I’m writing to you as the nation reflects on the legacy of an American hero — the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. — and am aware of the stark contrast that your upcoming presidency presents. After all, your campaign rejected so much of King’s vision for America by appealing to the unwarranted fears many Americans hold about immigrants, multiculturalism, and the nation’s recent gains towards equality.
Sterling Washington — File photo
The optimist in me would love to be pleasantly surprised by your presidency because it means the country would continue moving towards progress. Specifically, I’d like to see your Justice Department pursue federal hate crimes charges against domestic terrorists who violate Americans’ civil rights under the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. Both of President Obama’s Attorneys General took this seriously, which I as a Black gay man truly appreciated. By contrast, Senator Sessions, your pick for Attorney General, voted against the act. Leadership is important and nominating Sessions sends the message that bigotry is once again acceptable in America.
Also, your flip-flopping on climate change has been nauseating. By contrast, the outgoing President has been a leader on this issue. When faced with a Congress that refused to act on this most critical of issues, President Obama ratified the Paris Climate Accord, established a Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience, cut greenhouse gas emissions, and issued executive orders that would protect the environment. As a person of faith, I believe in protecting the natural resources that we have inherited for future generations and thank the President for his actions. It’s worth noting that as he achieved these historic environmental protections, the economy grew and unemployment fell, despite detractors’ claims that going green would kill the economy and jobs.
With respect to killing jobs, the Republican-controlled Congress would undermine Americans’ health and destroy myriad jobs if it repeals the Affordable Care Act. You support such an effort, even though your party has no viable plan to replace it. According to a December 2016 Kaiser Family Foundation poll, more Americans support expanding the ACA or leaving it as is than support repeal or scaling it back. Listen to the people by expanding it or at least leaving it alone!
You will soon learn that campaigning is easier than governing. As your presidency begins, I pray that you heed Dr. King’s words from a 1964 speech at Oberlin College: “It’s always the right time to do the right thing.” As President, you will have countless opportunities to do the right thing.
Your campaign and transition have overwhelmingly played to the worst of our nature, but you can change that. It would be wise to do so. Remember, your Electoral College victory and popular vote loss have galvanized progressives, and we will pressure our representatives to vote according to America’s interests, not yours. Moreover, there are enough Democrats, Independents, and Republican allies in the Senate to thwart the worst of your agenda.
Former Director, Mayor’s Office of GLBT Affairs @straws73
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