Letter to Senator Lankford on Incoming Trump Administration
Several weeks ago, you were on TV on Flashpoint talking about race relations. You have a simple practice that you talked about called Solutions Sundays where you encourage people to share a meal with someone of a different race. This struck a chord with me, not just because I love food, but also because I believe sharing a meal with someone is definitely an effective way to have a constructive conversation. Solution Sunday sounds like a good opportunity to open our minds to learn about people that are different than us. Today being Thanksgiving, I thought it was appropriate to use Solution Sundays as a spring board for constructive conversation with you.
As a left-leaning registered independent that has not been involved much in politics before, I must admit that I labeled you unfairly as just another conservative Republican. But after researching for this letter, I think we have plenty in common. And so it is my hope that I can appeal to a practical side of you that I have mistakenly ignored in the past in an attempt to convince you to at least consider hearing my concerns about the incoming Trump administration.
You have not hidden your opinions that Trump is not the ideal candidate to be president. You have said that he is not the kind of role model you want for your daughters. I can absolutely respect your decision to support the Republican candidate anyway considering what it might mean for other positions such as the Supreme Court. I had similar thoughts with my vote. I certainly hope you vote to approve a justice who can be a role model to your daughters and doesn’t present the same dilemma you had with voting for Trump. If you and I have the same concerns about Trump, I’ll be willing to bet you and I have similar concerns about the people he has chosen to have around him. And I hope your vote reflects those concerns.
I don’t need to name names or apply labels. That would unproductive. I just want to be assured that you are holding true to the values you appear to promote. For example, I know that foster care and adoption are important to you. So I want to know what it says to you if some members in the White House would consider a black foster child to be less worthy than a white foster child.
Your stance on antipoverty is also something I agree with. I watched your Heriltage Foundation speech. You stressed the importance of equal opportunity – even ensuring that uplifting help is given so that others may share in the opportunities that you and I are so privileged and blessed to have. So I want to know what it says to you if members of the White House might think that the only way for our country to thrive is to nurture and favor European descendants over all others.
You said in your speech that poverty is a hard problem – one that needs to be tackled up close. Is it possible that refugees from across the globe have a problem that might be more understood up close too? So what does it say about us as a country if we keep those in need at arm’s length out of fear? In your speech, you pointed to what I assume is a dilapidated house (the YouTube video didn’t show what you pointed to) and you asked, “Who lives there? What have I done to make sure they have the same opportunity I had?” The whole world is watching the atrocities in the Middle East where ordinary people are the worst affected. What are we doing to ensure they have the same opportunities we have? Isn’t that something the US has been known to be a leader in?
You also said, “With our free market system, we have allowed people to have opportunities to be able to escape poverty. But if it’s not allowed for everybody in every place, that’s a bad thing.” Does it seem odd to you that many of the policies we hear from the incoming administration are often EXCLUSIVE rather than INCLUSIVE? “America first”, “European descendants first”, “immigrant deportation”. I’ve heard several times Trump say that he wants to be president for all Americans, and then he appoints people with histories that appear to benefit only Americans who look the same as the policy-makers. Don’t those sound like policies that are restricting the same opportunities “for everybody in every place”? Isn’t that the opposite of what Solution Sundays stand for?
Lastly, it would be an understatement to say that you draw motivation in your life from your faith. With policies that come from the White House along the lines of “European descendants first”, “America first”, “walls to keep outsiders out”, “no healthcare unless you can pay”, and “tax relief for only the rich”, I have trouble finding the Christ-like virtues there.
After getting to know you a bit more, I think you and I differ less than I previously assumed. I’m sure we still have conflicting opinions about many things. But if our more immediate concerns about the incoming Trump administration are the same, I hope your vote is not confined to party lines, and that you continue the tradition of charitable, inclusive, diverse values that America is proudly known for.
Happy Thanksgiving. You are always welcome at my table.