Open letter to the president-elect
Congratulations. You won the election. Now what?
The palpable anxiety and dismay now widespread among the electorate will find no relief if what has come to be a perpetual campaign for political advantage blocks essential government functions between elections. Predictions and partisan threats of post-election obstruction and retribution abound.
Tens of millions of Americans question whether their government is legitimate and far too many buy into the idea that our political system favors the powerful few, while others believe our elections are rigged. It would be a dangerous mistake to ignore the growing numbers of good hard working people who feel that both parties have abandoned them.
Remember that our democratic republic is built upon the consent of the governed, the willingness of its people to follow the rule-book, our Constitution. Yet we are heading far too close to a precipitous failure of confidence in our system of democracy.
Once sworn in, lead us. Say you understand that people — many who did not vote for you — want and need change. Let us know you are optimistic because you believe in the basic intelligence, decency and spirit of the American people.
Stop bashing the government. Bad mouthing government breeds contempt and distrust at the precise moment when what you need is to ask for compromise and selflessness.
People care deeply about the economics of their daily life and you must explain how they will be able to afford good education and healthcare. Explain to people how they will afford retirement.
Break out of the outdated left-right and liberal-conservative boxes that stymie solutions to today’s problems. Lead a national conversation on immigration, for instance, and what it means to be an American with all the privileges we enjoy.
Encourage our men and women in blue to understand the frustrations of those in our nation whose collars are blue. Remind all of our citizens that law enforcement is necessary for the safety and security that progress demands.
Use your pulpit to teach three things:
■First, we need to work with others as a leader on the world stage to make progress on financial regulation, poverty, privacy and data security, climate change, energy, pandemics, terrorism and genocide.
■Second, teach how hard it is to oppose those around the world and within our borders who seek to destroy our way of life without becoming like them.
■Third, be the fact-checker-in-chief. The world is round, there was a black plague, slavery happened, the Holocaust was painfully real, and U.S. elections are not rigged.
And resist the temptation to engage in grandstanding on the basic work of nominations but instead, work in ways that recapture the willing support of the American people.
At the conclusion of the Constitutional Convention 229 years ago, Benjamin Franklin was asked what the Founding Fathers had created. He replied, “A republic, if you can keep it.”
Franklin’s observation resonates with us today as we recover from a corrosive election that took place against the backdrop of tumult and uncertainty throughout our country and abroad.
We need you to lead us forward and to help us to answer fundamental questions of what we mean by “We the People.”
Nicholas Allard is President and Joseph Crea Dean of Brooklyn Law School.