‘Donald Trump is going to be our president,” his defeated Democrat opponent, Hillary Clinton, acknowledged on Wednesday. “We owe him an open mind and the chance to lead.”
Yes we do, even if that is a courtesy Mr. Trump would be unlikely to extend were the situation reversed. It is now on Americans, and on people around the world, to keep an open mind to the possibility that the president-elect is not the same person they’ve seen campaigning for the past 18 months.
That person – the pathological liar; the sexist who boasts of groping women; the authoritarian nativist who put a target on the backs of American Muslims and Latinos; the billionaire developer who gleefully screws small businesses; the vindictive pouter; the admirer of Russian strongmen; the mainstream tonic for the alt-right – was just a put-on for the purposes of campaigning, if we are to believe Mr. Trump’s admirers.
Will the office make the man? Because the American electorate chose him, the onus is on us to give him the chance to prove there might be more to him than his tweets, his hatreds and his dangerously erratic temperament. We owe this to his millions of electors, who after all played by democracy’s rules.
Mr. Trump’s acceptance speech proved that, at the very least, someone in his camp knows the right things to say. He praised his opponent and said America owes Ms. Clinton a debt of gratitude for her long service. He called on his countrymen “to bind the wounds of division” and vowed to be president “for all Americans.”
In the coming months, we will learn whether or not those were just placatory bromides inserted into his mouth by a speechwriter. Will he attempt to prosecute and jail Ms. Clinton and other political rivals, as he vowed he would? Will the Trump brand be his priority, or will America be? Will he and a Republican-controlled Congress, govern only for the well-to-do and the white, conservative majority that opened his path to the White House, or for all Americans, regardless of race and status?
It’s fair to say that the Donald Trump we know to this point will reveal himself quickly, if he is still in there. All it will take is one late-night tweet, one intemperate phone call to Fox News, for the jack-in-the-box to spring open. Yes, we have to keep an open mind. But no one should abandon their well-justified skepticism.Report Typo/Error
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