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Saturday, March 23 , 2019, 2:49 am | Fair 50º


Randy Alcorn: Donald Trump Has a Chance to Be Great, But Will He Take It?

Donald Trump surprised most of the world, including himself I suspect, by winning the presidential election.

Trump won the election courtesy of a dispensable anachronism, the Electoral College. The majority of Americans did not vote for Trump. Not only did he lose the popular vote by a significant number, but also more eligible voters did not vote at all, more than 90 million, than voted for Trump, 60 million.

So, the vast majority of American voters, more than 150 million, did not choose this guy to be their president — nevertheless, he is. The minority has spoken, and most of Western civilization hasn’t been this traumatized since Attila the Hun crossed the Roman border.

However, Trump has the opportunity to surprise the world again by becoming a truly great president. He is in a rather unique position to do so if he will govern more judiciously than he campaigned.

Because his campaign was not heavily financed by big special interests, nor embraced by the Republican Party establishment, many of whom vehemently repudiated him, he owes allegiance to neither the usual private nor political interests. As he said during his campaign, his only interest group is the American people.

While Republicans are giddy over Trump’s unlikely win and are now rushing to embrace him, he owes them nothing. He can and should maintain independence from their ideological agenda and select Cabinet members, advisers and judges based on their abilities and not their ideological credentials.

He could demonstrate that independence by re-nominating Judge Merrick Garland to fill the U.S. Supreme Court vacancy.

The GOP liked Garland for the Supreme Court until President Barack Obama nominated him. Then the ideologically addled, obstructionist, Senate Republicans suddenly found Garland unacceptable.

Now they hope that Trump will nominate another rightwing-nut jurist like the late Justice Antonin Scalia. But, if Trump wants to be the president of all Americans as he said in his victory speech, he would choose objective centrists to the court, not ideological trolls of any flavor.

While it is understandable that Trump, a true Washington outsider, would initially lean heavily on politically experienced Washington insiders to help him set up his administration, trying to drain the swamp using the alligators that have thrived in it is as likely to succeed as getting Mexico to pay for a wall along our southern border.

If Trump wants to become a truly great president who unifies the nation and implements rational, effective policies that benefit most Americans, he must consider various — sometimes mutually opposing — ideas and perspectives. No one person or party has all the best ideas.

But, so far Trump seems to be gathering up more nuts around him than a squirrel in September. His appointments of conservative cavemen Stephen Bannon as chief strategist and Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., as attorney general doesn’t bode well for diversity of thought in the Oval Office.

Vice President-elect Mike Pence seems like a reasonable guy, but he proudly proclaims that he is a devout Christian before he is anything else. Trump must be careful not to allow anyone’s religious based prejudices to be imposed on the nation. The United States is a secular republic, not a church.

The many brash and improbable campaign promises Trump boorishly made before the election are now staring him in the face. If his core supporters — the economically disenfranchised, frustrated working-class whites — are expecting him to wave his scepter and magically improve their prospects, they will be sorely disappointed.

If making America great again translates into returning to the post-World War II boom economy with plenty of manufacturing jobs requiring little or no higher education, there has been a tragic misinterpretation.

Even if Trump renegotiates or cancels trade agreements to force manufacturers back to the United States, those companies will not sacrifice profits by employing more costly American labor. They will turn to automation, which is far and away the greater cause of lost manufacturing jobs in the United States than is globalization.

Sorry, Rust Belt economic refugees, no matter what Trump promised you, those old-economy jobs are never coming back. A truly great President Trump would push for policies that provide affordable higher education for any American seeking it, and for vocational training to fill the many skilled blue-collar jobs available. Community colleges are a ready resource for implementing skill-training programs.

Revitalizing America’s infrastructure is critically needed and can boost the economy for awhile, but it should not contribute to the dangerously high national debt. Take the money from the chronically profligate defense budget. Trump has correctly criticized the cost of America’s policing the world. The United States spends more on defense than do most major nations combined. We have enough military muscle, we need improved infrastructure.

Illegal immigration was Trump’s banner issue. And while most illegal immigrants are not rapists or murderers, by breaking U.S. immigration laws, they are all criminals. The only thing broken about our immigration system is that its laws have not been sufficiently enforced. Contempt for immigration laws has reached an absurd level with sanctuary cities.

We have long ago ceased being a nation of immigrants, and we cannot accommodate the world’s millions of downtrodden who would love to be here. We are a nation of citizens within definite borders and with limited resources.

Trump is correct on illegal immigration. Deportation is a justified policy, amnesty is not. Amnesty has not been effective because it rewards violators. Without consequences there is no deterrence.

Trump should reconsider the science of man-made global climate change. If he backtracks on measures to reduce carbon emissions, doomed future generations will forever curse him and those Americans who elected him. Some legacy.

Trump has won the world’s greatest office — he is the ultimate winner. Now, if only he will surprise us, once again, by becoming a great president.

— Randy Alcorn is a Santa Barbara political observer. Contact him at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), or click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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