Editorial: New President Trump has work cut out for him

It’s a new day in America.

After eight years, Baruch Obama no longer sits in the Oval Office. Instead, we have President Donald Trump.

Their dissimilarities are so extreme that we won’t even devote time or space here to specify what most of them are, because it would require many pages.

What’s important right now is where we’re going under President Trump. As is always the case, with a new president, we don’t really know. How Trump’s bluster during the campaign season will translate into reality is a looming question for all of us.

A lot of that bluster has subjected Trump to intense criticism and professions of distrust, not just from those on the Left. Oregon Sen. Jeff Markley last week called Trump’s vision “cramped, self-serving, hateful.”

But his aggressiveness appealed to others, who liked the tough persona and confidence he evidenced, and many, frankly, didn’t really seem to care about the seemingly constant factual inaccuracies and gaffes.

There were those who simply voted for Trump because of deep distrust for Hillary Clinton.

But for many, particularly in rural America, the constant sense that the people in power were too smart to be bothered with the realities that we live with every day was a compelling reason to want change.

Whether the nation is latently as racist as liberals have charged, in the wake of Trump’s win, is hopefully not the case. We think, at least here in Sweet Home, support for Trump was based on a lot of other reasons.

We’ve heard a lot of analysts concede that middle-class, particularly white, Americans have felt increasingly disenfranchised and, frankly, it’s true.

Many small-town, self-employed people, who comprise a significant portion of the bedrock of Main Street America, have suffered under Obamacare and seen their net worth – those making under $75,000 a year, anyway, plummet over the large majority of Obama’s administration.

Many have seen America’s military, at least in their minds, deteriorate amid constant reports of the administration’s focus seemingly more fixed on improving sexual-orientation issues then much else, and cuts to personnel, spending and the nation’s arsenal.

Trump hasn’t behaved like a typical presidential candidate. That’s endeared him to many who are sick of politicians who seem to consider themselves somehow morally superior to those who hold to more traditional values and who appear more interested in partisan agendas than anything else. All this, while they take hard-earned money from those who are productive and dispense it to others who are not – but should be.

As the first true non-politician to transfer from the business world to the nation’s highest office, it will be imperative for President Trump to operate within the restraints of the law, Congress and the courts.

That’s an obvious fact, but it needs to be remembered.

The question now is what Mr. Trump will be able to do.

We hope he can employ whatever positive principles that have carried him to success in business, and successfully transfer them to policy that will indeed improve America’s trajectory.

Conversely, Obama had zero experience in the private sector in taking office, and his administration’s political philosophy and agenda, in many ways, reflected that. A National Journal study in 2009 found that only one in four of Obama’s senior Administration appointees had experience as business executives.

Here are some things we think need to happen in addition to what we’ve mentioned thus far:

The “divide” in America that we keep hearing about may be fanned by media coverage, but a lot of it is the result of people preoccupied with their own opinions and interests. It’s disturbing to see this conflict play out, particularly in selfish, angry demonstrations punctuated by broken windows, looting and shouts of “Dump Trump” and “He’s not my president!”

Coming from people who generally claim to despise Trump because he’s not trumpeting a message of peace, good will and benevolence they want to hear, well, this response is hypocritical, to put it mildly.

The fact is, civility has sunk to new lows – on both sides of the aisle, as demonstrated even in our recent letters to the editor.

The result of every election, by and large, is a reflection of where people’s minds, hearts, interests, etc. are at.

Much comment has been offered on the increasingly uncivil and dishonest communication and behavior that have increasingly tainted our public life.

Those problems are not ones leaders can just fix. Regulating morality can only go so far.

But President Trump can do his best, and we hope he does, to restore our economy, our place in the world theater, our self-defense capabilities, our work ethic – all the things that once made America great.

A key element of that process will be to find ways to make Americans productive, to fan the dying flames of our work ethic.

Ultimately, it’s going to take more than a president to make America great again. Any honest historian will tell us that decline is almost inevitable for every great nation or empire. It occurs as successive generations, living in prosperity, focus more and more on pleasure and self-satisfaction. Sound familiar?

Our work ethic, our civility, and with it our standing in the world and our prosperity are declining.

That doesn’t mean President Trump can’t enact policies that will put Americans back to work and possibly reverse some of the economic difficulties we’ve experienced. We really hope he does.

But unless Americans change, any improvements will be superficial and temporary, because our problems aren’t just outward.