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Thursday, November 17, 2016

 11:11 AM 

Wendy Riemann column: Advantageous Advocacy: Faith, hope, love and Trump

Eight years ago, I teared up on Election Night.  I had quit my job, moved to Iowa – where I knew no one – to spend five months living out of a cheap hotel room and working 18 hour days campaigning for John McCain to be the next president … and then we lost.

I did not understand how America could elect an inexperienced community organizer who, in my eyes, was a talented speaker lacking substance, over a wise, experienced war hero, to be the leader of the free world.  But, the people had spoken.  Democracy worked.  I turned off the news, took a breath and packed my office.

Life always provides winners and losers, and I had lost.  However, I knew the sun would still rise, and that even after campaigning against President-elect Barack Obama because he terrified me, I knew I was beyond privileged to live in the United States – the truest, most elite one percent.

Fast forward eight years, and in irony of all irony’s, on Election Day, I thought, “maybe Obama is not so bad.”  I did not agree with him on almost anything besides a March Madness bracket – but he seemed okay and a good dad.  However, democracy propels us forward.

The pendulum swung hard from “change we can believe in” to change.  Despite the most untraditional campaign, lack of political experience and an unapologizing biased media, people voted for now President-elect Donald Trump.

In the days since, I have read and heard countless comments aimed at Trump and Republicans and Democrats, that are far worse than anything Trump has said.  How does this make us any better?  He started it?  That is the example of civility we set for our children?  Hate – one.  Forgiveness – zero?
Yes, there are bad eggs on both sides who are using this election to act in horrible ways.  But that is exactly what they are – bad eggs.  (Trump was a registered Democrat from August 2001 to September 2009).

The majority of Trump supporters are no more racist and sexist than Hillary Clinton supporters are entitled and whiny losers.

Rather than spewing hate, labeling, or typecasting someone for their vote, we should concede that not all voters liked the choices and remember this in future elections.  For many, it was despite the candidate’s positions, not because of them: what was “less evil” based on personal ideology.  It was not as much racism as resentment – a resentment that grew into a Trump movement as the participation-ribbon, safe-space, no-feelings-left-behind political correctness bubble appeared to be permanently ballooning out of control.

Personally, I have worked in Washington politics for a decade and have experienced the “boys club” firsthand on numerous occasions.  I feared Washington moving backward.  I also know Republican women in the military who feared Clinton, because after Benghazi, she could not be trusted to have their back.

We all voted the way we thought best.  I accept Trump won, and I support him for four main reasons.
First, “We owe him an open mind and the chance to lead,” as Clinton compellingly said in her concession speech.  Painful words to utter, yet true.  Campaigning is over and the reset button must be pressed.  No one is perfect, and few of us would like our life scrutinized like a presidential candidate.  In opening my mind, I acknowledged that Trump had a (pretty amazing) female in the top job – something many male leaders would never do.  His eldest daughter is clearly a strong, capable business woman.  This gives me faith.

Second, Trump said a lot of things on the campaign trail, but many will prove as likely as the numerous celebrities who said they would leave the country if he won.  Now that we have struck both sides of the pendulum, perhaps it will not be much longer before we return to the middle, stop tip-toeing around issues and hold honest discussions.  I have hope.

Third, Trump is the president-elect.  Come January 20th, 2017, he is the pilot of Plane America.  We all soar to new heights or crash and burn with him in the cockpit.  I want America to soar.  Before turning my back or passing harsh judgment on him as a person, I will let Trump take office and watch his actions that first 100 days.  When I do not agree, or I witness injustice, I am not going to light cars on fire, or punch people, nor will I wait four years for another election.  I will channel that emotion into having my voice be heard in a constructive way and speaking up for those who cannot.  Love of country.

If you recall, when Obama took office, many thought he oozed arrogance and an ego.  He also had darker hair.  The greatness of the office humbled him… and aged him.  Trump is clearly already recognizing the HUGGEEENESS of this position, and we should allow him the same moment we would want to truly begin to process the weight being placed on our shoulders.  I prefer my glass half-full and do believe he wants to do well by America.  Vice President-elect Mike Pence most certainly does.

Finally, let us not blame all our anger and the world’s problems on one person most of us have never met.  As the former First Lady Barbara Bush said, “Your success as a family…our success as a nation… depends not on what happens inside the White House, but on what happens inside your house.”

Decisions we make start with us.  Actions we take start with us.  In our house.  Not every four years, but every single day.  In all our words.  All our actions.  Our compassion for others.  No elected official, regardless of title, can instantly make our culture in America better – only we can do that by actively living faith, hope and love among each other every day.

-- Riemann is president of 1492 Communications, a consulting firm. Like 1492 Communications on Facebook to learn more.

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