President elect Donald Trump has a chance to actually make America great and secure a lasting heroic role in history. Or he could could be remembered as just another fascistic glory-glut who does lasting damage before being deposed.
I have a lingering glimmer of hope he isn’t as bad as he’s been portrayed. He seems more pragmatic than ideological. He’s no King Ashoka (“he who is without sorrow and regards everyone with affection”) but he could be remembered as the surprise president who healed a divided society with creative, respectful inclusion.
My hope came from hearing he is considering South Carolina governor Nikki Haley for his Cabinet. If so, that shows magnanimity and wisdom on his part, for she was no cheering section for him during the primaries.
It took guts for her to speak out in not-so-coded language as Trump emboldened irate anger as a tactic. “During dangerous times,” she said, “it can be tempting to follow the siren call of the angriest voices. We must resist that temptation.” “I know what rhetoric can do,” she added poignantly, “I saw it happen.”
What she saw was a 22 year-old angry white racist, who hated blacks and liked to sport the Confederate flag, gun down nine innocent human beings in the AME Church in Charleston in 2015.
Within a year, Nikki Haley led a bi-partisan move to remove the Confederate flag from government property. She plainly said the flag was “hijacked by that murderer.” Risky talk in the heart of the South where the flag hadn’t meant racism so much as local-ism. “There’s a place for that flag,” she said, “it’s not in a place that represents all the people of South Carolina.”
Later, when she backed Rubio and obliquely criticized Trump, he tweeted, “The people of SC are embarrassed by Nikky Haley,” she immediately tweeted back, “Bless your heart.”
Ha! Maybe that’s what he needed. Maybe he’s lonely in his moneyed narcissism. Maybe he has more heart than we’ve yet seen.
Maybe he’s more independent, pragmatic, and visionary than we’ve seen so far. He could earn a favored place in history by bringing in the Asian Indian woman (raised Sikh, and of King Ashoka’s homeground) who dared stand up to him and the KKK. Otherwise, he appears to be inviting all the most rabid right-wingers into his unprepared transition team.
So, in support and hope for a success that includes all of us, I urge Mr. Trump to bring in Nikki Haley, at least. He could really include us all and begin to become a hero in history if he were to also bring in Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and James Hansen.
Is he really a transformative leader? Will he include and lead us all? Soon to rule all levels of federal and local government, he and the Republicans have a chance to show us what they’re made of. Will he and they be remembered with affection by future humanity? We’ll see.