Welcome to Washington, soon to be "Mr. President." I know you've been here before for a short time as senator, but this is different. This is The Big Time, the world stage and you are the leading man.
You campaigned on change and won the election. That was the easy part. Every new administration comes to town thinking it will be better than the one before it, more honest, more ethical, more competent. But people and events have a way of frustrating the loftiest goals. All of your good intentions notwithstanding, no one person can change a city built on a swamp, a city that has taken on many of a swamp's characteristics.
Even conservatives like me want you to succeed, so long as you don't pursue a strictly left-wing agenda. Would you like to disarm the social conservatives? Instead of signing an executive order that strikes down what few restrictions remain on abortion, start with your declared intention to make abortion rare. Ask for legislation that requires pregnant, abortion-minded women to receive full disclosure, including sonograms, so that their choice will be fully informed. Elevate the visibility of the pregnancy help centers around the country that quietly and without charge assist women before and after childbirth. They even help women who have chosen to have abortions. You will create a lot of goodwill among those who otherwise might oppose you.
Here's another suggestion: focus less on ideology and more on how people can become independent of government. For too long, your party has emphasized misery, failure and government dependency instead of success, fulfillment and self-sufficiency. By spotlighting people who move from dependence to independence, you model and encourage achievement.
Take the lead in inspiring African-American youth to stay in school, study hard, delay sex until marriage and build a family. You are a great example of what right decision-making can produce. You can help change the attitude among too many African-American teens that studying and getting good grades is "acting white." Set your people free and your place in history will be assured no matter what else you do.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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