Every year brings a new start for Americans, but New Year's resolutions are especially important for congressional Republicans and President Trump in January. Resolutions will help policymakers shore-up public support ahead of the 2018 midterm elections. Here are a few helpful hints:
President Trump should resolve to stop taking criticisms so personally. Politics is fraught with critics whose existence depends on their loyal opposition to majority policies. President Trump, new to elective politics, must learn that such criticism will occur, regardless of his cries against it, via Twitter or his being personally offended by those who do so. Part of the process of being president is rising above such criticism, focusing on one's presidential agenda, legislative program or policy objective. Let staff deal with critics in the New Year, but don't get caught up in the pettiness of political drama — it goes with the territory of being president.
Congress should resolve to coordinate legislative policy with President Trump. Approval ratings, according to recent Gallup polling, hover around 35 percent for President Trump after nearly a year in office, and 13 percent for Congress — poor numbers. Congress' highest approval rating was 28 percent in June of 2017 — it's dropped ever since. One current congressional representative mentioned that Trump is on one page this week while Congress is on a different page. Next week, Congress will be on one page and Trump will be on another. Coordination is lacking for a president and Congress of the same political party, meaning that the legislative machinery necessary to move America forward is malfunctioning. And it's not about "draining the swamp." Trump has not submitted enough qualified individuals to run the federal government, a necessary function of coordination of public policy objectives required of both Congress and the president.
Congress and President Trump should resolve to avoid war with North Korea at all costs. It will take effort to do so, but America should not rush to judgment or take personally the slights leveled at America by North Korea's president. Nuclear war would change for the worse the world's political landscape, to say little of death and destruction for all nations. Diplomacy requires excessive amounts of patience. It should be exercised without sacrificing the principle of peace through strength.
Policymakers should resolve to solve America's immigration policy by March 1, 2018, including resolution of the DACA issue (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). Immigration policy should include securing the United States border, making delays inherent in American citizenship for applicants shorter and less expensive, providing those of undocumented status with a "special" resident status, including passage of background checks and civic learning knowledge, preparatory to applications for citizenship, and payment of a fee for entering America without documentation. While it's a big, complicated subject, it deserves policymakers' immediate attention.
Legislators should resolve to adopt spending provisions that reduce the federal debt (some $20 trillion today) and deficit (about $440 billion). They should trim entitlement programs, too, a necessary function of balancing the budget.
All policymakers should strive to raise their approval ratings in 2018. Politics is such that it's unlikely voters will quickly abandon their opinions about politicians' ratings. More statesmen, fewer ideologues and self-serving leaders will improve ratings. Recent sexual harassment claims have further tarnished leaders' reputations and solidified negative feelings about congressional members. That can change if voters will encourage upstanding people to seek high public office. Alleged child molesters and insecure politicians should be rejected. Congressional harassment training should help.
Congress should resolve to spend less time raising re-election campaign funds and spend more time on public-policy measures. Some members spend at least 40 percent of their time raising campaign funds instead of attending to national business. Restrictions through congressional rules should be implemented.
The Supreme Court should resolve to fix the problem of congressional gerrymandering next term, thereby making congressional districts more competitive. They're not now, because 95 percent of all incumbents are re-elected.
President Trump should tweet less, smile more and enact more sound public policies. Though Trump boasts more than 1 million Twitter followers, media criticisms only make public criticism sharper. Print outlets will always have more ink than the president — and they'll use it against him.
Finally, congressional Democrats should resolve to resist being against "all things Trump" and vote with Republicans sometimes.
Resolutions like these represent new starts. All of the federal government's three coequal branches stand to improve their standing by adopting these 2018 resolutions, and that would benefit America.♦