I listened to Donald Trump talk unity during the State of the Union address Tuesday, and all I could think about was the way he got into office — by cutting through our unity like a hot knife through butter.
And as I watched him go after immigrants — first by using the tears of grieving families and then by pledging to close loopholes that bring criminals to our country — my anger turned to laughter.
Because I wondered how we could close the loophole that allows fools to be voted into office? How do we close the loophole to keep the president off Twitter? How do we close the loophole that makes it possible for this dude to golf when he’s supposed to be working? How do we close the loophole that allows Ben Carson and Omarosa to pretend they represent my community?
Trump said during his speech that he would sign a bill to put America first. And I hope he keeps that promise. Because putting America first means knowing who Americans are. Americans are the working poor whose wages won’t sustain a family, but whose prayers sustain their hope. Americans are resilient people whose neighborhoods are crumbling, but whose hearts are strong. Americans are loving people who come from the toughest ‘hoods but work for the public good.
Those are the Americans who are going to rebuild this country. People of all colors, people of all ages, people of all parties. People who believe in the power of common decency and who work toward uncommon dreams.
They won’t be people who believe a judge can’t do his job because he’s Mexican-American. They won’t be people who describe African countries as shitholes.
No, the Americans who will rebuild this country are right now in a public school classroom, working twice as hard as the rich kids. The Americans who will rebuild this country are in a house with no heat, writing rhymes that will change the world. The Americans who will rebuild this country are living in the barrio, stepping over needles and knowing they’ll get out — not to abandon their people, but to come back and make a change.
Last night I watched a man who said our greatness came from building walls. No, Mr. President. Our greatness comes from building bridges. Last night I watched a man who said our safety comes from weapons. No. Mr. President. Our safety comes from God. Last night I watched a man who said our openness leaves us vulnerable. No, Mr. President. Our openness gives us hope.
Unlike Donald Trump, we know our greatest threat doesn’t come from another country. No, our greatest threat is already here. And he’s lying to us in speeches, dividing us through policy, destroying us though hate. But in the midterm elections, when the people rise up and vote to neutralize that threat, that’s when we’ll see the state of our union, because that’s when the state of our union will be strong.