A Democrat's (very cautious) case for optimism in the Trump era
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I am bracing for a Trump presidency with a concern, mixed with ambivalence, and a healthy dose of cautious optimism. We live in the most magnificent country on earth, and Donald J. Trump is assuming an awe-inspiring office that will hopefully transform him for the better; perhaps, even inspire him to be a leader our country so rightly deserves.

I empathize with those still outraged by the election of an ostensibly unqualified, erratic president with the angst of an arriviste.


They have every right to be apprehensive, and perhaps, should be. I have a feeling of foreboding fill me whenever I think about a Trump presidency. I understand the authentic concerns of everyday Americans, and completely sympathize with them. I urge all Americans to voice their noteworthy concerns, by contacting their elected officials, and obviously, peaceful protest.


My mouth fell to the floor when Trump was elected president.

I assumed he had no chance to win, but no poll could detect the severe deficiencies in Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonHillicon Valley: Trump pushes to speed up 5G rollout | Judge hits Roger Stone with full gag order | Google ends forced arbitration | Advertisers leave YouTube after report on pedophile ring 4 ways Hillary looms over the 2020 race Hillary Clinton met with Biden, Klobuchar to talk 2020: report MORE’s lackluster candidacy for president and the broken hearts of voters, even previously loyal Democrats, so disenchanted by our political system.

Many made the case against the potentially debilitating impact of the Trump presidency. The media — such as yours truly — tried to raise awareness of his divisive personality. Some pointed to the potential erosion of our illustrious, longstanding constitutional values. Despite it all, this was simply met with a shrug by enthusiasts who were sick of politicians’ facile talking points, and empty rhetoric.

Trump was “real” after all, or so they said.

But, is he? Trump could be a pragmatist in ideological sheep’s clothing, and that is a reason to be guardedly optimistic, at least from a liberal standpoint.

He allegedly told the New York Times behind closed doors, he wouldn’t deport all undocumented immigrants. During the campaign, Trump soften his stance on a Muslim ban. After talking with President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein Obama4 ways Hillary looms over the 2020 race Obama goes viral after sporting black bomber jacket with '44' on sleeve at basketball game Obama attends UNC-Duke basketball game MORE, Trump moderated his once vehement criticism of the Affordable Care Act. His concrete wall became a fence, and just recently, Trump has signaled his willingness to maintain sanctions on Russia, but open to removing them.

As an American, I want to see my country thrive, and de facto, would like to see Trump be successful as a president. If Trump is prosperous, our country could be better off as well. When I say this, I make that statement with some caveats; a successfully presidency is uniting our country, protecting all Americans, and making it a better place for everything no matter their race, religion, or color.

This is the definition of a fruitful presidency, not merely measuring whether goals have been accomplished, regardless of their merits.

Despite his numerous flaws, controversies, and insecurities, Trump is our president, a president of all Americans whether we voted for him or not. When assuming the highest office of the land, Trump has the potential to lead our country towards a better tomorrow — as cliché as that sounds.

I hope Trump can take his preeminent role in the history books as a man who changed our country for the better. The president-elect is far from docile, which can be seen from his unconventional candidacy. We need a president who can combat the political gridlock, and bring succor to those left behind by our government.

Our country was built on a mix of optimism and realism. As Americans, we hope for the best, but plan for the worst. Trump will assume office, and as Americans, we must carefully offer him the benefit of the doubt — as hard as that can be.

Perhaps we were wrong about Trump all along? Perhaps he isn’t as terrible as he acts in public? Maybe a dreadful person can be an effective president? Possibly he will unite us more than ever? These elusive questions will be knocking at our hypothetical door soon enough or, conceivably, smashing through it with a battering ram.

Our constitutional Republic was designed to have checks, and balances.

If Trump is as abysmal, as he appears, we need to be ready to hold him accountable through political means, that is our duty as Americans. This is our country, and no one has the right to undermine the tenuous democracy we hold so precious.

That is why we, the American people, elected him, to make critical, expansive decisions that benefit all of us, and that is why we should pray he makes the right choice every day. For if he doesn’t, there will be hell to pay.

I know many Americans are scared, but we have to be united. We have our disagreements, but as Americans, we need to put the divisiveness aside to find real solutions to the problems that we face as a society. With time, maybe, just maybe, Trump could be a president a majority of Americans respect.

I hope my fellow Democrats will at least entertain that unlikely possibility.  

Matt Fecteau of Pawtucket, R.I., was a Democratic congressional candidate in 2014. He is a former White House national security intern and Iraq war veteran. Follow him on Twitter @MatthewFecteau.

The views of contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.