FREE and fair elections are one of democracy’s main pillars as is the smooth and peaceful transfer of power. America has chosen and, whether one approves of that choice or not, it should be accepted and respected both at home and abroad.
It is no secret that while I wrote an op-ed in August, 2015 backing Donald Trump to the hilt and supported his bid for the White House during my keynote address to delegates attending the 24th Annual Arab-US Policymakers Conference held in Washington last year, I felt then — and still do — that a successful businessman would have the skill set to strengthen the US economy, which, in turn, gives a boost to the global economy.
I cannot deny that I was shocked and surprised at his stated intention to bar Muslims from visiting the US (an ill-conceived policy that recently disappeared from Trump’s own website), which forced me to rescind my initial enthusiastic endorsement.
I now believe that once he is in office he will gain a better grasp of issues and a greater understanding of potential consequences. In recent days, he projects a far more presidential persona. His rhetoric is softened and his bearing reflects the seriousness of his aspirations.
Give Mr Trump his due. He won an exceptionally hard fought race despite constant criticism from the media leaning overwhelmingly towards Hillary Clinton and establishment figures of all political hues, including attacks from President Barack Obama. I have to admire his gumption. He rode to Pennsylvania Avenue on the back of sheer determination while throughout his two- year journey his enemies never ceased to nip at his heels.
America needs to do some soul-searching to discover why a rank outsider succeeded in surpassing a seasoned politician with decades of experience. The fact is that the system has let down many millions of struggling Americans who on Nov 8 rejected more of the same embodied by former secretary of state Hillary Clinton.
These are people forgotten by the pollsters — people who felt left behind by Washington. Many voted for the first time in their lives. Donald Trump related to ordinary men and women. He spoke their language, tapped into their grievances and offered not only real change but he also ignited a renewed sense of national pride.
Now the President-elect should be given the opportunity to follow through on his pledges. He should be given the chance to formulate his policies, get his team together and prove to his fellow Americans that his promises to create jobs, build new infrastructure, double GDP growth — and work with allies to eradicate ISIL, were not just vote-getting hot air.
But as a prerequisite to his advancement of US domestic and external interests, Americans must bury their misgivings and come together for the common good. Mass protests, riots and vandalism are not solutions — they only exacerbate existing hatreds and divisions.
No matter how many anti-Trump placards are held up or slogans chanted, no amount of opposition will halt destiny’s unfolding. Donald Trump won 290 electoral votes and will be inaugurated as the 45th President in the history of the United States on Jan 20, 2017.
Those determined to ruin that day with protests are shooting themselves and their fellow citizens in the foot. When Americans pull in opposite directions, nothing will be achieved. America needs unity not division. The country desperately needs healing. President Obama gets it, which is why he has put all the insults and bad feeling behind him to graciously reach out to his successor.
I would urge all Americans to emulate Obama’s class. Harbouring grudges and harping on ‘what ifs’ are destructive. There is nothing to gain by making the future president’s job harder than it already is or diminishing his stature in the eyes of the world.
Once he has appointed his dream team, give him breathing space of at least a year to show what he can do. On the foreign policy front, it is my hope that he renegotiates the Iranian nuclear deal, works to end the carnage in Syria, and cleanses our planet from the twin scourges of terrorism and extremism.
Here is a prediction. Just as President Ronald Reagan was a different man to the Hollywood actor who dared to run for the top job and was ridiculed for doing so, President Donald Trump will summon his personal strengths, surround himself with experienced people and rise to the occasion. Just as the man shapes the offices, so the office shapes the man.
I can only wish Mr Trump and the people he will swear to serve in less than seven weeks, good luck in revitalizing the American dream and consolidating America’s rightful place as leader of the free world. Forgiveness and reconciliation are the keys to a bright future for all.
By Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor