How Donald Trump can be America's change agent

Moments from Pres. Trump's inaugural address
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    Moments from Pres. Trump's inaugural address

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Moments from Pres. Trump's inaugural address 02:08

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  • Carol M. Swain: Donald Trump's presidency has the chance to change America politically, philosophically and spiritually
  • All Americans need to give him a fair opportunity to succeed or fail, like we gave Barack Obama, she writes

Carol M. Swain is professor of political science and professor of law at Vanderbilt. She recently co-authored "Abduction: How Liberalism Steals Our Children's Hearts and Minds" with Steve Feazel, author and film-maker. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook. The views expressed in this commentary are solely hers.

(CNN)Donald J. Trump's rise to the presidency has political, philosophical and spiritual significance. Politically, it offers conservatives an opportunity to work toward the restoration of the constitutional foundations undergirding our nation. Philosophically, President Trump needs to focus on restoring the attributes we traditionally associate with classical liberalism. These include a commitment to free speech, individual liberty, limited government, free markets, free assembly and the rule of law. Spiritually, Mr. Trump's election represents an answer to the prayers Americans who are concerned about the decline of American power in the world, the loss of their jobs, threats to their commitment to Judeo-Christian principles, attacks on police and the failure that is Obamacare.

Carol Swain
As president, Donald Trump has an opportunity to reset the course of our nation to make it better and stronger. He can do this by rewriting the rules of interactions between individuals, political groups, lobbyists and bureaucrats. I am hopeful that as President, Donald Trump will be the agent of change that so many of his supporters believed he could be when they voted for him.
Critical to his success will be continued outreach to groups and individuals who appreciate the uniqueness of America and the positive impact it has had on the world. As Americans, we have always striven to correct the injustices of the past. When we make mistakes, and we have made plenty, we try to make amends.
Making America great again, as Trump has pledged to do, does not imply a return to the days of segregation and barefoot, pregnant women. To me, making American great again offers the hope of a society where it is possible for a high-school dropout and teen mom like me to attain the American dream. It is about creating a society where we can rise above the circumstances of our birth.
Mr. Trump has already begun to made great strides with African-Americans. He is a truth speaker. Anyone who has watched him speak in town hall meetings and inner-city black churches (as I have) can see that he connects with people in those communities. He has empathy for the mothers who lose their children to crime and drugs and understands the need for better jobs and opportunities.
He has an unprecedented chance to break the stranglehold Democrats have had over the black community. However, improving race relations will entail looking beyond bastions of political correctness on campus and in Congress.
We must change course to help low-income people, as past strategies have failed. Often we have worsened economic issues by making people dependent on government. For those willing to make an effort, there are people, partners, churches and other institutions willing to offer financial help.
As I have said before, people feel good about themselves when they can work and provide for their families.
True change in race relations will involve a new approach to civil rights. There is a pressing need to recognize and acknowledge the rights of white people. Many are struggling economically and have genuine worries about their personal safety and rising animosity against them. Every American should be concerned about the increased mortality rates in the white community that has resulted in early deaths from suicide, drug abuse and other preventable causes.
Mr. Trump has his work cut out for him. He is facing much opposition from the political left who have not accepted his transition to power. During the next 100 days, he should begin the arduous task of reversing many of President Obama's executive orders, administrative statements and regulations.
Additionally, he should consider establishing an independent commission to review the report of the US Commission on Immigration Reform chaired by Barbara Jordan in the 1990s. Part of this new commission's charge should be to rethink our nation's approach to legal and illegal immigration writ large. In devising a solution, it behooves us to draw on the experiences of people who crafted the unsuccessful 1986 immigration reform bill and look abroad at the immigration disaster in Europe. What can we learn from the Europeans? Protecting the needs and interests of Americans should be our number one goal.
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There is a place for federal and state authority. President Trump must address public education and the need to return power to the states. Vouchers and charter schools must be allowed to be part of the solution for education reform.
Finally, President Trump needs the support of all Americans. We need to give him a fair opportunity to succeed or fail, like we gave Barack Obama.