The Sunday Magazine

Dear president-elect: Please prove me wrong again

A letter to president-elect Donald Trump from Canadian political science professor and commentator Clifford Orwin
Clifford Orwin, Professor of Political Science, Classics, and Jewish Studies, University of Toronto (Farida Guechoud)

Clifford Orwin is a professor of Political Science, Classics, and Jewish Studies at the University of Toronto. Here is his letter to president-elect Donald Trump, commissioned by The Sunday Edition. 

Dear Mr. Trump.

Congratulations on your astounding victory. Hardly any of us here in Canada either foresaw or wished it.  As the record of my columns will confirm, I found little good to say about you. You seemed neither worthy of the Presidency nor capable of running the focused campaign required to win it. In the last few weeks you proved me wrong on the second score. Now try to prove me wrong on the first. I won't cry that the sky has fallen and the Apocalypse is at hand.

The American people have spoken and their verdict must be respected (just as I hope you would have graciously acquiesced had they decided against you.)

Your acceptance speech was conciliatory rather than vindictive; that's a baby step in the right direction. You promised to govern as President of all the people, even echoing Lincoln's plea to bind up the nation's wounds. That is indeed the massive task facing the next President. It's not one for which your supporters elected you or of which your opponents deem you capable. Once again you'll have to prove the doubters wrong. You can begin by dropping your threat to lock up the winner of last night's popular vote.  What you really want is to include some Democrats in your cabinet.

Of your tangible tasks the biggest will be to cope with a divided government. In part thanks to you, the Republicans managed to retain both the Senate and the House of Representatives, while you, a non-Republican, control the Presidency.  

As the primaries showed, even Republican voters had gotten so sick of Republicans that they turned elsewhere, namely to you. Perhaps with the aid of Speaker of the House Paul Ryan you will yet develop a passable impression of a Republican. Time will tell. Or will the party reinvent itself in your image? Some sort of conservative/populist coalition will dominate Washington politics for the next four years, but its likely shape remains murky.

Obamacare, deindustrialization, immigration, and the soaring long term deficit will pose its biggest challenges. None is unfamiliar to you, but nor have you elaborated credible policies for any of them.  Among possible nominees to the Supreme Court, consider the thoughtful and undogmatic Edward Mansfield of Iowa.

Your most urgent task is to relieve the bad case of jitters you've caused. Besides dropping plans to prosecute Clinton, begin by reminding Vladimir Putin that you're not his fanboy, and that both America's interests and her principles in Europe and the Middle East are strongly adverse to his. Assure all of America's allies that she will honor her commitments to them, and all her trading partners that you're not bent on a trade war. Because, Mr. Trump, while Congress can and will repeal the Affordable Care Act, no-one can repeal globalization.

So again my congratulations. You persuaded the majority of American voters that Hillary Clinton wasn't up to the challenge.  

It remains only to show them that you are.  

Your truly,

Clifford Orwin


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