Suggestions for the
Incoming President
by Robert Winter

You’re now approaching the likely pinnacle of your life’s achievements.  What will you make of the opportunity?

I think it all depends on how much you can grow beyond who you are today.

I’ll admit, at first I had trouble understanding you.  Seeing your hair-trigger readiness to fight over even the smallest perceived slight, I assumed you were a little guy.  It was puzzling to learn that this kind of manner could be found in a tall man who’s also a good athlete.  But having since realized that I’ve actually known someone like you for quite a while, I believe I may have something useful to share with you.

First, an observation:

I believe you experience a kind of dissatisfaction or hollowness in your victories, because no matter what you achieve, there always seems to be some kind snickering going on about you.  You’ve been able to make a fair number of people fear you, and presumably lots of others fawn over you in hopes of getting something, but genuine respect seems to have remained a more elusive quarry.

My first piece of advice:  Don’t expect simply occupying the Oval Office to change this.  Not only is that unlikely to happen, but demanding respect based on the power of your position could end very badly—not only for you, but for large sections of the planet.  A wounded ego and nuclear launch codes don’t belong in the same room together.

I think you’ll have a whole lot more success if you face up to the hard truth that your outcomes are unlikely to change unless you change.  If you want to be a great man—which you appear to have a real hunger to do—then you’ll have to grow.

Fortunately, this is not an impossible challenge.

One simple way to begin earning a bit more respect is to just stop exaggerating so much.  For starters, stop calling your victory in the election a “landslide.”  No one denies that it was a stunning upset, and you can take a lot of legitimate satisfaction in that.  But when you go so far beyond the facts as to apply a term denoting a victory by an overwhelming margin to an election where you didn’t even win a simple majority of the votes, you’re pretty much asking for snickers.

Another way to grow in people’s estimation is to stop claiming that you already know everything about everything.  It’s absurd to suggest that you could (or anyone else could, for that matter).  Be more willing to listen and gather facts before you make a decision.

If you can do this, you may also begin to see how humility tends to boost real dignity, rather than diminish it.

Continuing on in the spirit of this realization, you could do a lot worse than to develop and follow a genuine commitment to something bigger than yourself.  I won’t presume to tell you exactly what this ought to be;  just make it something reasonable and not at gross variance with facts.

Whatever you do, though, please choose a more credible place to “take a stand” than appointing people to head up government agencies they actually want to destroy.  You haven’t been that kind of hard-right ideologue up to this point, so why start trying to pretend you’ve suddenly become a “true believer” now?  What’s really to be gained from diminishing or obliterating the Department of Energy or the Environmental Protection Agency, anyway?

Actually, there may a lot to be gained there—but not for America, just for you, personally.  By boosting your drawing power among the more extreme Tea Party types, you could make your fellow Republicans wary of ever challenging you, on anything.  With just one party controlling Washington, if even its leaders don’t feel they can stand up to you, you could wield an unprecented amount of power.

—But now, of course, we’re not talking about gaining respect by a commitment to something larger than yourself anymore.  We’re talking about stoking already-rampant speculation that you may have more in common with Mussolini than just an eerie number of shared mannerisms.

Even if your objectives aren’t quite so Machiavellian, among perceptive people, blatant self-aggrandizement at the expense of everybody else will only get you more jeers.  So why not make a point of promoting yourself in the more positive way of promoting policies that make a positive difference in people’s lives?

For example, you might well be on a promising track regarding a replacement for Obamacare.  It’s at least plausible that your negotiating skills could make a significant difference there.  You should consider giving that a sincere and sustained effort.  Take the trouble to acquaint yourself with the relevant facts, don’t let your ego run away with you, and you may be surprised how much people’s estimation of you improves.

Perhaps most important of all, though, please make sure you’re listening to the right people.  Pay attention to people who, instead of just pandering to your ego and the smaller aspects of your nature, intuitively recognize your need to grow, and can offer useful and specific guidance on ways to do this.  Prime case in point:  whoever influenced you to make the speech you gave immediately after your election.  Please listen to them.  A lot.

In fact, don’t just passively wait for them to offer this kind of input:  actively seek it out.

My hope for you—and for the country, under your administration—is that you’re hungry enough to become a genuinely great man that you’re willing to make the effort needed to actually become one.

It’s hard to imagine a better opportunity to do great and memorable things than while wielding the powers of the President of the United States.  Grow, and you could have generations of schoolchildren reciting your accomplishments and your name with reverent awe.

Refuse to grow, choose to see everything as revolving around yourself and your own personal wants and ego, and throw tantrums when people fail to show you respect you haven’t earned, and your prospects will dim considerably.  You could cause so much destruction that your only legacy will be as one of the most despised and reviled names in American history.

For your own sake—as well as all of ours—please choose wisely