Dear friends posting social media screeds against Trump,
This is my challenge to channel your anger, energy and intelligence into constructive actions that will actually make a difference.
I understand that the election of Donald Trump represents a nightmare, and we’re trying to wake up from it.
But angry posts, signs, and marches are the wrong way to go about this. “Not my president” slogans don’t make him any less our president. And if you insist on marching in protest, you better have voted in the election. I voted, and I’m 6,000 miles away. If you didn’t vote, run back inside your house.
Once you’re there, do your penance, starting with a solemn pledge to never skip voting in an election, any election, ever again. You know who you are. Trump won the white women vote. There are several explanations for that, but the most obvious one, according to Occam’s razor, is likely the right one — not enough women voted.
Then join the rest of the disaffected, angry and insulted masses and do something about it: Stop paying such close attention and expressing righteous outrage over what Trump is doing and saying day by day. There’s nothing we can do about it, and his antics are his way of distracting people from real issues.
Instead, start working toward the day he’s out, whether that’s in six months or four years. Work to coordinate a series of think tanks, which already exist — each to draw up policies on specific issues that will appeal to disaffected voters from the center who voted for Trump for various irrelevant reasons and will soon realize that he isn’t the answer.
We must understand that a Bernie Sanders-type approach will lead to defeat again, even if we like his ideas. That appeals only to the elite left, which might include us, but this is politics, and we have to recapture the center.
The oversensitive PC, safe space and intersectional crowd will have to take a seat. They alienate the center. Hillary’s biggest campaign mistake was trying to co-opt Sanders instead of rejecting him.
So here are some ideas that can be worked into policies with wide appeal, and which would not be so bad for the rest of us, either:
Universal health care based on Medicare’s single payer framework with revisions to cut costs: The right to bargain with pharmaceutical companies for discount prices (should be a no-brainer). A class of public service doctors on salaries instead of commissions from unnecessary tests. Protection for doctors from malpractice suits except in egregious cases. Public hospitals run on effective treatments and not profit. We were about to have 24 million people who would vote for a well thought out medical reform package after Trump axed their insurance. He was saved by his own party, but that’s small comfort — people are still worried about health care, as well they should be. Obamacare was a minor health insurance reform — we need real health care reform. There are many examples of how this works in the real world — Israel, Canada, and France to start with.
Education reform that channels public funding into schools that need it the most, the ones in the inner cities. Let’s make them the best schools, and then if the rich still want to send their kids to private schools, let ‘em. Then there’s university reform, restructuring the fee scales with public support to end the travesty of gigantic student loans. We need their education as much as they do.
Tax reform to even the burden and actually raise taxes where necessary. Compared to the rest of the developed world, Americans pay relatively low tax rates, especially on fuel. If it’s part of a package that raises taxes significantly on those who can afford to pay, then other segments might well agree to a hike in gasoline taxes, for example, to pay for restoring crumbling infrastructure.
And most important, find a leader who believes in this approach and can sell it to the people. Obama’s greatest failure, and his most unexpected, was his inability to persuade the people that his policies were correct. He accomplished a considerable amount despite Republican obstructionism, yet his critics were able to successfully paint him as a failed president. That must never happen again.
Are there other things we can do, of course. How do we get supermarkets with fresh produce into inner cities? How do we get people out of prisons and back into productive lives? How do we restore goodwill toward the U.S. among the peoples of the Mideast?
I left the U.S. nearly half a century ago, after the ‘60s, because I felt the country had the resources to solve its problems — but not the will.
Take up my challenge. Don’t prove me right again.
Journalist Mark Lavie has been covering the Mideast for major news outlets since 1972. His book, “Broken Spring: An American-Israeli Reporter’s Close-up View Of How Egyptians Lost Their Struggle For Freedom”, explains the failure of the Arab revolution. This is the first time he has ever expressed his political views in public.