Dear President Trump,
Congratulations. You just held the American government hostage for 35 days. For 35 days, federal government employees had to worry about how they were going to pay their mortgages, car payments, and grocery bills. For 35 days, our nation's security was at risk as TSA agents, border patrol, and the Coast Guard was forced to work without pay. For 35 days, our nation's museums and parks were closed to the public, spitting in the eye of the American ideal of collective ownership of nature and knowledge. For 35 days, you told Americans that you would not open the government until Congress agreed to fund your border wall.
After all of this, you walked away with nothing.
You claim that this is all in the name of ending a humanitarian crisis. You claim that the Democrats are denying your project to save the lives of Americans and prevent the endangerment of immigrants. You make these claims despite the dozens of issues that your border wall will create without actually preventing anything.
Your wall is no more than security theater, sir. Every House member that has a district along the U.S.-Mexico border opposes the idea. It seems that the wall only makes people that live far north of the border feel secure.
With that said, I don't want this letter to seem as if I am merely wanting to bash your wall. If that were the case, I would have written a more detailed rebuttal to the idea. Instead, I am wanting to plead with you to focus on a real problem, right here at home. Americans are growing more and more divided, and that is incredibly worrisome.
Recently, the widely shared video of the Native American protestor being stopped by a smirking, MAGA hat wielding teenage boy has served as the newest example of the disconnect that Americans are having with other Americans.
While the media has definitely distorted the full truth of the incident, the image that it creates still serves as a powerful message for the realities of modern America. We, the people, are no longer united to form a more perfect union. Politics have overtaken our innate identities. When we see someone wearing a MAGA hat, our impressions of them are not limited to how we view their politics. As the Washington Post points out, the MAGA hat has shifted from a statement of policy to a statement of one's identity.
This is not merely limited to the right, however. This is a problem that is splashing boiling hatred onto all of us. We are no longer able to separate a person's political beliefs from their identities as people. In the '80s, Speaker Tip O'Neil and President Reagan would argue policy for hours on end only to shift to drinking beer and trading Irish jokes. Now, Americans can't stand to be in the same room as someone that has the audacity to have a different opinion as them.
Mr. President, you have a strong role to play in this. Encourage Americans to stop being so divided, and stop encouraging such division. When you, the President of the United States, gets up and walks out of a meeting with Democratic leaders, what kind of message does that send? The American people should be encouraged to speak to people they disagree with and to come to agreements that find a compromise. Better yet, people should be encouraged to be able to separate how we feel about another person's politics from how we view them as people. We've all heard the saying "Hate the artist, love the art.
A better saying for today's times might be "Hate the politics, love the person."
Mr. President, instead of building walls, let's start by mending fences.