In my regular column in Haaretz, my new article: “How Trump Can Drain the Swamp“
So far, Trump’s been a fighter, but draining the swamp and making America great will take a miracle—uniting the “United States.”
To no one’s surprise, even President Trump’s April 7 missile attack on the Syrian air base whose planes apparently dropped sarin gas bombs on civilians just three days prior, was met with criticism from the neoliberal media. Nevertheless, the general feeling is that a military response was in order.
Terror struck Sweden just weeks after Carl Bildt, former Swedish PM, mocked the president following his implication that immigrants perpetrated a terror attack in Sweden, tweeting, “Sweden? Terror attack? What has he been smoking?” Now, after an illegal immigrant killed four people and injured 15 in a truck-ramming attack in downtown Stockholm, the current Swedish PM declared that Sweden will “never go back” to the days of mass migration.
Finally, despite months of derision at Trump’s insistence that the Obama Administration spied on him and his advisors prior to the election, Bloomberg’s Eli Lake has revealed that Susan Rice, former national security adviser to Barack Obama, did precisely that.
In conclusion, I agree with former Vice President Joe Biden who said last month that President Trump deserves a chance to lead the country.
Keys to Going Forward
To “drain the swamp,” as the president likes to refer to his intention to clean up the mess left by his predecessor, Trump must first dry up the streams that feed it. In the case of American society, they are divisiveness, mistrust, and alienation. The Obama Administration, which many expected to heal America’s wounds of racism, has produced the exact opposite. It was one of the most divisive periods that the US has seen since the end of World War II, if not before. The election of Donald Trump brought these rifts to the surface, but it did not create them. Throughout the American society, accelerated marginalization is occurring and the center is quickly shrinking on both sides of the political map. To clean it all up, Trump will need to find a way to help American society coalesce into a society with a common agenda, common goals, and common agreement on what is good for the country. Currently, the tensions are so high that if Trump fails, the next president might have to tackle such problems as states declaring political independence from the central government, rampant violent clashes between police and civilians, and other problems more characteristic of Third World countries than of the leader of the free world.
The president has already begun to move toward easing tensions. Steps such as providing historically black colleges and universities a long-awaited boost as he looks to outdo his predecessors (including the nation’s first African-American president) can earn him points, but they will not produce cohesion or solidarity in America unless they are part of an inclusive strategy of connection.
A Businesslike Approach
One of the president’s main assets is his businesslike approach to governance. He is willing to make changes to both policy and personnel. Since he is already looking for ideas for improved governance, I would consider building the cabinet from people who are committed to connecting the entirety of the American people, rather than to promoting a specific political or sectoral agenda.
The cabinet should adopt a positive and proactive approach that regards problems as indicators of social disunity rather than as isolated crises. The mode of work should resemble that of a healthy family: It has to prioritize, yet without leaving any family members behind. If Trump’s Administration comes to view the American people in this way, there is no doubt America will be great again.
The Jewish Angle
As with any administration in the last several decades, Donald Trump’s cabinet is rife with Jews. People often think that Jews use financial power to pave their way to the top. But viewing their success as a mere offshoot of wealth misses the key strength of Jews. Jews are at the top primarily because they are great connectors. Their ability to connect people to people gives them clout in every system. The problem is that political leaders tend to use this unique skill to promote a partisan agenda. Trump will set a precedent if he uses them in order to promote an all-American agenda of unity.
There is a good reason why Jews excel at connecting people. They are the only nation in the world with an official birthday. The Torah writes that on the 6th of the Hebrew month of Sivan, 2488 on the Hebrew calendar (1272 BC), the Jewish people was pronounced. The prerequisite for the declaration of the Jewish people was that they unite “as one man with one heart.” Since that momentous event, the rise and fall of the Jewish people has depended on their level of dedication to the principle of unity.
In the centuries following their inauguration, the Jews endured countless internal conflicts. They overcame them by applying the law that King Solomon succinctly worded, “Hate stirs strife, and love covers all crimes” (Prov 10:12). Around the beginning of the Common Era, they lost their ability to “cover their hatred with love,” and the alienation between them evolved into such hatred that it brought upon them the exile from the Land of Israel and the ruin of the Temple. The Talmud (Masechet Yoma) states this very clearly: “The Second Temple … why was it ruined? Because there was unfounded hatred in it.”
Following the ruin of the Temple and the exile from the Land of Israel, Jews remained experts in connection, but they no longer wanted to connect the nation “as one man with one heart.” Instead, they used the skill they had honed for centuries to promote the interests of their coteries. Political success requires good connections. As a result, politicians have always employed Jewish advisors, usually under the (derogatory) title: “Court Jew.” Just recently, Jonathan Levi of the Forward asked, “Is Jared Kushner the ‘Court Jew’ of Donald Trump’s Realm?”
Making America Great Again
Draining the swamp will require Jews in Donald Trump’s administration to work differently than in all previous administrations. To succeed, America must be a united nation. Trump needs to require that first and foremost, the Jews facilitate connections and rapport among themselves on both sides of the political map. Subsequently, they must extend that amity to the rest of the nation.
If the Jews, who are in key positions in both parties, establish trust and understanding among themselves, it will facilitate a reconciliation process with the Democratic Party and the possibility to establish a government that enjoys the full support of Congress. The longer Trump waits, the harder it will be for him to operate, as divisive forces such as Barack Obama, John McCain, and Bernie Sanders grow stronger through the relentless push of neoliberal news media, which encompass nearly all major networks including, to a degree, Fox News.
Typically, advisors to the president suggest in which direction to lead the country and how to bring it there. But Donald Trump is not your ordinary president. He is a businesslike leader who determines how he wants his advisors to help him. If he is smart, he will tell them to draw up a roadmap leading from the current partisanship to trust, cooperation, and eventual cohesion of the American society and the political establishment. This will make America not only great, but also a role model for all other nations, “a light unto nations,” if you will. Implementing a plan of this nature will drain the swamp for certain, and will guarantee America’s future of safety, peace, and world leadership.