Please Calm Down, People


It might be best for disappointed Democrats to dial down their distress. The daily street protests, Twitter flames, and Facebook meltdowns seem more than a little out of proportion to the facts of the matter: Your candidate lost and expected gains in Congress did not materialize. This is not the beginnings of an American Reich; it is what happens in a democracy when the votes are counted.

However, President-Elect Trump’s startling lack of specificity regarding his policy solutions to many of the problems facing our nation is causing understandable and reasonable anxiety, so it is worth taking a closer look at what we “know” so far regarding some of his plans for our country.

Those who worry about the ramifications of a crackdown on illegal immigrants—and who somehow manage to simultaneously forget that Barack Obama claims to have deported more people than any President in history—are quite correct that this will be difficult and unsettling. Most law enforcement actions are. Nonetheless, the alternative is to continue a de facto open border policy that serves the interests of the few at the expense of the many. Given that Trump wants to focus the initial enforcement efforts on those who have both entered the U.S. illegally and committed crimes while they are here, I’m unclear why anyone would find this policy so objectionable that they would take to the streets or gnash their teeth.

By the same token, it might be worth remembering that Trump is not proposing that we should all die painful deaths due to a lack of healthcare. He has already indicated that he is open to retaining some parts of Obamacare while ditching others in an effort to bring some fiscal rationality to a program that is imploding as premiums skyrocket and insurers flee. Indicating a willingness to roll up your sleeves and try to fix a program that is so fundamentally flawed that it is near to financial collapse only a handful of years after its initial passage is not a sign of heartlessness—it is a healthy engagement with dollars and cents reality.

Finally, now that the total non-military Federal workforce has risen to a record 1.4 million people during a time of unprecedented growth in annual budget deficits and total debt, it seems not at all unreasonable to evaluate who can be cut—and to let everyone know this is coming so that they will not be caught unaware. To do otherwise would be foolish. It will certainly be the case that some agencies will actually grow because there is a great need for the services they provide—while others will reduced or be eliminated. This analysis this would be an example of wise stewardship of limited resources that will allow us to push back against the tide of red ink that has engulfed Washington for many years. It will provoke howls of dismay from those who are comfortable with the unsustainable status quo, but I doubt it will lead to the Zombie Apocalypse. It may, in fact, make more Federal jobs more secure over the long haul by putting the nation’s financial affairs back in order.

Rather than immediately condemn and denigrate any and all policy proposals that are introduced in the months ahead, it might be better for all sides to cooperatively engage and be a part of the long-term solutions. New ideas about the roles and functions of national government might do our country and its citizens a world of good, and thoughtful and open-minded discussion of every point of view might be just what we so desperately need in order to clean up the many messes we now face. The time for self-righteous snark, name calling, and conspiratorial thinking is now gone. We need to calmly and clearly think about what we can do together to build a strong and vital America where everyone feels their voices are heard and their needs are being met.

I cannot—nor can anyone—foresee what the next four years will bring. I can, however, guarantee that nothing will be improved by those who insist upon stamping their feet until their non-negotiable demands are met.

Change is what is needed. Change is what we are getting. Give it a chance, people.

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