Notes to the nominee: Three things Donald Trump can do and say to own the debate stage
The good thing about being a different kind of candidate running a different kind of political campaign is this: you can do different kinds of things when it comes to debates. You do not have to do what the moderator wants you to do, but instead what the American people need and want to hear.
First, corruption. Donald Trump can say, “Hillary, I’ll take it at your word that when you and your husband left the Oval Office, you were – as you put it – “broke.” I want to know, the American people should know, how it is that you and your husband have since earned over $230 million? Since you left graduate school, the two of you have either been running for office or been in office. The media doesn’t seem interested in the question. But the American people deserve an answer. Too many of our public servants are getting rich trading on their political connections. It’s not just you, Hillary. Let’s take Senator Tom Daschle and Senator Trent Lott – who spent their entire lives in Congress. They are now rich men. I could go on and on. The American people are tired of their public servants coming to Washington penniless, and leave office and become multimillionaires. It isn’t just wrong. It’s offensive. That’s what’s bugging the American people. That’s why so many of the people are angry. Because our government isn’t working for us. We’re working for our government. And so I ask – Hillary – you and your husband have earned $230 million in the past 15 years. What did you risk? What did you build? How many jobs did you create?”
Second, change. Donald Trump can say, “Americans believe this country is headed in the wrong direction. They are working harder than ever. Many haven’t seen a pay raise in a decade. Many have seen their pay go down. And others still – record numbers – are out of the workforce entirely. And there’s a reason. Taxes and regulations continue to pile up on American businesses, and small businesses in particular. The government is sucking the life out of American life – and America’s paychecks. The global economy you and your husband love, the trade deals you and your husband supported, they have worked for some people in this country. But those deals are not working for most of the people. That’s what this election is all about. The economy is working for the financial and global elites – but not for the rest of America. Not for the hard working tax payers of this country.”
Third, the War on Reality. Donald Trump can say, “I want to talk about something more Americans are feeling every day. That President Obama and Hillary Clinton – and the media doing the reporting – do not live in the world the rest of us live in. They keep telling us the economy is good. But the American people know that’s wrong. Millions of hard working Americans haven’t seen a pay raise in years. Seniors are suffering, as their savings and a lifetime of planning have been battered by the 0% interest policy of the Federal Reserve. Some are being forced to sell off assets just to survive. Young people are graduating college with record levels of debt, and bleak job prospects. African Americans are suffering too, with unemployment levels that are simply unacceptable. Rather than declare war on this economic stagnation, President Obama and Hillary Clinton – and our media elites – have declared war on reality itself. We have real problems, the biggest being the threat within our country we must stop: the never ending expansion of the bureaucratic state. As our government gets bigger, as taxes and regulations pile up, our economy gets smaller. So do our paychecks. And our dreams. The next President needs to understand these things. Because you can’t lead a people if you don’t listen to them. If you don’t understand them.”
Last, Donald Trump needs to tell the American people who he is, and why he’s running. How he will grow jobs in America. How he has created jobs all over America. How taking risks – and not government – is what creates jobs.
He should talk about the kind of people he works with every day. Hard working people of every race, age, ethnicity and sexual orientation all over the country working in jobs that he created. Electricians, plumbers, carpenters, and contractors. He spent his life building things, and watched the country he loves lose its way. He watched government bureaucracies make it harder for people to build things, to grow their businesses.
Donald Trump needs to tell the people that we need more private citizens to serve this country who build things. We need more builders of things, more small business owners, more chief executives, more physicians, and fewer lawyers. Fewer lawyers – and Hillary and Bill are both lawyers – who come to Washington only to leave and become richer because of their service. Hilary has never had to worry about making payroll every week the way job creators do.
We need public servants who come to Washington serve their country, not themselves. We need public servants with the courage to shake things up, and disrupt the status quo, if needed. To solve problems. And then return to their old lives.
That’s a story the American people need to hear. That’s a story many Americans will love.
Bernie Marcus is founder of the Marcus Foundation and retired co-founder of the Home Depot. Mr. Marcus retired from Home Depot almost 15 years ago and is no longer active in the company.