As I write this, the election has not yet occurred; however, when you read this, the election—hopefully—will have been decided. I consider this a message to the new administration, whoever they may be. I speak from my professional perspective as a psychologist (I am not speaking for my profession however).
One, although you have won this election, remember that you also govern those who did not vote for you. Consider their concerns.
Two, just as in couples and families, the optimal way to resolve conflict is through honest, open communication, and agreeing to disagree. Violence is never appropriate in families; work to make it intolerable between nations as well.
Dialog and diplomacy is part of the continuum of communication and connection that is the basis of family life. If you as leader claim family values, consider that respectful communication and dialog is of utmost importance all the way from the individual to the national to the global level.
Three, if you claim support for our troops then give them and their families the mental health care they need. You are facing an untreated epidemic of post traumatic stress disorders among the military and their families. If not addressed now, divorces, addiction, suicides , and other mental health problems will continue to occur for generations.
If you find it difficult to be empathic towards the military’s mental health needs, then be pragmatic—money spent now will save the government money down the road. Don’t be penny wise and pound foolish, yet again.
Four, attend to the children. Brain development in the first three years of life is critical for mental and physical health. Provide the means for all children to have the programs they need for healthy development. And, yes, that quintessential capitalist, no socialist he, Adam Smith advised that the rich had a responsibility to distribute their wealth.
Five, develop and model a respect and care for those less fortunate than yourself. Model an inclusiveness that welcomes diversity. Remember that the United States is indeed a world of many cultures and that we are all “real.” Model a respect based on how we are more alike than different. Eschew the antiquated us-them mentality. Lead the way in this and you may be surprised at how many others may follow suit.
Six, lead the way, too, in recognizing how the United States has led the way in intellectual and scientific pursuits. Don’t dumb us down, bring us up! You may not know exactly how fruit flies are immensely important in genetic and medical research, just respect those scientists that do and let them get on with their work. Oh, and recognize that evolutionary theory is part and parcel of modern science and medicine.
Seven, recognize and lead the way for the world to recognize the inter-connectedness of all life and how the natural world must be protected. Global warming is a reality. You have so many brilliant people in this wide country who can inform you about all the alternatives and possibilities for new energy sources. Wow, Texas as one giant solar grid to electrify the Eastern seaboard. Why not convince the oil barons to move into investing in the twenty-first century?
Eight, for all the talk of religion—particularly Christianity—during this campaign, how about focusing on the Beatitudes instead of the Commandments? How inclusive and full of values would that be—it would seem the Beatitudes are a model to live by in any religion—Judaism, Buddhism, Muslim, Christian. Who could argue with those words of compassion and care? What a wondrous transformation that would be in the White House.
Well, there’s more, but eight is a good number to start with. The New Millennium awaits!