With Malice Toward None – Please

Jewish Light Editorial

Mere weeks ago, few Americans predicted Republican candidate Donald Trump would win the presidency. On Friday, he will be sworn in as the 45th president of the United States after securing a majority in the Electoral College, even though his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, won the popular vote by nearly 3 million ballots.

As has been the case since the era of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, a solid majority of Jewish voters supported the Democratic candidate.A minority of Jewish voters did vote for Trump; some voted for neither major candidate.

After he takes the oath of office, Trump can use his speech to the nation to set the tone and the policies for the next four years. Ideally, he will follow the example of previous occupants of the White House who used their inaugural addresses to reassure and inspire their fellow citizens with ringing quotes that still speak to us:

“With malice toward none, with charity toward all,” said Abraham Lincoln as he tried to set the tone for binding up the wounds of the Civil War.

“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself,” said FDR as he took office in 1933, helping to break through the dark clouds of the Great Depression while the power of fascism and Nazism were growing in Europe.

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In his hope-filled address in 1961, John F. Kennedy memorably declared: “My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” 

And from Ronald Reagan in 1981:We have every right to dream heroic dreams.”

What might President Trump say to heal an election-battered nation, freeing himself from the 140-character tyranny of Twitter to expound and perhaps inspire the country and the world? Here are a few suggested paragraphs that we have the chutzpah to offer:


“My fellow Americans: As a man not known for his humility, let me share with you that I am truly humbled to assume the awesome powers and duties of our nation’s highest office. It is an honor to share the platform with former presidents, along with my very worthy opponent in the 2016 campaign, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. They are great Americans all, who provided wise leadership through good times and challenging times. I will be calling upon my predecessors for advice and counsel during my years in office.

“I would also like to warmly thank President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama for being so gracious to me and my family and so helpful during the transition, and for their service to the nation these past eight years. As the nation’s first African-American president, Barack Obama made all Americans stand tall and proud.

“So many challenges face our nation and the world that it is difficult to address them all in a single speech, or in the first 100 days of a new administration. Let me mention a few top priorities:

“I am committed to serve as president of ALL Americans, not just those who supported my election but also those who supported Secretary Clinton – even those who deeply lament the fact I was elected at all. Each time this great nation has faced deep divisions in our 241-year history, we have emerged stronger and more unified.

“Second, let me give you my word that I will treat my high office with the respect it deserves, and I will not use its vast powers to squelch dissent or shackle a free and vigorous press.

“I pledge to repudiate all forms of bigotry and reject support from such extremists as David Duke, the Ku Klux Klan and others of their ilk. I affirm not only that black lives matter but so do white lives, Muslim, Christian, Jewish lives and LGBTQ lives, the lives of those men and women in the armed services and in law enforcement.

“Finally, let me apologize for any inappropriate actions or statements in my campaign and in my past. Like any of our past presidents, I have my share of flaws and will no doubt make some mistakes on the job. When these mistakes occur, I promise I will promptly admit them and do all I can to set things right. If I fail to live up to this heartfelt vow, in four years, the American people can tell me, ‘You’re fired!’

“Thank you God bless you, and God bless the United States of America.”

Be this God’s will.