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Perspective | Give the new sheriff the benefit of the doubt

By Pat Freibert

PatFreibert 2FOLLOWING the inauguration of President Donald Trump and the installation of a new Congress, a new set of leaders has embarked on the task of governing America. This changing of the guard completes the traditional American transfer of power dating back to the nation’s beginning. While there is emphatically a “new sheriff in town,” the republic continues.

The words of the president’s inaugural address were about the vigorous defense of American interests and a pledge to “bring back power to the American people.” His pledge was “to the people, not to the political establishment in Washington,” a theme reminiscent of the approach of former President Ronald Reagan in the 1980s.

The language of President Trump’s speech consisted of “straight talk” as opposed to “soaring rhetoric.” President Trump often spoke on the campaign trail of Washington’s focus on too much talk and rhetoric without action.

The “changing of the guard” has been most obviously demonstrated in the early days by the kind of individuals chosen to serve in the president’s Cabinet. Supporters and many opponents seem impressed with the superior qualifications of some of those nominated by the president. They represent a cross section of American society, primarily from private-sector careers, just as the president does. The scarcity of lifelong politicians also tracks the new president’s promise of a fresh direction. President Trump’s Cabinet selections further suggest that he does not hold a grudge against former opponents, as he named two Republican primary challengers to key positions.

In his speech, President Trump spoke directly to middle-class Americans and those who feel “forgotten” by Washington, like the 93 million Americans without jobs and no job prospects on the horizon. His remarks also focused on the importance of a lawful society, and respect for those responsible for keeping the country safe. He spoke about the necessity of rudimentary change for a faltering economy, as well as the urgency to address the basic problems generated by the Affordable Care Act, which turns out not be very affordable and has caused millions to lose

their primary care physicians and millions more to experience further skyrocketing premiums. More millions have seen their full-time jobs reduced to part-time or temporary jobs or no jobs at all.

The speech touched on bringing America together, loyalty to our country and to each other, and emphasized that “we should not be ashamed to be ‘American First.’” The president’s speech said, “There is no room for prejudice when we open our hearts.”

The new president was an improbable candidate and seriously underestimated at every stage by his opponents, the talking heads in the media, the pollsters and political commentators. Nevertheless, he outperformed all others despite, or perhaps because of, his background in the private sector, rather than the political class. While he did not run an “anti-government campaign,” he focused on making the government work for everyone, including those who felt left behind.

The inability of the previous administration to successfully address serious violent crime in our cities, the drug culture, economic efforts to stem jobless- ness, expansion of federal control through regulatory overreach in virtu- ally all areas of American life, lack of accountability for those same regulators and federal appointees found to have abused their offices and the peoples’ money all contributed to President Trump’s election.

The election is over and now is the time to govern. There is much to do in the areas of jobs and stimulating a still sluggish economy, and in foreign relations in a world with more individual threats to the country’s interests than perhaps ever before – including radical terrorism, energy production and independence, and addressing regulatory overreach where it has resulted in huge costs for consumers and no demonstrable benefits.

The changing of the guard is now underway, and American tradition and basic fairness dictate that the new sheriff be given the benefit of the doubt and allowed to make changes. The nation has chosen a new leader in a lawful election. Restoring honesty and de-politicizing our federal agencies is likely to be an early initiative of the new administration. And a good place to begin might be with the Veterans Administration, the IRS or the Environmental Protection Agency.

Pat Freibert is a former Kentucky state representative from Lexington. She can be reached at [email protected]

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