I did not vote for Donald Trump, but the country needs him to be an effective and professional president. Here are ten things he can do to make his tenure a success and move the country forward.
- Reach out to Congress frequently and be bipartisan. No big ideas ever get implemented without the buy in of Congress. And big ideas don’t last long if they are purely partisan.
- Show empathy, particularly to people who are not rich and powerful.
- Remember that many of the voters who put you in office are small town and rural Americans, and folks who largely felt left out of the economy and political process. Make a special effort to regularly visit these areas and understand how your policies are effecting these communities.
- You are the nation’s top public servant, so remember that it’s not all about you. Like Groucho Marx said, “In politics, sincerity is everything. Once you can fake that, you’ve got it made.” Without being cynical, your authenticity and particular charm can go a long way to convince voters that you care about them.
- Watch your impulsiveness, particularly on Twitter. I happen to find your tweets refreshing in this media driven culture, but think first, as your tweets have global consequences. My predecessor at the Motion Picture Association of America, Jack Valenti, taught me a lesson on three most important words in the English language, “WAIT A MINUTE.” Great advice for presidents who must make important decisions.
- U.S. global leadership is critical not only to this country but to the global order. That means the U.S. has to lead on issues like diplomacy, global food security, disease prevention and more. President George W. Bush created PEPFAR and saved millions of people from dying of HIV/AIDS. You can produce a smart foreign policy that charts a new course but is responsible and sophisticated in the use of diplomacy, development and defense.
- You campaigned on, “draining the swamp” in Washington. Do so by getting control of money in politics and be a leader in cleaning up our campaign finance swamp. Americans hate how money infects our political system and you can build a lasting legacy by helping people trust their government again. This could be a “Nixon goes to China” issue for you.
- Produce a large infrastructure plan with bipartisan support that will actually put millions of people to work building or rebuilding roads and highways, bridges, water and sewer systems, electric and power grid, ports, airports and more. Make sure this effort is managed well. This could be another legacy achievement, especially if you work in a bipartisan way with Congress, and state and local officials and the private sector.
- Visit each cabinet department during your first six months in office. Let the folks working there know you expect excellence in management of programs but also make sure they know that the work they do is appreciated. Most federal workers do a good job but morale is low. You can get better results by making agency employees know that if they do a good job and are smart with taxpayer expenditures then you, and the American people, will respect them. This will pay dividends over and over again.
- Above all, listen. Listen to a broad and diverse group of Americans, particularly folks without political power. Like life, the presidency is a continual learning experience. To paraphrase my mother, “you have two ears and one mouth for a simple reason. The less you talk and the more you listen, the better a President you will be.”
Dan Glickman served as a U.S. Representative from Kansas from 1977 to 1995, and as U.S. Secretary of Agriculture from 1995 to 2001.