American politics is at an impasse. We have a president who told his supporters he’d make Mexico pay for a giant wall and now he has shut down the government for what could be a very long time, keeping some 800,000 workers from getting paid indefinitely, in order to try to force a first round of funding for his pet project built out of xenophobic and racist dreams which remains unpopular with the American people all because, as we all knew, Mexico isn’t paying a penny for it. And neither should we.
A Trump History Lesson
Let’s go back to early 2018 when Trump decided to hold DACA and the so-called “Dreamers” futures in the US hostage in order to secure funding not only for his border wall but also to get several other hard-line immigration policies that would turn the US into an anti-immigrant nation. Trump demanded it was his way or the highway. In January of that year Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer offered Trump some $20 billion for his wall in exchange for a pathway to citizenship for the dreamers, Trump refused and the government was briefly shutdown. Then in February a bipartisan deal was reached for full funding ($25 billion) of Trump’s wall plus a few changes to immigration policy in exchange for legislation on making the dreamers status in this country permanent. Trump went all out against this, despite Democrats again offering him funding of his wall, and it was actually Republicans in the Senate, spurred on my Trump’s disapproval of it, who rejected the immigration package. Trump and the Republicans were actually strongly against the deal that would have given Trump full funding for his wall! That is amazing considering the situation we find the nation in now just 10 months later!
Trump refused his wall and a huge political win for himself because he couldn’t bare the thought of allowing the Democrats, and immigrants, a win that would be popular with the American people, and because he apparently thought he should simply be given every last thing he demanded no matter how extreme and out of touch with American historical and current ideals they were. Now less than a year later he finds himself in a last ditch scenario in which he has personally shut down the government and is literally refusing to pay 800,000+ American federal workers indefinitely, in order to secure just a fifth of the money that was offered to him and voted for by the Democrats. All of this because he is again insisting that he simply be given everything he wants without compromise, otherwise he’ll make America suffer, and suffer Americans are under his watch, as nearly a million workers go without pay with no idea when they will be paid again.
Trump was given plenty of opportunity in early 2018 to gain full funding for his wall by holding hostage the fates of immigrants living in America who haven’t done anything wrong, but it wasn’t enough for him. He played his hand and failed hard, getting nothing, setting himself up for a much weaker hand this winter, and with Democrats back in charge of half of Congress. Now, like a cornered animal, Trump is lashing out and attacking America in a desperate attempt to get what he wants when everybody is saying there is no way it is happening. Trump now has a history of holding America hostage when he doesn’t get his way, but his hand has gotten weaker. If Democrats give him what he wants he will claim victory and we can fully expect him to be even more brazen the next time he holds America hostage to his demands.
Don’t Feed The Baby
You don’t negotiate with terrorists. Parents don’t give a temper-tantrum throwing toddler whatever they want. If you want to get a bully to back off you don’t give them what they want when they bully you. And we don’t negotiate with a president who would hold the government and the country hostage for his unpopular and ineffective pet project that stands against the time honored values of this country.
So far Nancy Pelosi has stood resolute in her stance that Congress will give zero dollars to fund Trump’s wall. That is the only reasonable and responsible stance to take and Democrats must hold the line for America. There can be other concessions given in a negotiated compromise, like more money for border security and ports of entry in general (but not Trump’s wall), since border security is a priority of both parties anyway and it allows Trump to go back to his base and proclaim to them that he “secured” the border with billions in funding, and if he stops talking about a wall they’ll likely forget all about it. But it would be very dangerous to give an inch to Trump and his hard-line radical anti-immigrant ideas that would have America turning her back on that which makes us great and erecting walls between our values and our future.
Trump Playing Games
The wall to Trump is not about making America safer or greater. It is a purely political game he is playing, which is the only game he has played since he started campaigning over three years ago.
Notice him oscillating between saying its mostly democrats that are furloughed by the shutdown (with the implication that this means he doesn’t care about them and that Democrats in Congress should somehow care more than they already do) and saying that the workers not being paid support him and want to keep not getting paid (as if!) until he gets his wall funding — of course these two claims he has made are as usual based on zero facts and are completely contradictory to boot!
Notice Trump trying different words like saying people should call it a fence or something else if they want instead of a wall, which doesn’t change what it actually is. He also last week told members of Congress (following a long profanity-laced rant by him) that he wants to rebrand the shutdown by telling Congress he would prefer is they call it a strike and to not say shutdown anymore — obviously he wants people thinking that this is American workers refusing to get paid until Trump gets his personal pet project funded, rather than the reality that Trump shutdown the government and is refusing to pay government workers, who unlike him actually work for a living and need paychecks to survive.
