Progressive Views: Letter to My Republican Friends

by Cindy Offutt
for the “Progressive Views” column, Boerne Star, July 12, 2019

 A turquoise colored quill pen on a pile of blank envelopes
“Eine türkis farbige Schreibfeder auf einem Stapel Briefe” by Marco Verch is licensed under CC-BY 2.0

Dear Republican Friends,

We Democrats grow evermore weary of being harangued by folks on your side.  In your playbook, we are not allowed to demonize, denigrate or disrespect your views and actions, lest we cross a line – albeit from an opposing direction – that folks on your side casually cross almost daily.

Take the current president, the man you voted for and the man most, if not all, of you continue to support so fiercely.  When announcing his intention to run for president in 2020, President Trump demonized, denigrated and disrespected all his usual enemies, e.g., Robert Mueller, Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, the “enemy of the people” media, and immigrants. 

And of course, as is his habit, he went after Democrats with his customary bluster, rage and self-righteousness.  Yet again, this president depicted Democrats as un-American and unpatriotic.  Democrats, he ranted, “want to destroy you and they want to destroy our country as we know it.”

I have been friends with some of you for only a short time – with others, for nearly a lifetime.  These days, however, it’s become increasingly difficult to sustain some of those friendships as you shrug and falsely deny, or look away and seek to excuse the effect your man in the White House is having on the character of our nation and the prospect for our souls.

Trump is wrong.  I do not want to destroy you, though there are times when I am sorely tempted to liken you to a boil that needs lancing.  Nor do I hate you, though at times like this, it can certainly be a struggle not to give in to hate.

And I most emphatically do not want to destroy this country – which is, by the way, that very same country that between the two of us, my husband and I spent a total of over 40 years in the military to defend.

That said, I do hold you responsible for putting a man in the White House whose shameful policies include separating children from their parents and locking them in cages as if they were less-than-human.

And I do hold you responsible for continuing to rally behind this president, even as he lies about his separation and detention policies and blames others for his extreme, over-zealous execution of those policies.  Trump may not be the first president to implement deterrence, but he is the first president to take it to such dishonorable and brutal extremes.

And no, FOX-viewers, it’s not the same thing as a crowded house party! (See Brian Kilmead, 2 July 2019)

The thing you seem unable or unwilling to acknowledge is that the separations, the misery, the suffering – none of it is accidental.  To the contrary, these are precisely Trump’s point.  His policies are very deliberate – and to hell with desperate families and children.  (This from the party that imagines itself pro-family, pro-Christian and pro-life.)

Thing is, seeking asylum is not a crime.  And deterrence has never worked, not the way the president disingenuously claims it will. Deterrence just makes desperate people evermore desperate.  And desperate people will almost always take evermore desperate measures to get to safety and a better chance at a better life for their families (which is, last time I checked, what America is supposed to be all about).

With Trump at the helm and Trumpism all the rage, the morality and character of our nation are spiraling downward.   It is you and your president who are responsible for this. 

It’s true.  By any objective standard, our immigration and asylum systems clearly need fixing, to include both border security and humane treatment.

However, it’s equally clear that the hurdles to doing so are strictly political and largely Republican.  Your leadership understands they need to use issues like immigration to get you all wound-up so you’ll keep voting Republican, even if doing so is not in your best interest.

Is this really the country you want – a country that takes children from their parents (our criminal process calls this kidnapping), then holds those children in overcrowded internment camps without soap, toothbrushes or adequate access to toilets (our laws define this as child abuse)?  The fact that the Trump administration inflicts this intentional cruelty is certainly not the country we should be.  We have been and should be better than that.

What we Democrats want is to see your man Trump – and your Trumpist ideology – soundly defeated at the ballot box in 2020, silenced by the moral clarity of a majority of Americans who recognize that Trump’s America is neither the real America nor a great America.  Come 2020, we can and will reclaim our country.

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