It should be clear to all Americans by now that the presidential election will be close and that Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump will become the 45th commander-in-chief of the United States.
Nate Silver, who is the guru of presidential polling, wrote on Thursday that Clinton’s path to victory in the Electoral College had shrunk to the point that she could win the popular vote and lose the election.
Thus it would be best for supporters of both candidates to prepare for the worst and hope for the best. More than that, all voters should prepare themselves to accept the outcome of Tuesday’s balloting and rally around the winner.
For those on the losing side, defeat in such a bitterly contested election will be difficult to accept. But our democracy, with its set of checks and balances, will ensure that Barack Obama’s successor does not accelerate us into socialism or goose-step us into fascism.
Beyond the limits of power provided by the Constitution and embedded into the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government is the awesome responsibility of occupying the Oval Office. Yes, the burden of leadership is heavy. But it also can be uplifting. That’s because the president’s job is to represent all Americans. That alone is sufficient to inspire a president to exceed voter and media expectations.
We have criticized Trump many times – for his angry and ugly words, his scapegoating of immigrants, his refusal to release his tax returns, his ignorance of foreign affairs, his flip-flopping on issues, his daily misstatements of history and facts, and for his trickle-down economics plans.
But should he win Tuesday, he will be our president. Our hope is that he would realize the importance of the job ahead, reach out to all Americans and embark on a presidency that pays as much – or more – attention to the hopes and needs of the underserved and largely forgotten as it does to the whims and desires of the wealthy elites.
Should Clinton win and break the White House’s glass ceiling, she likely must deal with a Republican-controlled House of Representatives, tens of millions of voters who don’t trust her and millions more who will never trust her.
She need not concern herself with the Clinton conspiracy theorists or the alt-right. That would be a waste of energy. But she would have to work hard to win back the trust of the many reasonable people who believe that she endangered the nation’s security with her careless handling of emails. A President Clinton must also establish rigid barriers between the White House and the Clinton Foundation. We would suggest turning over the foundation to independent operators for the length of her presidency.
The list for Clinton doesn’t end there. She would have to foster cooperation with Congress. She could not simply stop communicating with House and Senate leaders, as Obama did, and resort to executive orders to move the country forward. We say this while acknowledging that Republican leaders, much to the detriment of our country, made stopping the Obama agenda their No. 1 priority. You could even argue that it was the GOP’s only priority.
Call us Pollyanna, but working together is the only way to accomplish the things that will benefit the most Americans. Regardless of Tuesday’s winner, the domestic agenda for the president and Congress should include fixing Obamacare, tax reform, ensuring the continued viability of Social Security and Medicare, reducing the cost to attend college and technical schools, recalibrating trade deals that have eroded American manufacturing, funding community policing, and addressing climate change in ways that encourage more technological innovation.
On foreign affairs, the U.S. must continue its efforts against Islamic terrorists and rogue nations, renew efforts to rein in the war-provoking ambitions of Putin’s Russia, keep a close watch on China and North Korea, and strengthen alliances with our longtime allies.
Ultimately, despite the big money in politics, and the proliferation of media and technology that allows many Americans to live in cultural echo chambers, voters determine the direction of government.
Let’s not forget that. We can complain. We can conjure up excuses. But it is we the people who elect the most powerful woman or man in the world.