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To my Conservative friends, yes, including my longtime friend Donald Trump, I have a prayer. The idea that we can learn from our mistakes in the past and not repeat them.

I was proud to be one of the most vocal protesters of the Iraq War. My liberal friend, Bobby Shriver, said maybe I shouldn’t go on Good Morning America the day before our American troops entered Iraq. A Conservative friend jokingly referred to me as a “f***** ass yogi” and said I wouldn’t have any of the liberties I had if not for the strength and reserve of tougher Americans like him who had the courage to use the military when necessary. I sat a little shaken and guessed that there had to have been times that his attitude was right. When President Bush was elected, like most progressives, first I felt the election was stolen, but within days I prayed for the President and hoped he would deliver on promises to unite and uplift our nation. When the Saddam Hussein statue came tumbling down, with people cheering in the streets in Iraq, I felt proud that maybe he made the right decision. What I’m saying is, I gave him a chance. 

With this spirit, dialogue and cooperation is possible. A good example is about a year ago, I had a conversation with my friend, Roger Ailes, about America’s obsession with locking up non-violent drug users. I shared my thoughts on how these people are being educated in violent, criminal behavior and being dumped back into our communities as criminals. He’s a good listener, so much so that while I thought these people should be in rehab, he at least conceded that “maybe they be separated from the violent population.” Maybe next we can talk about them in rehab. That was progress. Perhaps it was small, but it was progress. I see Republicans and Democrats in some states uniting against Citizens United. More of this kind of cooperation is needed. 

When you learn to love, or at least respect the other person, you can hear them and their perspectives more clearly and come to either agree or compromise. Some of the tweets and statements made by still angry Liberals and extremely distressed Conservatives (especially in the past 48 hours) are so disruptive and hurtful that they threaten to further divide this great union. Our first mission must be to bring together a nation that is deeply divided.

No economist can tell us that Obama’s or Ryan’s economic plans are completely right or completely wrong, so certainly most of us bickering can’t either. To our Conservative leadership, let’s agree to either give our President a chance, or be fair in negotiation. Let’s put the people first and work towards healing the country.

Namaste (means the god in me recognizes the god in you).

~Russell Simmons 

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