment to find out what they hear when he makes grim prom­ises to re­store “law and or­der.” He needs to rec­og­nize the legacy of state-sanc­tioned Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump said in his vic­tory speech that he wants to unify the na­tion af­ter a hard-fought cam­paign. vi­o­lence against mi­nori­ties and the per­va­sive and con­tin­ued vi­o­la­tions of civil rights po­lice have com­mit­ted against African-Amer­i­cans in par­tic­u­lar. Mr. Trump must make clear that his Jus­tice Depart­ment will fol­low through on ef­forts at re­form in places like Bal­ti­more and Fer­gu­son, Mo.

Mr. Trump needs to un­equiv­o­cally apol­o­gize for his role in stok­ing the vile and racist “birther” lie against Pres­i­dent Barack Obama.

Mr. Trump must an­nounce his plans for di­vest­ing him­self from his fi­nan­cial in­ter­ests in the Trump Or­ga­ni­za­tion, and he needs to im­me­di­ately re­lease his full tax re­turns. The Amer­i­can pub­lic needs to have con­fi­dence that his ac­tions as pres­i­dent will not be de­signed to en­rich him­self or his fam­ily, or to re­ward busi­ness as­so­ciates.

Mr. Trump needs to rec­og­nize that his praise of dic­ta­tors and strong­men like Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin, his en­dorse­ment of tor­ture, his ca­sual ac­cep­tance of nu­clear pro­lif­er­a­tion and his wa­ver­ing about his com­mit­ment to Amer­ica’s bedrock al­liances leave many to worry that he will make a dan­ger­ous world even more fright­en­ing.

Mr. Trump must re­al­ize that two-thirds of Amer­i­cans are wor­ried about global warm­ing, and the rate of alarm is in­creas­ing. Ex­treme weather, ris­ing sea lev­els and record-set­ting heat in year af­ter year are all there for peo­ple to see. For the pres­i­dent-elect to de­ride cli­mate change as a hoax is to dis­miss the le­git­i­mate fears mil­lions hold for the world they will leave to their chil­dren and grand­chil­dren.

Mr. Trump needs to ac­knowl­edge that he was not just op­posed in this election by “the elites” or the me­dia. As of this writ­ing, he stands slightly be­hind Ms. Clin­ton in the pop­u­lar vote. She re­ceived the sup­port of nearly 60 mil­lion peo­ple, and they aren’t all ivory tower lib­er­als cos­seted away from the prob­lems of real Amer­ica. Her coali­tion in­cluded mil­lions who are strug­gling just as much as those who turned out in droves to sup­port him. It in­cludes peo­ple who have been dis­en­fran­chised — not just in the dis­tant past but this very year as mem­bers of Mr. Trump’s party sought to limit ac­cess to the bal­lot box in state af­ter state.

Mr. Trump needs to demon­strate his un­der­stand­ing of the role of a free press in safe­guard­ing our democ­racy. He must drop his threats to sue news or­ga­ni­za­tions who have pub­lished ma­te­rial he dis­likes, and he must re­nounce his plans to broaden li­bel laws to, in his words, al­low “us to sue ... and win lots of money.” He needs to re­nounce his sup­port­ers who have en­gaged in cam­paigns of in­tim­i­da­tion against jour­nal­ists, some of it vir­u­lently anti-Semitic in na­ture.

In her con­ces­sion speech, Ms. Clin­ton pulled no punches — as any­one who has watched her through two pres­i­den­tial cam­paigns might have ex­pected. But even as she en­cour­aged her sup­port­ers to con­tinue the fight for the is­sues they be­lieve in, she noted that the peace­ful tran­si­tion of power is not just some­thing we re­spect, “we cher­ish it.” She said her sup­port­ers “owe him an open mind and the op­por­tu­nity to lead.” Mr. Obama pledged his full co­op­er­a­tion and that of his staff to en­sure a smooth tran­si­tion, adding, “We are now all root­ing for his suc­cess in lead­ing and unit­ing this coun­try.” In­deed, we are. But we also need Mr. Trump to un­der­stand the depth of the chal­lenge he faces. The ex­tra­or­di­nary na­ture of this cam­paign makes the task of forg­ing unity more dif­fi­cult and also more nec­es­sary. We all must hope and pray that he suc­ceeds.

JIM WAT­SON/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

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