America Elects the Candidate of Change

November 10, 2016

After the improbable victory of the quintessential outsider over the consummate insider, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton did the nation a grand service.

In his moment of triumph, Mr. Trump demonstrated humility. In his victory speech early Wednesday morning, Mr. Trump pledged that “I will be president for all of Americans.” He asked for help and guidance from “those who have chosen not to support me in the past.”

The New York businessman was gracious to Mrs. Clinton, his vanquished foe. “Hillary has worked very long and very hard over a long period of time,” he said, “and we owe her a major debt of gratitude for her service to our country.”

Mr. Trump spoke in lyrical terms about uniting the country. He said the movement behind his campaign included “Americans from all races, religions, backgrounds and beliefs who want and expect our government to serve the people—and serve the people it will.”

That graciousness was reciprocated by Mrs. Clinton in her concession speech midday Wednesday. “Donald Trump is going to be our president,” she said. “We owe him an open mind and the chance to lead.” She also said she hoped “that he will be a successful president for all Americans.” These may have been hard words to say, but they were offered with sincerity and goodwill.

By contrast, President Obama’s remarks Wednesday afternoon were perfunctory. Speaking in the Rose Garden of the White House, he pledged to “work as hard as we can to make sure that this is a successful transition for the president-elect.” He added: “We’re not Democrats first. We’re not Republicans first. We are Americans first.”

All in all, it was a good start. Let us hope these are more than merely words. There can be honest disagreements later. But as Mr. Trump prepares to enter office he needs the goodwill of Americans of all parties and opinions. He will inherit terrible difficulties: a weak economy that has left many people struggling without hope and opportunity; a burgeoning national debt; a world made dangerous by Islamic terrorism; a bitter and poisoned politics.

Achieving his agenda will not be easy or quick, as Mr. Trump has often promised. The Founders designed the American system so that government would be restrained and awkward to move. Mr. Trump should not be tempted to abuse the Constitution out of a desire to meet his goals, as Mr. Obama has been.

The new president should focus on strengthening the economy, rebuilding the military, securing the border and making America respected again. This will require discipline, which Mr. Trump demonstrated in his campaign’s final weeks, to his great advantage.

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