By Chris Reid
The greatest danger to the American people is not an outside force, but internal conflict. Our country has always had diversity of opinions and differences, but we have generally had common values to which we all adhered. Our leaders may have sometimes disagreed on the solutions, but at the very least they worked to inspire people to believe in something greater than themselves. All around us we see people losing hope—not just in political parties, but in the great institutions this country has held dear. People are beginning to believe that they can’t achieve their dreams, so many have stopped trying.
Our politicians find short term success by promoting discord, so they continue to stoke the fire of discontentment. In 2016, Trump was able to achieve something that has not been achieved since the founding of our country—he won the White House without any political or military experience. Trump was able to connect with the frustration of the American people. He harnessed voter anger at the utter lack of leadership that has been shown in Washington. Unlike his predecessor, he didn’t come off as an elitist but as someone to whom the American people could relate.
Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, was the embodiment of everything people hate about politicians. She was elitist and arrogant, and her campaign was all about her and not about the people she was supposed to represent. Rather than telling American voters why they should elect her, she merely pointed out that her opponent was not qualified. Americans wanted someone with a vision, and Hillary never communicated a vision that could inspire the country. Trump did have a vision, and his powerful rhetoric appealed to voters disillusioned by the political system. He won against all odds, and in doing so he appeared to show the ability to lead despite overwhelming obstacles.
However, since the inauguration, the administration has been struggling to find a way to advance its agenda and Trump has not effectively cleaned house. Trump made some poor staffing choices at the beginning of his administration, and he has yet to effectively prosecute the people under him who are leaking classified information. Trump is also facing a media that is singularly committed to destroying him. A recent Harvard study showed that coverage of Trump was 93% negative on CNN and MSNBC. This is stunning considering that media coverage of Obama was 58% positive. To be fair, some of the negative coverage is due to Trump’s tendency to take to Twitter before giving his message any serious thought. He has also put his staff in a difficult position by not working with them on a unified messaging strategy.
Yet, even with Trump’s mistakes, only 7% positive media coverage is unwarranted. The economy is doing well and we have just hit a 16 year low on unemployment, but all the media is interested in talking about is Russia. The media reaction to Trump pulling out of the Paris deal was completely overblown. The Paris agreement is non-binding, and has no enforcement mechanism—as effective policy goes, it’s barely worth the paper it’s printed on. Additionally, China and India were allowed to increase their pollution for more than a decade, while the US was expected to lose trillions of dollars in compliance costs if they agreed to the Paris deal. The reality is that the agreement was never going to be adhered to. Trump simply withdrew because he didn’t want to bind the country to something that would be detrimental to the economy. Yet, the reaction from the media made it seem like he was guilty of murder.
I think everyone agrees that we need to pursue a national strategy which reduces pollutants because, despite the debate over climate change, we all agree that it is better to breath clean air and drink clean water. Thankfully, America has actually reduced its emissions 18% since 2000. With new technology and clean energy becoming more affordable, we will continue this trend regardless of a non-binding treaty. But the media failed to report this fact in its coverage of the Paris deal.
Trump no doubt faces headwinds and is mistreated by the media, but this doesn’t excuse him from stepping up and finding a way to be an effective and inspiring leader. Without strong action and a unifying message, his presidency will cripple and fade. I think the solution is for Trump to work with his staff and to be singularly focused on fixing the country’s economic problems. He needs to remain calm and not get distracted by the mainstream media’s attempt to bring him down. Trump should realize that some things aren’t worthy of a response, and if he is consistent in doing what he was elected to do, the American people will support him. Trump cannot succeed if he continues to make statements that aren’t thoroughly vetted. His speechwriters need to do a better job when it comes to fact checking, because he probably isn’t being intentionally being dishonest, but he has definitely been sloppy when it comes to getting his facts straight.
Most important, Trump must find a way to unify the GOP, and the only way he can do that is if he provides a powerful message that unites the factions within our party. He can’t keep blaming other Republicans for not supporting him—he must reach out to party leaders and prove to them that he is their President and that he is willing to work together to achieve success. If he can strike this balance of diplomacy and strength, the Party will unite behind him. Finally, I think that he needs to be more optimistic about the future. Though pointing out America’s flaws was an effective strategy during the election, the negative tone of his campaign should not be the tone of his administration. Trump’s strategy was to criticize the government, but now he IS the government. He no longer needs to convince American workers that they are ignored, but to prove to them that his administration is pursuing active policy change to support them.
Only time will tell if Trump is up to the challenge of rebutting the criticism of the media and the left. But, to his credit, he has shown that when the chips are down, he finds a way to succeed. He must be willing to apologize when he makes mistakes, and not have the attitude that he is never wrong. He may think that admitting his flaws would make him weak, but I think it would show great strength. If he can keep his pride in check and show humility by listening to the people around him, then I think he can do amazing things for the country.
In conclusion, I think that if Trump is willing to correct his course of action, he could be a great Republican leader, bringing the party together under an image of strength much like Ronald Reagan. However, if he doesn’t make changes very soon, the GOP could be facing dire straits in the 2018 midterms and beyond. I am an optimist by nature, and there are some amazing people in the administration who are capable of giving the President the counsel he needs, if he is just willing to listen.
About the author: Mr. Reid is general practice attorney in Birmingham, Alabama. He has worked for Republican leadership in the United States House of Representatives in Washington, D.C., and was a health policy advisor to the governor of Alabama. You can contact him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 205-913-7406. A description of his practice areas is available at www.reidlawalabama.com. If you have any legal issues, please complete the form at this link and Reid Law Firm will get back to you as soon as possible: https://www.reidlawalabama.com/contact-us.