Las Vegas Sun

July 21, 2017

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Where I Stand:

Hope and a prayer for our new president

Hope and change, 2017.

Congratulations to our new president, Donald Trump.

And congratulations to the United States of America. We have successfully and peacefully transferred power, just as this country has done ever since President George Washington handed over the reins of government to John Adams in 1797.

It is our ability to cede the power of the presidency from one person to another every four or eight years — without guns or bloodshed, and with proper respect for our Constitution — that distinguishes the United States from almost every other country on Earth.

And, yes, we did it once again Friday even though there were times when “going on without a hitch” seemed more like a pipe dream than the American dream.

While listening to President Trump’s inaugural address, I was immediately reminded of Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt’s prior introduction during which he quoted memorable lines from former presidents: Lincoln’s “with malice toward none, with charity for all.” Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s “we have nothing to fear but fear itself …” And John F. Kennedy’s “ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country.”

I may have missed it but there was nothing in President Trump’s address that I would say was memorable. Some of what he did say was encouraging — he is going to rebuild our highways, crumbling bridges and dangerous tunnels, and build new railroads and airports, which are so badly needed. And he continued his populist campaign theme claiming Washington and its denizens were to blame for the ills of the country, words designed to make Washington Democrats and Republicans very uncomfortable.

He also made me uncomfortable and, perhaps, some of his major donors who were sitting front and center at the inauguration when he insisted to the entire world that from now on it was “America First.” This wasn’t the first time we have heard these words because his campaign was replete with the reference.

For those who were there at the time or any students of history, it is also not the first time those words were used. For it was the Nazi sympathizers in the United States prior to World War II who used “America First” as a rallying cry to keep the United States out of the war even when they knew Jews throughout Europe were being slaughtered by Adolf Hitler.

But, I digress. Friday was about President Trump — and our country, too. He promised change and action and immediacy.

And voila, a much needed hearing on a voting rights case in Texas — where the government charged Texas with intentionally discriminating against Latinos and African-Americans — was postponed just hours after he took his oath. References to climate change on the White House website as an important issue have been removed, as have LGBT rights and health care. And it is only Sunday.

Yes, elections have consequences and we are already seeing them. Soon we will be feeling them. He promised change and it is happening as we speak.

To be clear, not all change is bad. We live in the United States. This is the place where good ideas sometimes can grow into bad ones and need to be pared back. Change can also be sad. What are we going to do without the circus? And change can be bad. Heaven knows we have plenty of examples of that, too.

Speaking of heaven, President Trump invoked “the creator” a couple of times in his speech, which is a couple of times more than I heard him do so on the campaign trail. It did not go unnoticed nor should it have.

In 2009, incoming President Barack Obama talked eloquently about hope and change. He based his campaign on that theme.

Friday he exited the public stage with a sky-high approval rating from grateful Americans because he gave us some hope and helped us change. Whether you agreed with his politics or not, every American must admit that he and his family led our country with a style and grace that captivated and inspired the entire world. Well, most of it. Vladimir Putin probably wasn’t impressed.

Today, President Trump is moving forward on what he says he promised America. I wish him success as our president because to wish for failure is un-American. We have had enough of that kind of thinking these past eight years from President Trump’s colleagues!

Many years ago my mother told me that hope was not a strategy. And I believed her. She was right.

Today, however, all I can do is hope that President Trump can change sufficiently to be the president of all Americans, especially the ones who are scared to death because of what he has already promised.

And since hope is not a good strategy, I will have to invoke the same deity as did the president in his address.

I hope the man can change just enough to be a good president. Amen.

Brian Greenspun is editor, publisher and owner of the Sun.

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