Mr. President, tear down these walls. We, the people—red, blue, or other—have had at least two years of accusations, name calling, hate statements, distrust, and suspicion before November’s election. With your inauguration January 20, Donald John Trump, we need to move forward together—without the walls. We’re not all going to agree with your policies—about half of us will go each way, it seems, all the more so with the strong, controversial appointments you’ve made to your Cabinet and staff. But great democracies, such as ours, move forward with unified purpose. We all must find a way to move ahead. Here are 10 areas that demand your leadership.
Appeal to our best instincts. We are not a hateful people, but we saw plenty of people stepping out of bounds, especially as the political race became heated. Where on earth did people get the notion that it is all right to be disrespectful of people of a different ethnicity, race, country, religion, or sexual orientation? We have a way to go, but tolerance of people not like us is one of the hallmarks of our already-great America.
Promote the sanctity of human life. Use your Supreme Court appointments, when they come up, to appoint justices who will not be afraid to revisit abortion, but who also will honor human life in all its other stages. Use your influence with a sympathetic Congress to promote laws that protect us from physician-assisted suicide. We Catholics, among other people of good will, honor life from conception to natural death. Lead us in ways that affirm that.
Emphasize equal rights for women. Let’s put the excesses of campaign revelations behind us. Show respect for women. Our society, our government, needs to ensure that every woman is valued as a full citizen, a full human being, with a right to lead in any forum that a man can. All our institutions, Church and State, have some work to do here. We want our leadership to tune in to the good sense of the people.
Heal racial divisions. Many Americans nurtured the fantasy that racism was behind us. Not so. Honorable police feel betrayed by public horror at the misdeeds of their cohorts. African American citizens fear for their lives when being stopped for traffic violations. Any number of ethnic groups are feeling singled out. Racism breeds in a climate of anger and distrust. We Americans need strong, clear, correct signals from the highest levels of government that racism is a plague we must eradicate.
Address the growing gun violence in our country while protecting our Second Amendment rights. Yes, in some rural areas, there are dangerous animals to contend with. Gun enthusiasts love the sportsmanship of hunting or practicing marksmanship. But the presence of semiautomatic weapons, or guns available to children, or guns flooding our streets, must stop. That means restrictions, whether the National Rifle Association likes it or not.
Make environmental care a top priority. Listen to Pope Francis’ lead here. His teachings, especially “Laudato Si’,” show us how clearly the state of the environment, which has a profound effect on people worldwide, cries to be taken seriously.
Alleviate college debt. A businessman such as you gets this: our young people deserve to aspire to greatness without being saddled with excessive debt.
Make progress for everyone. A massive employment program could rebuild our nation’s infrastructure. This will need to be more than trickle-down. We need to find a way to share the wealth of this land beyond the billionaires.
Reform the Affordable Care Act. Most of us know this act needs to be fixed, not abandoned. Affordable health care is a basic human right, welcomed now by millions.
Cultivate a culture of civility and respect for all people. If one characteristic were to mark your presidency, Mr. Trump, oh, that it would be this one. The others will follow.