Notice also that after he said publicly before the shutdown that he would proudly shut the government down and take full responsibility for it (aside: it’s okay to laugh at the thought of Trump actually claiming he would take responsibility for something!), he has flip-flopped to insisting that the shutdown is the work of Democrats and they should be blamed for it.
Notice that Trump, a president who constantly tries to abuse and over-stretch his powers as given by the Constitution, is now claiming he might invoke emergency executive powers to go around Congress and use the military to build his wall.
The obvious question is, what emergency?
Manufacturing Boom Under Trump
Attempting to declare a national emergency would be without question an authoritarian unconstitutional power grab. But we must not forget that Trump, like megalomanic leaders throughout history have always done, is prone to attempting to manufacture crises in order to get his way for something that is unpopular and/or illegal.
We have to look no further than his first few weeks as president when he claimed there was an immigration crisis, all of a sudden apparently right when he became president, that meant a temporary Muslim ban had to be put into effect in order to keep America safe while he made America’s immigration/refugee security even more strict that what it was (which he called weak while it was anything but — again part of trying to manufacture a crisis). Of course a year and a half later when he finally got a version of his ban worked out that passed the courts the question has to be asked: what happened to the so called “extreme vetting” that he claimed would be in effect after a six months that would make the Muslim ban no longer needed? If he was telling the truth then the need for a ban would have passed by mid-2017 once he implemented his own version of “extreme vetting”, a year before he finally got a version of his ban through the courts. The answer of course is that “extreme vetting” was a lie and the crisis was manufactured out of his own (from what I hear, very large) brain — or more likely from his fellow anti-immigrant advisors. Otherwise according to his statements from early 2017, for a year and a half during his presidency terrorists were flooding into America unchecked! The ban was not a solution to anything other than furthering his isolationist, xenophobic, and racist agenda.
Leaders who don’t know how to actually get anything done, or only want to do unpopular and often unjust/illegal things, resort to periodically manufacturing crises in order to scare people into giving them power and creating a worse world for us all to live in. Trump’s emergency-powers border-wall made-up crisis is simply his latest power play to make America a worse and weaker country.
The Great Danger
Trump has said he will keep the government shutdown for two years until the next election if he has to. Nobody knows if this is an empty threat or if Trump is truly that insane, but given the past two years I wouldn’t put it past him to abandon America and hold the government hostage indefinitely if he doesn’t get his way. Know that if he actually does this America would fail. You don’t have a country without a government and a government can’t simply wait in the wings for two years with literally no money. If Trump refuses to fund the government either the Republicans would be waiting until America fell or until they found some backbone and removed him from office. Though to be fair after a month or two I think even his blindly-following base will start to turn on him, as this seems to be the only way he would consider doing the right thing and opening the government back up.
If Trump doesn’t give in Democrats might start to think they should give him his wall simply to spare America from Trump continuing to hold the country hostage. And while from one perspective that certainly makes sense, they must understand that if they cave and give Trump what he wants he will just shutdown the government the next time Congress has to pass a budget, again holding the nation hostage until he gets more wall funding, or even for some other unpopular idea of his that he knows could never get through Congress. Giving in to Trump’s unreasonable, unpopular, and often un-American demands means to invite this same situation to continue to occur as long as Trump is president. Let him whine and wail and curse and scream and tweet and lie and try to thwart executive power and the constitution, it will all lead to nothing, just don’t let him build the wall, because if Democrats do that, we have truly handed over the country to a madman.
The Logic of Not Giving In
If Trump couldn’t get funding for his wall while Republicans had both houses of Congress, there is no political reason to give him money for his wall when the American people strongly came out in opposition to Trump and Republicans in the 2018 elections and put Democrats in charge of the House. American voters strongly rejected Trump and Republicans in November, and undoubtedly that includes his border wall.
Not to mention most experts agree that such a wall would not be an effective way to stop illegal immigration and drug flow into the US. Part of this is because most illegal immigration is from people who come in legally and simply overstay their legal welcome, while most drugs coming into the country get smuggled through ports of entry, not through gaps in the border. And of course there is the fact that a wall is simply a static physical object, and people who really want to get into the country (or get drugs in that way) can with some work find a way around it. All they need is shovels and a lot of work or a tall ladder in a place that isn’t actively being watched. Since a wall is really only as good as how well you can watch it, and we can’t possibly reasonably watch thousands of miles of wall, it do some but not much in terms of real border security.
Trump’s wall, if built, would be an ineffective and wasteful monument to a fear and hate stoked outcry of xenophobic, anti-immigrant, and racist rhetoric spread by a man who doesn’t understand America, American history, or American values. Nobody should want that to be America’s fate.
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