It's official. Donald Trump has won the Electoral College vote. Mr. Trump’s supporters are understandably gleeful at their chance to govern. They’ve got the House, Senate, and Presidency. And they will likely appoint several Supreme Court Justices. In short, Republicans are on the verge of remaking American life for decades to come.
Opposition parties – Libertarians, Greens, and my fellow Democrats – now have the obligation to rise up as faithful challengers to hold President Trump accountable.
Smart Republicans know that the country needs these levelheaded voices to help govern. America is not North Korea, with one Communist Party and one infallible leader. Democracies need multiple parties to thrive.
It’s fair to say, though, that my fellow Democrats and I have struggled to find our voices over the past six weeks. We’ve wrestled with excuses and recounts, denial and anger. After all, we walked into election night with a 98 percent chance of winning, even with the headwinds of Russian hacking. But sensible Democrats accept the real reason for our loss: the American people wanted change and we nominated a candidate that was too flawed to accept that mantle.
We may have won the popular vote, but we lost Obama’s Blue Wall.
Democrats now have a critical task: showing the American people that our vision for the country is worth considering. But what vision? Vice President Biden acknowledged that there’s now a “contest of ideas” over the party’s direction, which gives us an important opportunity to reboot.
And who will lead this effort? The vice president named President Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, and himself. Maybe some governors.
Though I have tremendous respect for Mr. Biden, I believe he’s off the mark. Change will not come from establishment insiders. The party apparatus is broken; our interim leader is a confirmed cheater (and liar to boot). It’s time for our own Trump Movement. We must drain our own swamp.
Thankfully, Democrats have a young generation of Americans who are ready to do just that. They have saluted and served their nation once before – as former diplomats, military members, spies, and Peace Corps / AmeriCorps volunteers. And they are ready to serve once more.
As a former intelligence officer, I know that this group of men and women are prepared to fight for what’s right. We understand the importance of saluting our flag and embracing our constitution. We have lost friends and family in wars without reason. And we work in an economy that no longer works for us.
As our party debates its way forward, I believe that there is a set of core principles that should guide the country. Call it Our American Oath, made up of 10 common sense solutions that all reasonable conservatives and liberals can embrace:
1. Elites Must Go. We will push aggressively for a constitutional amendment for term limits. We also support a lifetime ban on elected officials serving as lobbyists. You don’t drain a swamp just to let it fill back up again.
2. Fair Trade. NAFTA and the World Trade Organization must be renegotiated. For 20 years, we have shipped jobs abroad with the promise of cheap goods and better jobs in return. Economists acknowledge this arrangement has failed.
3. Economic Vitality. We support rebuilding America’s infrastructure to facilitate job growth and protect the health of our people. This is especially true in rural America and inner cities. Meanwhile, we must address the economic tsunami heading our way: Silicon Valley’s automation, robotics, and artificial intelligence.
4. Education. We staunchly support public education and recognize the tough position of today’s teachers. Still, there is room for reform. Charter schools are part of that solution.
5. Energy. The elites shipped us off to wars and conflicts for oil. No more. It’s time to rebuild our electrical grid and let the free market develop solar, wind and natural gas projects in its place; no Solyndras.
6. National Security. We embrace the goal of making countries democratic, but not by the barrel of a gun. Wars like Iraq and Libya must end. Next, our fight against terrorism should include a tough line against the radical Islamic ideology that pours from Saudi Arabia. Finally, we must build an aggressive capacity to address asymmetrical threats like cyber attacks.
7. Corporate America. Wells Fargo recently admitted to opening up two million fake accounts in our names. This isn’t an anomaly: big corporations often chase profits at the expense of the American worker. We will fight any efforts to roll back common sense rules to keep businesses honest.
8. Environment. The Iroquois tribe had it right – every decision should consider how it would impact seven generations in the future. Our posterity deserves the cleanest water and freshest air we can give them, even if that means we sacrifice today.
9. Social Issues. The government should get out of our bodies, our bedrooms, and our churches. So long as our choices don’t involve taxpayer money, it’s no one’s business but our own. Next, we reject identity politics and their corrosive effects on the nation. Finally, we embrace individual responsibility and accountability.
10. Social Safety Net. We understand that the government can be a force for good if it’s directed properly. Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security are prime examples of that. We are amenable to reform but not if it undermines America’s basic protections for the most vulnerable.
As we offer these principles to the America people, we also extend a hand to Mr. Trump. We are ready and eager to cooperate where it fits these values, but will stand firm if pushed too far. Still, we stand shoulder to shoulder with all Americans who – whether they voted for Trump or not – want to make America great again. We are Democrats who want the same.
Bryan Dean Wright is a former CIA ops officer and member of the Democratic Party. He contributes on issues of politics, national security, and the economy. Follow him on Twitter @BryanDeanWright.