An Open Letter to Paul Ryan

Speaker Ryan,

I’m writing you today to ask you to please consider the implications of the steps that President Trump has taken with regards to immigration.

I understand your reluctance to object to his actions. You have been working for your entire career to achieve your economic policy agenda and you have this one moment where it looks like it might finally be possible. There is this small window where you can actually implement the changes that you believe will truly help this country. The notion of giving up that window must be nearly impossible to consider.

But you stand in a pivotal role at a key moment in history. I believe that you didn’t want the job you now possess. I know there are those who believe that your reluctance to take the Speakership was a carefully orchestrated theater to get you into the position. I don’t believe that. I honestly think that you were far more comfortable and happy as the person behind the scenes who could drive the policy agenda without needing to deal with the responsibilities of the Speakership.

But you took the job. The responsibility is yours. The power is yours. You are perhaps the only one who can stand up to President Trump when he does things like attempt to ban Muslims from coming to the country. And let’s not pretend that this isn’t what he’s trying to do. It’s clear that this policy originated in his original campaign promise to ban Muslims. He’s slapped a veneer on it, but it’s clear what the intent of this action is.

I can see the logic of staying out of this. You can look at the action and say that it’s only temporary. You can believe that courts will strike it down. Why should you risk incurring the President’s wrath when in the big picture the number of people this will directly affect seems small? Why should you throw away this tiny window to achieve what you’ve wanted for something temporary?

Because people are being hurt, our country is being hurt, and this won’t be the last time.

There is a real human toll that is being taken because of this action. There are families that will be ripped apart; people who risked their lives to help this country won’t be able to find sanctuary here; people will die. I don’t want to seem dramatic here, because I do understand that there are life or death consequences to many decisions that you make. But don’t ignore the pain that you are allowing because you are seeking a greater good.

Because there will be a judgement for this. Perhaps in two and four years when there are elections being held. Perhaps in twenty or forty when our children or their children look on us with disgust for allowing this to occur. Perhaps in eternity before a Divine Judge. We are sacrificing our values. We are sacrificing what we love about this country. We are sacrificing our souls. And were are doing all of this out of fear. Our country has done this before and we survived, but how many more times can we fail our ideals before they begin to lose meaning?

Because you will face this dilemma again. I am writing the letter to you and not to the President because I believe, I hope, that you hold what is best for the country above what is best for yourself. Slogans aside, I don’t believe the same can be said for the President, and I think you can’t honestly say that you disagree. His whims again force us into a situations where our principles are compromised. At some point you will have to choose to stand up to him, to draw a line and say that we as a country believe in certain fundamental truths.

Or you will be complicit. You took the job. The responsibility is yours. The power is yours.

What I’m asking you to do is not easy. You will be sacrificing something that is incredibly valuable to you, and something that you believe is valuable to the country as whole. But we are facing an issue that is larger than tax policy and health care reform. I know that’s difficult to believe after you have devoted your life to these issues. And perhaps your calculations will tell you that this issue isn’t enough to override everything you’ve worked fore. And maybe that will be true of the next challenge as well. And the next. But if you have to sell the soul of this country to achieve what you want, the price is too high.

-An American Citizen