We woke up this weekend with a new president in the White House.
There are concerns from both sides of the aisle as to what the next four years will bring, as President Trump never has held public office before — he has no political record that would help us forecast what’s to come.
A contentious presidential race and the influence of questionable news sources has resulted in a gaping political divide among Americans. Sharon Schweitzer, author and founder of Austin, Texas-based Protocol & Etiquette Worldwide, has some advice for “graciously” handling political discussions:
• Respectfully respond and engage in conversation: Expressing your beliefs can be done in a way not destined for a political brawl. For example, citing research and concrete reasons why your views align a certain way encourages more of an intellectual conversation, as opposed to a war of opinions.
• You can mannerly reconcile conflicting beliefs: Disagreements will arise. When they do, handle them with grace, dignity and respect. For example: “That’s an interesting viewpoint, and you raise some valid points. However, my research reveals ...” Never raise your voice or make it personal.
• You can exercise your right to privacy: Keeping your opinion to yourself is professional and privacy is possible. Have a few statements in your arsenal: “After such a contentious election and the inauguration, I’m keeping my opinion to myself. I appreciate your interest and wish you the best in 2017.” By acknowledging their genuine interest, you defer a sticky political conversation.
• Above all else, graciously handle yourself: Whether you decide to respond or not, be tactful, polite, and remember that educated responses allow you to cordially engage, or graciously decline, whenever these inevitable conversations cross your path.
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On a more serious note, one area of concern with the new administration is Trump’s relationship with a free press.
His treatment of professional journalists, particularly at his most recent news conference, at best can be described as combative. He cuts off questions he finds distasteful and relies on tweets to convey his thoughts because he can choose to ignore any feedback. It’s much easier to state your stance on an issue over social media than have it scrutinized face-to-face by a reporter.
According to a column by Robert B. Reich of Tribune News Service, senior officials on the Trump transition team said the new administration may move the White House press corps to a larger conference center or the Executive Office Building. The press has had workspace at the White House since 1902. The intimate setting, Reich argues, makes it harder for officials to avoid tough questions.
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This is not to wish the new president ill will. Hopefully his actions will further grow the U.S. economy and help solve problems in areas such as health care, jobs, terrorism, taxation, inclusiveness and immigration.
As patriots, our concerns rest with the nation as a whole, not one party or another. As such, we hold out hope that the new administration will find success. America already was great, but if Trump’s policies can improve our lives and push the U.S. forward, that’s a welcome development.
As far as the press, Trump works for us, American taxpayers, and it’s legitimate journalism that will hold him accountable and communicate his message to the American people.