Editor’s note: The upset victory by Donald Trump in the 2016 elections stunned a Jewish activist and leadership class that is at times as divided as the electorate at large. JTA asked some of those leaders to describe their concerns and expectations in a series of brief essays, “Worst fears, best hopes,” that will appear regularly between now and Inauguration Day.
WASHINGTON (JTA) — I am concerned that in the coming years we may face a potential erosion of our democratic institutions and a time in America when the separation of powers, which we thought was so ingrained in our democracy, will be challenged. How will members of Congress and presidential appointees balance loyalties to their party and president with fealty to democracy and country?
Will President-elect Donald Trump and his advisers operate as part of the bipartisan continuum in foreign policy that has shaped our post-World War II international system or dismiss our international obligations and alliances?
The president-elect can be unpredictable and inconsistent at times. Looking at specific policies, I am perplexed why he sees same-sex marriage as settled law but takes the opposite perspective on Roe v. Wade. Overturning Roe v. Wade would be an assault on a woman’s fundamental right to choose, leaving millions of women without access to safe abortions, jeopardizing the health and sometimes lives of countless numbers of them.
I see some hope in Trump’s reversal of some previous positions: He wants some parts of Obamacare to continue and has pulled back on promises of mass deportation. These changes should not be rejected as “flip flops” but instead embraced and encouraged as a move toward responsible decision-making and governance.
My hope is that as president, Trump will be repeatedly outspoken and passionate in rejecting every form of anti-Semitism, bigotry and racism, leaving no doubt of his intent.
My greatest hope is that once the power and responsibilities of the office rest on the president-elect’s shoulders, he will provide the assurance and stability that Americans and our allies require, demonstrating that the rhetoric and promises of a divisive campaign are not the principles of governance.
(Ron Halber is the executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington. The views expressed here are his own.)
Previous articles in this series can be found here.