To say that the pollsters and political insiders calling this year’s Presidential and Congressional races missed it (yet again) is to state the blindingly obvious. However, what is perhaps not quite so obvious is what this watershed election will mean for our nation in the months and years ahead, but I have a few thoughts about what we can reasonably expect—and a few ideas about what we truly need.
First off, this election was a stunning repudiation of the Obama legacy. President Obama wrapped his arms around Hillary Clinton and did everything in his power to put her in office—and failed. He did this to a great degree, I believe, because he knows much of his Presidency-by-Executive-Order can easily be reversed at the stroke of a pen, and it is certain that a great deal of his domestic and foreign policy agenda will be struck down the day that Donald Trump assumes office.
However, although bigots are certain to be found everywhere, I find the facile assertion that bigotry is the root cause of the rejection of Obama’s Presidency to be entirely unpersuasive because we elected—and re-elected—him by significant margins. The sad truth is somewhat simpler: All those soaring promises of hope and change turned into nothing more than an enormous transfer of our national wealth into the pockets of the super-rich, and the American people simply were not going to vote for yet more of the same from Wall Street’s candidate, Hillary Clinton.
Big Government as the monitor, manager, and—to a sometimes bizarre extent—the manipulator of our daily lives is also likely coming to an end. Given that the trend of governmental growth and oversight has continued nearly unabated for the adult lives of most Americans, what will replace it is anybody’s guess, but its failures are simply too obvious to any longer ignore and let continue. Given the $20 trillion Federal debt burden the next President and Congress will inherit, the intense budget realities we are facing will force a tremendous downsizing of the size and scope of government programs and spending. This will be a scary and disturbing transition for many who are comfortable with government controlling virtually every aspect of the daily lives of our families, communities, cities, and states—but change will come, nonetheless.
I appreciate the kind and conciliatory speeches that both President-Elect Trump and Hillary Clinton have given thus far, but I don’t expect we’re entering an era of good feelings—far from it, in fact. Hard and divisive battles are ahead regarding the futures of government programs, trade policy, military actions, healthcare, illegal immigration, and the Supreme Court. Donald Trump’s victory is a mandate, but the legislative wheels will still need to churn through the mud of a lot of entrenched special interests who are not going to surrender their cherished program, perk, or prerogative without a fight. The significant changes ahead will be cheered or jeered according to one’s political stripes, but to fail to alter our course at this critical juncture will condemn our nation to more years of frustration and stagnation.
However, regardless where one might stand on the election results, I believe there are three pressing domestic crises that demand the immediate attention of President Trump and the Republican Congress come January.
First, although Obamacare has been a signal policy disaster, the next President and Congress are still going to need to devise a method for helping all Americans afford quality healthcare. The long-term solution will need to be bold, and it will gore special interests across the board. However, I wonder if—as an interim solution—we can immediately move to a policy I have suggested in the past: no more healthcare exchanges, premium supports for private health insurance based on the participants adjusted income from the previous year to avoid the insanity of trying to “guess” what you will earn the following year, and a continuation of the prohibition of coverage denials based on health status—all this while empaneling a bi-partisan commission that will have 90 days to recommend policies to reduce the ridiculous price gouging that has become only more ludicrous over the past few years of “healthcare reform”.
We also need to conduct an A-Z review of our nation’s elementary and secondary schools—perhaps again on a 90 day deadline—to answer perhaps our longest festering domestic policy question: How do we transform our expensive and ineffective public schools into ones that provide quality educations at costs we can afford? To spend so much to produce a never-ending parade of illiterates is a national tragedy that is destroying lives more effectively than the most malignant cancers ever could, and strong action is needed to bring sense and accountability to systems that are now often renowned for nonsense and a complete lack of accountability.
Finally, we need to quickly reject the illusory benefits of open border trade agreements that have for decades shipped our breadwinner manufacturing jobs abroad and sent us back cheap tube socks in return. We can rebuild our industrial capacity and provide the secure and well-paying jobs they once provided for millions of hardworking Americans if we stop listening to Wall Street and instead hear the plaintive cries of a million Main Streets that have been shuttered and forgotten over the past 30 years.
Others may, of course, have their own lists of where we need to start in order to turn our nation around, but we at least now understand that an angry citizenry is sick of promises and demands change—right now. It will be our eternal shame if partisan bickering blocks the will of the people.