What I wish the US president said

A version of this article was published as a Letter to the Editor in the Hood River News, under the heading “A civil voice” (October 31, 2018)

When calling for national unity, in the wake of bombs targeting political rivals, the US president could have said:

“Fellow Americans:

Recent events are a wake-up call. We cannot settle political differences through violence. We must return to dialogue and civility, as we face severe challenges that can only be addressed collaboratively. Such return, I realize, starts with me.

The bombs are an extreme, but not isolated, unintended consequence of a divisive and dangerous rhetoric that I must take responsibility for normalizing. I left ego and ambition mislead me. For that, I am sorry. I must now help correct our course. Therefore:

(1) Starting now, I will act as the President of all Americans, regardless of race, color, gender, ethnicity, buying power, sexual orientation, national origin, and religious and political preference.

(2) I will not seek re-election. In the remaining of my term, I will promote transformative political reform informed by the American citizenry and consistent with the “government by and for the People” concept.

(3) I ask Congress to act in a bipartisan manner to pass legislation that facilitates political reform, starting with term limits for House and Senate members and with electoral mechanisms that favor a plural representation of political views in Congress.

(4) Until such reform is accomplished, I will not sign into law legislation passed along partisan lines. Legislation must result from consensus across the aisle, and must stand the test of changing majorities.

(5) I ask the press to support this national effort of reconciliation, while remaining free and objective as required in a democracy.

(6) To those who have seen in my example a license for acting with intolerance and hatred: Stop! Nothing justifies your behavior, not now, not ever.

To those whom I have insulted or denigrated as candidate and president, I apologize. I will seek redemption at your eyes, and the eyes of the world. Together, we will become a stronger and more caring nation.

Sadly, but true to form, the president instead (and once again) deflected responsibility. Political reform and national reconciliation thus remain up to us, the voters.

Please vote!

— Antonio Baptista

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