Donald TrumpDonald TrumpOne in three Americans say violence against government sometimes justified: poll Seven most vulnerable governors facing reelection in 2022 Sunday shows preview: Omicron surge continues; anniversary of Jan. 6 attack approaches MORE is one of the most divisive figures in the United States since the Civil War. He bears considerable responsibility for America’s disastrous response to the novel coronavirus pandemic, legitimizing white supremacy, and lies about widespread fraud in the 2020 presidential election.
Nonetheless, with two widely-publicized New Year’s resolutions, Trump could serve his country well while going a long way toward securing a more favorable legacy. Here’s how:
1) Until very recently, Trump’s endorsement of vaccines was tepid. He declined three times to be photographed while getting a jab. Vice President Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PenceThis year, Mike Pence should resolve to become our next president What my 2021 inbox reveals about the 2024 GOP race The 10 Republicans most likely to run for president MORE, by contrast, received his first shot at a live TV event. Trump was conspicuous by his absence when former presidents Carter, Clinton, Bush, Obama, and their wives participated in a public service announcement urging Americans to get vaccinated. On Aug. 21, 2021, at a rally in Cullman, Ala., Trump said, “Take the vaccine. I did. It’s good.” But when the crowd booed, he retreated: “No, that’s okay. That’s all right. You got your freedoms. But I happened to take the vaccine.”
In late December 2021, Trump, who knows how to blow his own horn, changed his tune. Trump boasted, as he had before, that the development of vaccines in record time was an “historic” achievement of his administration and urged his supporters to “take credit — we saved tens of millions of lives.” But this time, he shrugged off boos that followed his revelation that he had taken a booster shot: “Don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t, no, no. That’s — there’s a very tiny group over there.” Trump pushed back as well at conservative media personality Candace Owens: “Look, the results of the vaccine are very good, and if you do get it, it’s a very minor form. People aren’t dying when they take the vaccine.” When President BidenJoe BidenKentucky governor declares state of emergency after powerful storm Seven most vulnerable governors facing reelection in 2022 At least 20 states to increase minimum wage starting Saturday MORE credited “the prior administration and our scientific community” for making the United States one of the first countries to get the vaccine, Trump expressed surprise and appreciation: “I think he did something very good. You know it has to be a process of healing in this country, and that will help a lot.”
Trump’s first New Year’s resolution should be to double down on his efforts — in media appearances and rallies — to reduce vaccine hesitancy, which remains high among his ardent Republican supporters. He can — and certainly will — continue to claim that mandates are not the answer. But as the Omicron variant surges, Trump can…