Mourn or enjoy — but take a breath

As the first few days after the election pass, it’s become clearer to me how important going through the stages of grief is. And maybe, too, the stages of exaltation.

Many of my close friends, all smart men and women and Democrats, are in fear mode, understandably. Many of my close friends, all smart men and women and Republicans, are thrilled, understandably.

Some fear that close friends or family members will be deported. I understand the doubts that Candidate Trump has put in everyone’s minds. We face the unknown and it is scary.

Some think Trump is about to right all the wrongs committed in the last eight years and the country will be “great” again. Thinking that, though, likely will lead to disappointment.

The rumors of who President-elect Trump will name to his administration strike fear in non-Trump hearts. Gingrich, Giuliani, Bannon! And rightfully so. But I would shout: HE HASN’T NAMED ANYONE…YET.

Names get floated for various reasons, and not only from the transition office or the president-elect’s brain. Sometimes it’s to try to pressure the new president and sometimes it’s just to get some free publicity or legitimacy.

Will he name those folks? I have no idea. If he does, fear will be struck in my heart too. But I’m going to give him a few days while he makes up his mind and hope for the best.

Clearly, he gave little or no thought to these decisions before Tuesday. He was focused on not losing — and I use that phrase intentionally. He was focused on how now to lose the election but I think more importantly, on how to make it look like he didn’t lose but that outside forces intervened to rig the system against him.

I have thought all along that Donald Trump is a phony and a con man. I’m hoping now that I was right because it would probably mean much of what he said on the campaign even he didn’t believe and now he has to untangle himself from all that. Then again, for him, untangling isn’t hard — he just proclaims the opposite.

Friends, he will be our president. We need to accept that and try to figure out ways to make it work or make sure the Democrats in the Senate block his worst intentions, as they will. And likely they will be joined at some point by a few brave Republicans who still question if he can be an effective and fair president. (And in a way won’t that be ironic because it was the Democrats who said Republicans blocked President Obama at every turn. But the power given the minority in our system — intentionally — may protect them from Trump’s worst angels.)

Yes, a president has many things he or she can do on their own — much of the foreign policy, the power of executive orders (I don’t know who misused that power first, but shame on him) and some other things. But many will take legislation or budget authority and thus, the check and balance our founding fathers brilliantly constructed.

There are many checks in the system. Also, if the worst comes true and he begins to step on our rights as citizens, there are options the Congress has there, too. And, evidenced by the fact that weak Republicans sometimes endorsed him, sometimes not — there are more potential votes to protect us from the worst Trump could co.

My biggest concern was always the things he can do on his own and the foreign policy decisions a president can make that would endanger our country. My biggest concern remains there.

The protests across the country are understandable and, so far, mostly non-violent. I would hope the president-elect would speak out on those protests and not in the way he has Tweeted so far — how “not nice” the protests are. Peaceful protests are part of the American way. Emphasis on peaceful. I wish he would reach out rhetorically to those folks in a good way. I hope he does.

The partisans on both sides need to calm down. Enjoy your victory. Mourn your loss. But remember the sun will come up tomorrow and we need to be ready for that. I hope that someday we can blur these harsh partisan lines that divide us. They are ugly, on both sides.

Let’s at least give President-elect Trump a chance to catch his breath, absorb the reality of the huge responsibility he’s about to assume, and hope that his lack of core beliefs works to the country’s advantage.

Written by

Former deputy White House press secretary (Reagan and Bush 41) and former head of communications at Republican Natl Committee. My blog: bjaycooper.com.

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