E Pluribus Unum banner detail in the Apotheosis of Washington on the dome of the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C. (Wikimedia Commons)

America is searching for its soul. Just as every nation, the United States must find its own peculiar path to destiny. The United States went from a nation built on slavery and herding Native-Americans onto reservations to a beacon of democracy and one of the greatest nations to ever grace the planet. It is difficult to imagine the modern miracle of Israel without the American people standing by its side when it mattered the most.

The American people are not defined by any one U.S. president. Most rational people around the world realize that Americans are just hard-working people like them. They have families, laugh at the antics of grandchildren, and volunteer for worthy causes like decent people anywhere in the world.

Occasionally, Americans fight wars at the behest of their leaders, but only because they are convinced that they are fighting for freedom and democracy. American GIs were told that they would be greeted by cheering crowds when they liberated Iraq from the evil dictator Saddam Hussein. Modern Americans never fight to enslave other peoples as past empires have done.

Donald J. Trump will not change the heart of America. The worst thing he can do is make its heart ache. Those of us who sympathized with the Never Trump camp went into a state of shock on the morning of November 9. We awoke to a different world. Something unthinkable had gone wrong. We tore our garments and began a period of mourning as though something dear had died.

One of the hallmarks of American democracy is the peaceful transition of power. The founding fathers no doubt had faith that a truly irrational person could never successfully manage anything as complex as a successful presidential campaign. It perhaps was believed that anyone who could win the hearts of so many American voters had to have above average character. Only 45 people have been able to accomplish such a feat in 240 years of American history.

But there’s something different about Trump. His irrational threats, mocking of those different or less fortunate than him, and blatant ego seems to be what his supporters like most about him. He bragged on January 23 that he could “stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody” and not lose voters. The scary thing is that his erratic election campaign and subsequent victory seemed to validate his assertion.

Donald J. Trump said hundreds of things during his campaign that if any candidate in any previous election cycle had articulated just one such Trumpism, he would have been disqualified in the eyes of the American electorate and unable to run for political office again.

Trump’s supporters looked past his bluster and braggadocio and heard a candidate articulating their fear of jihadists, their frustration with a gridlocked and dysfunctional Washington, and their general unwillingness to take it anymore. For decades, his conservative supporters felt powerless and victimized as one liberal Supreme Court after another rammed down their throats decisions unacceptable to their political palates or religious sensitivities.

Little did many of his angry supporters realize that Donald J. Trump was just a cheap opportunist. The Donald’s knack for success in business was his willingness to do whatever it took to get the job done or accomplish whatever goal he set for himself. Within a week of Trump’s election, he seemingly already was softening many campaign threats and promises that he had made to energize his base and get elected. After all, by then he had already won. The rhetoric could now be toned down.

Trump’s propensity during the primary and general election to utterly humiliate perceived opponents was palpable whether they were a sitting judge, a journalist, or a political rival. Such was not the America where I played Little League baseball. We were taught that it was not whether we won or lost, but how we played the game that mattered. To Donald Trump, it’s not how you play the game that matters as long as you win.

President Obama on November 14 pointed out during his news conference that Trump was not an ideologue, but a pragmatist. Such pragmatism might serve him well in a town like Washington, D.C., where the only path to legislative success truly is the art of the deal.

The American political process is like Israeli political realities in that no president is elected or can successfully govern without some coalition building, compromise, and reaching across the aisle to those who often do their best to make sure that you fail. Such is the reality of politics.

The U.S. Congress is generally a check on a president of the opposing party. Hopefully, Paul Ryan and his colleagues will be a check on the worst tendencies of a president who was accustomed to getting his own way in business and firing apprentices on a whim for entertainment. Perhaps the difficulties and realities of governance will tamp down Trump’s ego and keep him from turning the country and the rest of the world upside down.

I am old-fashioned enough to still believe that character matters. Surely, in all of America there were several people possessing character with just as much talent, drive, and convictions as Mr. Trump. I don’t believe in Donald Trump, but I do believe in the American people and the strength of American democracy. Hopefully, he will learn to accept rational counsel from competent and level-headed professionals.

Will Trump move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem? Could he actually recognize that Israeli settlements are not the real obstacles to peace? Or will he try to force his own solution on the peace process in his typical egotistical style? Only time will tell if he has the courage to discontinue longstanding American pressure on Israel to make irrational and unilateral concessions to terrorists.

I know firsthand the love that most Americans have for our Jewish State. May the new president, the U.S. Congress, and the American people continue to be the invaluable friends we have thus far known them to be regardless of what else may change in American politics. Preliminary indications seem to reveal this to be the case.

Yoeli’s Mandate: Leave your mark, make a difference for the good, and do your part to make sure that they never again devour Jacob or make his habitation waste.

You may write to Yoeli Kaufman at ocfidina@yahoo.com

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Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this blog article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official position or viewpoint of The Jerusalem Post. Blog authors are NOT employees, freelance or salaried, of The Jerusalem Post.

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