Political dysfunction is borne out of false choice, and that false choice is exacerbated by a two-party system that increasingly uses dehumanizing language about political opponents in order to rally their respective bases. And we get away with it because we often don’t know any better. We occupy two different factual realities. These are realities reinforced by geographical divides, and informed by media consumption habits that affirm our preconceived ideas about the world. We must commit to the hard work necessary for overcoming these deep-seated, misinformed ideas about one another in pursuit of our collective happiness and progress.
Divisions that exist across political differences are further compounded by our country’s history of racial injustice. A major step toward political unity is a commitment to reconciling with the truth of the nation’s role in marginalizing people on the basis of race, gender, and socioeconomic status.
How a Congressional Truth & Reconciliation Caucus can bridge the left-right divide
A nonpartisan coalition in the US House of Representatives through a Congressional Truth and Reconciliation Caucus can begin to repair trust by reconciling with the complete truth of our nation’s history. So many Americans—myself included—have an incomplete understanding of how our nation’s past traumas continue to perpetuate systemic injustices that disproportionately impact Black and Brown Americans today.
You don’t need to look much further than the list of cosponsors for Congresswoman Barbara Lee’s (D-Calif.) resolution calling for the establishment of the first United States Commission on Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation to see how divided we are on this topic. The resolution has 166 cosponsors, all from the Democratic arm of our political system. No Republicans have joined as cosponsors.
Even more recently, the Trump administration on September 22 through an executive order prohibited the teaching of elements of critical race theory in workplace diversity training at the federal level. This demonstrates a large knowledge gap between our nation’s two major parties that must be closed in order to pursue meaningful, lasting change around systemic injustices.
This proposed caucus recognizes the work of existing Congressional bodies like the Congressional Black Caucus, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Congressional Caucus for Women’s Issues, and Congressional LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus that have identified solutions to the problem of disenfranchisement in those respective communities across the country. The Truth and Reconciliation Caucus would serve as a supplemental body to those caucuses by helping to educate and inform large swaths of the population who are currently disengaged on the topic.
The caucus would work in conjunction with co-members for devising guiding principles for promoting a safe space for storytelling and hearing from marginalized voices. The caucus would also seek testimony from historians, archivists, genealogists, activists, religious leaders, citizens and more for making visible the oppressive effects of an invisible system. If we do the work of listening and asking questions, we can create a new shared perspective on American history and co-sponsor legislative solutions in tandem with other caucuses that bridge the partisan divide.