“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” These words, written at the base of the Statue of Liberty, are also the foundation of the American dream. Almost every American can count among their ancestors someone who embodied those words, that yearning. Striving for opportunity and fairness has always been at the heart of American ideals—even if we haven’t always lived up to them. But now, Donald Trump is trying to drag America away from those ideals by sowing fear and bigotry in our communities. We must show Donald Trump that America’s small towns, cities, and suburbs will stand up for fairness and opportunity for all.
Today, we take it as a given that Americans are free to live where they want. But until recently, the legal right to choose your home and neighborhood was not a freedom enjoyed by all Americans. Restrictive deeds and covenants once barred Blacks, Jews, Asians, and LGBT people from living in certain neighborhoods, but today norms and stigmas can do the same job. The country passed laws and upheld court decisions that forbid this sort of discrimination—laws that Donald Trump violated when he refused to let certain people live in his properties. Donald is back to his old tricks, but this time he’s rolling back policies that help make our communities places of fairness and opportunity.
Discrimination is illegal, but local policies can still push working-class families and people of color out of our neighborhoods and away from opportunity. In 2015, the Obama Administration introduced policies requiring local governments seeking federal housing funds to study the unfairness of local laws that would affect working-class families and people of color. Studying and making our housing policies fairer shouldn’t be controversial, and Obama’s policy didn’t require communities to make any changes to where or what types of housing were allowed. But Donald Trump never lets fairness or decency stand in the way of helping himself.
Trump not only rolled back President Obama’s efforts to promote basic fairness, he’s now demonizing working-class families and trying to scare us into thinking violent “antifa” members are about to move in next door. Trump is trying to get us to buy into his dark vision of segregated suburbs that slam their doors in the faces of working families and people of color. As Americans, we believe in safety and opportunity for all families, regardless of their faith, socioeconomic, and ethnic background. We don’t tell people they are not welcome based on how they look or how much money they have. That’s not who we are, and we’re not going to let Donald Trump segregate our communities.
Trump has fallen back on divisive rhetoric because he is desperate to distract us from his failure to protect the American people. The real threats to our communities are coronavirus and climate change, not “antifa” invaders or working families looking for a safe place to live. Over 200,000 Americans have died from COVD-19. If not for Trump’s stunning inaction and false statements, likely tens of thousands of those people—parents, siblings, children, and friends—would still be with us today. Trump has also stayed silent as America’s West Coast has burned, causing smoke and ash to choke residents. Trump doesn’t care about these real dangers because he’s not trying to protect us. He’s trying to scare us into voting for him. And we’re not going to fall for it.
We need a president who will protect and unite us, not exploit and divide us. Donald Trump is the wrong man for that job. On November 3, I hope you’ll join me in voting for Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, and Democrats down the ballot so we can get our country back on track. With your help, we can make sure that our communities and our country remain places where everyone can breathe free.
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