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Ten Lessons for the Next President

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

Regardless of who wins the election in November, here are 10 things that I think he or she should keep in mind:

--The old media rules do not apply.

Do we still have to emphasize this in an era of smartphones, Facebook and Twitter? You do not control the media, and the media does not control the message. Oh, I know that the Obama administration has made media manipulation an art form -- and that the media has been more than happy to comply. But everyone is the media now. We found out about Hillary Clinton's pneumonia because of a man named Zdenek Gazda, who caught her now-infamous collapse on his cellphone. The days of a compliant press covering for FDR or JFK are over.


--The public no longer believes the media.

And while we're on the subject: A big part of why Donald Trump is the Republican nominee is because the public no longer trusts the press. A popular comment after the primaries was that Donald Trump got millions of dollars in free press coverage. Yes, but what no one talked about was the fact that most of that coverage was negative. So why didn't that hurt him? Because for millions of Americans, being criticized by a corrupt press is a badge of honor. The more the "mainstream media" criticized Trump, the better he did. And they apparently never learn -- just this week, CBS selectively edited an interview with Bill Clinton in which he admitted that Hillary Clinton had "frequently" fainted.

--Stop pitting Americans against one another.

This has been going on forever. But it is deeply damaging, and it needs to stop. Mitt Romney had his "47 percent" remark, and Hillary Clinton just put her foot in it by characterizing millions of Americans as "deplorable" racists, sexists, homophobic, etc. President Obama has been just as bad, if not worse. Americans need to see our commonality. This past week, as we remembered the 9/11 terrorist attacks, we could also look back and see that solidarity. It shouldn't take a terrorist attack to view each other as countrymen.


--Focus on the positive.

The president and his (or her) administration set the tone for the country from the top down. Barack Obama has spent far too much time criticizing Americans -- religious people are "bitter;" those in small towns or remote areas hold "antipathy to those who aren't like them;" police "act stupidly;" Christians need to "get off their high horse" and remember the Crusades.

But not a day goes by that someone doesn't post a story on social media that demonstrates the small acts of kindness Americans do for each other every day: the UCLA fraternity boys who put lights on their house for a sick little girl across the street; the cop who bought shoes for a homeless man; the Georgia tech students who bought a gift for the business school's security guard. Not to mention the millions of dollars that ordinary citizens have pitched in for victims of the Boston Marathon bombing, the Ferguson, Missouri riots, and countless others. These are the things the president needs to turn our attention to.

--Every problem doesn't need a federal solution.

There are 300 million people in this country. Chances are we can solve a problem if given the chance. (Witness the flooding in Baton Rouge and the "Cajun Navy.") It makes far more sense for an individual school or school district to attend to the needs of the relatively small number of transgender students, for example, than for the Department of Education to issue a one-size-fits-all diktat.


--Don't apologize for the United States.

Our adversaries see it as weakness.

--Now that we know what's in it, we hate it.

Obamacare isn't working. It's time to allow Congress to fix it -- in a bipartisan fashion, which is how it should have been done in the first place. And relatedly...

--Socialism does not work.

See Venezuela. And Brazil. No, not even for health care. The National Health Service in England is broke. Our efforts here are no better. As the Veteran Affairs and Indian Health Services demonstrate.

--Stop the identity politics.

Stop blaming people for things they didn't do, on the basis of the ethnic or racial group they belong to. This forces them into a defensive posture. What a waste of energy. Accusations polarize, empathy unifies. Appeal to people's empathy, their charity, and their goodness. You'll be surprised at what you see.

--You work for us.

You are not our boss. And you are not a legislative body. Stop telling the rest of us what to do. No more "executive orders" in place of legislation. Respect the Constitution and the limits it places on your office. The entire country is better for it.


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