- - Thursday, January 12, 2017

When new neighbors move in, how do you welcome them. Bring over freshly-baked chocolate chip cookies, a store-bought apple pie, maybe a bottle of champagne?

Not in the liberal Chevy Chase D.C. neighborhood where Vice President-elect Mike Pence temporarily settled into a 2,500-square-foot house ahead of Inauguration Day. Instead, Mr. Pence and his family were greeted with gay pride flags in protest of the incoming administration. The neighbors in this small, affluent enclave wanted to send a message that they haven’t gotten over the election result and strongly disagree with their temporary neighbor’s views on religious liberty and gay rights.

Obviously, these neighbors have every right to express their views, but their actions only widen the country’s divisions while refusing to even consider the other side. I have met Mr. Pence and his lovely family. He is kind and thoughtful and would actually make a great neighbor. But many on the left simply can’t help themselves. He’s tagged as the enemy because he is Christian and believes in traditional values on marriage and supports religious freedoms.

Instead of welcoming the new neighbor, they protest his arrival. They denounce Republicans as intolerant yet, ironically, they are the ones who cannot tolerate dissent. They shove their liberal ideology in the face of others, in our schools and in the public square. They relentlessly pursue a progressive agenda that has been rejected by many Americans. According to a Marist poll commissioned by the Knights of Columbus, 89 percent of Americans “see protecting religious freedom as a priority.” It is the left, not the Pences, that is out of step with where most Americans are on this issue.

What a different type of welcome it would be if those Chevy Chase D.C. neighbors displayed American flags! Show pride in our nation — even if you don’t share the political views as your famous neighbor. We are Americans regardless of color, race, ethnicity or political affiliation. Our willingness to engage each other and find common ground is what has helped built this great nation.

I guess it’s the nature of living within the Beltway “bubble,” where we eat, sleep and dream politics. It is quite annoying when every conversation these days quickly turns to the election results and to how one’s liberal friends are still depressed by the result. A friend of mine who voted for Mr. Trump told me about her Chevy Chase book club where some of the women automatically assumed everyone had voted for Hillary Clinton. They were shocked when my friend and two others admitted to voting for Mr. Trump.

President Obama shed tears as he delivered his farewell address in Chicago this week, focusing heavily on the divisions in our country by color, race and religion. He talked about the white middle-aged man, the brown person and the Muslim, but never talked about the unique honor of being an American, which is the one characteristic that we all have in common. The more we remain divided by race, ethnicity and religion, the more divided we will remain as a nation.

Many in the left keep pushing this divisive identity politics, which is a failing strategy. They should embrace the principles of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who famously said that people should be judged by the “content of their character.” If the neighbors in Chevy Chase D.C. would only give Mr. Pence and his family a chance, they would quickly realize that this is a man they should be honored to have living on their block.

Mercedes Schlapp is a Fox News contributor, co-founder of Cove Strategies and former White House director of specialty media under President George W. Bush.

• Mercedes Schlapp can be reached at mschlapp@123washingtontimes.com.

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