Can President-elect Trump bind the wounds of division?

Steve Corbin

America’s most contentious, cantankerous and vitriolic presidential election has finally ended. Hallelujah.

Post-election research, replete the way Americans felt on the morning of Nov. 9, was as dark and foreboding as the day after the 1860 election (i.e., four-way race between Abraham Lincoln, Stephen Douglas, John Bell and John Breckinridge) when American’s spirit was divided into the North versus the South.

n Many unreasonable, childish and self-centered citizens will be unable to forget Hillary and Donald’s platitudes, faux pas moments and insults. Mature voters know NOW is the time to put assertions aside and act like responsible adults.

In Donald J. Trump’s election night acceptance speech, he said, “it is time to bind the wounds of division.” Let’s start with Congress.

Democrats remember Sen. Mitch McConnell’s (Rep.-Kentucky) edict on the evening of Barack Obama’s 2009 inauguration to make Obama a one-term president by obstructing his agenda. This blatant divisiveness lasted, at the public’s expense, for eight long years. Democrats must not emulate McConnell’s immature act of obstructionism with President-elect Trump.

We must recognize Congress, and NOT the president, initiates and passes laws and budget appropriations before a president can approve or veto legislation and authorize expenditures. So, has the root of America’s problem of being in a slow-to-no growth pattern for the past seven or eight years resided with president Obama or Congress? Political historians will most likely suggest the preponderance of guilt lies with Congress.

To “bind the wounds of division,” I propose that every Iowa registered voter contact Senators Grassley and Ernst and Representatives Blum, King, Loebsack and Young and insist they work during the 115th (2017-2019) and 116th (2019-2021) Congress with Trump and their across-the-aisle counterparts in the spirit of cooperation, bipartisanship, decency and respect.

n There is only one win-win resolve for Trump: as an experienced negotiator, he must frequently meet with Democrat leaders to determine where there are areas of agreement, convince Republicans to cooperate with their across-the-aisle peers on these topics and relentlessly keep on meeting to iron out compromise where differences exist. Perseverance with patience and empathy will be Donald’s ally.

Now, on the other hand, should Trump pursue a one-sided partisan agenda, that will only enhance the current gridlock and status quo will be a certainty for four more years.

Trump already has a golden opportunity to work with over 80 Democrats and Republicans in Congress who have signed onto House Resolution 207 and Senate Resolution 199. These identical bipartisan initiatives call for the creation of a National Strategic Agenda focused on four goals: 1) balance the federal budget by 2030, 2) secure Social Security and Medicare funding for the next 75 years, 3) make American energy-secure by 2024 and 4) create 25 million net new jobs over the next 10 years.

n Probably very few Americans realize Donald Trump pledged to support the National Strategic Agenda; his opponent, Hillary Clinton, did not endorse the concept.

Congressional leaders have already said they are on board to tackle five other significant economic issues with the new president: individual tax reform, corporate tax reform, criminal justice reform, regulatory reform and immigration reform.

And, interest rates are in Trump’s favor. The cost to service the interest and principal on the national debt has fallen to its lowest level in 50 years. Low interest rates give Trump and Congress an opportunity to boost infrastructure, education, workforce development and entrepreneurship.

With our 535 elected representatives earnestly cooperating and actually working-across-the-aisle, Trump’s legacy as the 45th president could go down as the Era of Bipartisan Compromise. Please join me in holding Sen. Grassley, Sen. Ernst, Rep. Blum, Rep. Loebsack, Rep. Young and Rep. King accountable for bipartisanship behavior and let’s pledge to “kick the bums out” should they behave in an unreasonable, childish, self-centered and obstructionist manner.


Steve Corbin is professor emeritus at the University of Northern Iowa and a graduate of Nevada High School.