Trump must tem­per words as pres­i­dent

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - OPINION -

Words have mean­ing. And con­se­quences. Don­ald Trump — and in fact the na­tion — is learn­ing that the hard way.

Trump’s caus­tic, scorched Earth cam­paign clearly tar­geted a huge swath of dis­af­fected vot­ers that were tired of be­ing shunted aside by the me­dia, the elite and the in­sti­tu­tions that they once looked to for “in­clu­sion.”

But those same words that so en­deared Trump to those dis­af­fected had an other peo­ple as well. Let’s just say it was not a pos­i­tive, up­lift­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

Since Elec­tion Day, some of those other Amer­i­cans have made their thoughts plain as they con­tem­plate a Trump pres­i­dency.

They are scared, and rightly so based on the rhetoric Trump rou­tinely de­liv­ered on the cam­paign trail.

And they are an­gry, prob­a­bly just as an­gry as the down­trod­den who lifted Trump to the Oval Of­fice. They have rea­son to be. Yes, words have mean­ing. And con­se­quences.

The hate that Don­ald Trump spewed as he blazed a trail to the White House ig­nited sim­i­lar feel­ings in some Amer­i­cans.

It is the idea that hate can be em­bold­ened. And le­git­imized. And wielded by those who be­lieve their twisted re­al­ity has now been given the im­pri­matur of ac­cep­tance.

Now, in the wake of his stun­ning vic­tory, we’re be­gin­ning to see the ugly side of some of that in­flam­ma­tory Trump rhetoric.

Schools across the coun­try are deal­ing with a spike in racial ha­rass­ment.

Im­mi­grants are be­ing tar­geted. Notes are be­ing tucked into their bags urg­ing them to leave the coun­try.

At a Bucks County high school, racial mes­sages were scrawled on a bath­room wall.

At the Univer­sity of Penn­syl­va­nia, black mem­bers of the fresh­man class al­legedly were tar­geted with a racist mes­sage that sug­gested lynch­ing African-Amer­i­cans. Ugly stuff. At Vil­lanova, a black fe­male stu­dent claims she was ac­costed and knocked down by a group of white males chant­ing “Trump.” All this is part of the fall­out of the ugli­est po­lit­i­cal cam­paign in Amer­i­can his­tory.

To be fair, the anti-Trump mobs that have sprung up across many Amer­i­can cities have at­tacked in­no­cent peo­ple and done con­sid­er­able prop­erty dam­age while pro­mot­ing vi­o­lence against Trump sup­port­ers. This has to stop.

Trump vowed to “make Amer­ica great again.” But he also laid the ground­work to make Amer­ica hate again.

Don­ald Trump is no longer a can­di­date. His words did what they were in­tended to do. He rode a tidal wave of anger in ru­ral ar­eas and mid­dle-class Amer­ica to the most stun­ning up­set in Amer­i­can po­lit­i­cal his­tory.

But he can’t put the ge­nie back in the bot­tle. In­stead, he needs to of­fer more than an olive branch; he needs to of­fer an ex­pla­na­tion of all those in­sults he so ca­su­ally hurled at ev­ery tar­get who got in his way.

He is no longer can­di­date Trump. He is Pres­i­dent-elect Trump

He needs to own his past rhetoric. And set a new path go­ing for­ward.

He ap­peared ready to start that process in his in­ter­view with “60 Min­utes” Sun­day night, say­ing he was sad­dened by some of the ac­tions of those who sup­ported him.

He stared into the cam­era, and is­sued a sim­ple rec­om­men­da­tion to those who would take part in such con­duct: Stop it.

But he has to do more. (And it wouldn’t hurt if Pres­i­dent Obama and Hil­lary Clin­ton also urged their sup­port­ers to stop act­ing like hooli­gans.)

Peo­ple are scared. They heard the words he ut­tered dur­ing the cam­paign.

And they see the ac­tions of some of his em­bold­ened sup­port­ers in the wake of Tues­day’s vote. Words have mean­ing. Don­ald Trump is just start­ing to walk back some of the words he hurled dur­ing the cam­paign.

He no longer has a con­ve­nient en­emy to tar­get from his bully pul­pit, aside per­haps from the me­dia. Hil­lary Clin­ton is no longer the en­emy.

His prob­lem is he no longer has en­e­mies; he has con­stituents.

He is now the pres­i­den­t­elect.

He needs to act — and speak — like it.

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