December 17, 2018

A Trump miracle: Surprise America

Dear Mr. President-elect,

About 25 years ago, while filming a commercial with you for one of your casinos, you trusted me when I asked you to stick around for a few more takes. From what I hear, you really liked the finished product. Well, I’m asking you again to trust me and hear my thoughts.

Your presidency can go in two different directions — a disaster or a miracle. At my Shabbat table last Friday night, I had guests who voted for you and guests who voted for Hillary. To avoid a conversational food fight that would ruin the evening, I talked about miracles. I spoke about biblical miracles and personal ones. I wanted the guests to transcend, for a few hours at least, any divisive emotions. The theme of miracles, I reasoned, can apply to both sides: If you voted for Trump, you were grateful for a miracle, and if you didn’t, you prayed for one.

What would a miracle look like for your presidency?

First, you need a rallying cry. It’s wrong to assume that you should use the same rallying cry for governing that you used for campaigning. You’re in a different place now. “Make America Great Again” was ideal for dreaming and seduction. It brought you to the mountaintop. Now that you will run the country, you need something more specific, something that can guide your presidency.

How do you make America great? By making it work. So, here’s my suggestion for your governing slogan: “Let’s make America work.”

“Let’s” comes right out of your acceptance speech, when you said “it’s about us.”

“Surprise people who think you will be a divisive president who tolerates hatred. … Show that you will have zero tolerance for intolerance, whether it comes from the left or the right.”

Your speech, in fact, was all about bringing us together: “It’s time for America to bind the wounds of division … to all Republicans and Democrats and independents across this nation, I say it is time for us to come together as one united people. … I pledge to every citizen of our land that I will be president for all Americans.”

There’s no way you’ll be able to please everyone. No president can. But there’s one thing you can do that will improve your odds of becoming a popular and successful president: Surprise people.

Surprise people who think you will be a divisive president who tolerates hatred. When you see any of your supporters showing signs of racism, bigotry or anti-Semitism, take them on right away. Show that you will have zero tolerance for intolerance, whether it comes from the left or the right.

When you craft your policies, have empathy and use your common sense. Don’t throw out what works about Obamacare, or what works about trade deals, immigration reform, tax reform, education reform or foreign policy. In other words, don’t throw out anything that you think makes sense. Be fiscally responsible because it’s smart. Forget about abstract ideology or some of your outlandish campaign promises. You’re in power now. Do what most Americans will like or understand. Do what will work.

Speaking of what works, I have an idea for your first major initiative, one that will appeal to the great majority of Americans by putting millions of them back to work. It’s right there in your acceptance speech: “We are going to fix our inner cities and rebuild our highways, bridges, tunnels, airports, schools, hospitals. We’re going to rebuild our infrastructure, which will become, by the way, second to none. And we will put millions of our people to work as we rebuild it.”

That is a unifying and bipartisan program that Congress can get behind, and it’s the perfect embodiment of your new slogan: Let’s make America work.

Finally, become the “Disability President.” There are 56 million Americans who have a disability. Of those, about 22 million are of working age (18 to 64) who would love to work. Tragically, most of them are out of work and withering away. Make their plight your priority. Hire cabinet secretaries and others in your administration who have disabilities. Initiate new legislation to strengthen their rights and expand their opportunities. Have monthly events at the White House that promote their cause. 

In short, show that you want an America that works for all of America.

And one more thing: Don’t forget to light the Shabbat candles on Friday night. They help miracles happen. Believe me.

David Suissa is president of TRIBE Media Corp./Jewish Journal and can be reached at