Our society today is increasingly divided in unhealthy ways. Different groups of Americans are pitted against each other for political gain. In Washington, meaningful discussions have been replaced by those who would rather talk past one another than talk to one another. Consequently, we have an increasingly siloed society in which shallow stereotypes and mischaracterizations keep us from truly understanding one another’s experiences and perspectives. Most dangerously, these trends leave us increasingly incapable of solving the big challenges that our country and world face today.
Fortunately, the state of Utah serves as an example of what we can do when we work together. Our state is a unique place, one that for generations has welcomed people from all states and countries who are in search of a stronger community and a better life. Utah is a state in which we recognize that our diversity gives us strength, and that together we are stronger than we are individually. We need leaders in Congress who embody this spirit.
As the only LDS woman in Congress, I know that I don’t fit into many people’s views of what a representative should look like. And as the child of immigrant parents from Haiti, I know how uncomfortable it can be to defy expectations. I frequently receive derogatory comments from people who have trouble accepting the fact that I don’t fit in their small box. But I refuse to disappear in Congress just because I'm unique.
The same aspects of my personal background that have caused me to be dismissed by some in Washington have also helped me to build strong relationships with many members of both political parties. As the only female Republican member of the Congressional Black Caucus, I have the opportunity every day to work across the aisle on issues that are divisive but important. My faith and my belief in the humanity of every one of God’s children helps me to work with my Congressional Black Caucus colleagues on important issues like criminal justice reform. And my family’s immigrant background has helped us to find common ground helping immigrants from countries plagued by war, poverty, disease and natural disasters. I have been proud to work with many of these same colleagues pushing for a permanent bipartisan solution to protect refuges and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients.
Many of our political disagreements are important. I believe in prioritizing local governments over the federal government, lowering taxes and protecting life from conception until natural death. I am willing to fight for these ideas, even when it makes me unpopular. But our political views should not lead us to wall ourselves off from others, and they should never be used as an excuse to characterize others as irredeemable villains.
The values that Utah holds dear uniquely position us to lead the effort to better unite all Americans. I see my fellow Utahns doing exactly that on a daily basis. I join them in offering my experiences, my faith and my whole self in the service of Utah’s 4th District as we work together to cultivate a better nation and a more abundant future for our children.