I’m torn about how to deal with Donald Trump.
Part of me says that this is the same guy who demonstrated a clear lack of respect for many Americans, engaged in disgusting personal behavior, and expressed views that would present a clear and present danger to the United States if they were actually to become government policy.
Another part of me says that he has been (or will soon be, once the Electoral College casts its votes) duly elected as President of the United States, and as such deserves an opportunity to demonstrate by his actions that my concerns during the campaign were unfounded.
I have long believed in the notion that the Presidency itself deserves the respect of all Americans and that even when you supported someone else — as I did when Barack Obama and Bill Clinton were elected — you should be prepared to help the leader of our nation to succeed.
In the weeks since the election, Donald Trump seems to have moderated many of his campaign positions, suggesting he would not seek to jail Hillary Clinton and might back off his proclamations on waterboarding, to name just a couple of flip-flops.
These could be reassuring signs that Trump has felt the weight of the office begin to settle on his shoulders and realized he needs to take a more mature view of the world.
Or they could be further reaffirmation of the idea that he lacks any moral compass or sense of policy direction, instead focusing mostly on personal ambition regardless of the consequences to others.
One thing we know is that we can’t simply ignore Trump.
He is the incoming President of the United States and will play a vital role in the direction of our country for the next four years (or more).
As an entrepreneur and communicator, I will need to figure out how to navigate these waters to steward a growing business that relies on the global economy to succeed.
As an American, I will need to figure out how to balance principal with practicality to encourage the best results from the new administration.
I don’t want to legitimize the ugly aspects of modern American society that helped fuel Trump’s rise, but I do want to acknowledge the frustration bordering on despair that drove support for both Trump and Bernie Sanders.
There needs to be a transformation of our politics, a reexamination of the role of the media, and a renewed focus on ensuring everyone has a shot at economic opportunity.
None of this will be easy.
We will need to find a way to respect the Office of the President without normalizing the behavior of its occupant.
We will need to find a way to encourage vigorous journalism without further fragmenting into like-minded echo chambers.
We will need to find a way to incorporate all Americans into the global economy without assuming everyone is just like us.
Ultimately, the art of dealing with Trump may be to work alongside him rather than with him.
Those who seek to destroy Trump right out of the gate will be missing the point that half of the electorate tried to make with their votes.
Rather than wasting time and resources fighting against Trump, we should be promoting issues, ideas, and solutions that can make a difference in addressing the fear and frustration that Trump and Sanders tapped into.
Instead of stooping to Trump’s level of name-calling, we should be calling upon each other to raise the level of discourse and understand and appreciate each other’s differences.
Trump has managed to find a path to the Oval Office by being an effective weathervane.
You change the direction of a weathervane by finding a way to shift the winds around it, not by shouting at it to turn.
That’s the art of dealing with Trump.