The Democrats will be damned if they do, and no less damned if they don’t, give citizenship to the DACA kids. Thomas Edsall writes that Trump has got the Democrats just where he wants them. Do they even know it?
What is it about Trump, the racist, nativist, bully, and ignoramus that he is, that keeps his Republican base of support in line? Well it has to be for mostly if not solely just these two Trump strategies, that he embodies although did not invent.
For one, Trump would slow if not stop the flow of impoverished “dirty white,” dark, and black immigrants from what he calls the “shitholes” of the world, from Latin America, the Middle East and Africa, and in their place increase, although probably only moderately to keep the overall numbers down, the white and “dirty or off white” immigrants from the developed economies of Europe and Asia, that is immigrants with the talents and skills to grow our economy and not merely add to our welfare rolls,
And for two, he would grow the power of the Christian fundamentalists, the God lovers, the evangelicals, with the result that the separation between church and state on which our country was founded would no longer hold.
By means of Trump’s tweets and actions religious dogma is now on its way to becoming once again the ordering principle of our lives, as in the early Massachusetts colonies, not to mention the much earlier Middle Ages.
Trump is, probably not even aware of what he is doing, while undoing and replacing under the mantra of the freedom of religion, what I thought was forever fixed in our nation’s DNA, the rule of law.
Trump by his words and actions is embodying the racial and religious prejudices of the Republicans and this alone is the source of his support, not his building a wall between us and Mexico, not his lowering taxes on the middle class but mostly on the rich, not his failed attempt to undo health insurance for the poorest among us, nor even his stated desire to recharge our infrastructure (that which hasn’t yet even got off the ground).
For the Republicans Trump’s refusal to allow entry to the refugees coming to our shores, no less than his placing God’s commandments once again in the public square, that’s the sort of thing that he claims would make the country “great again.”
It didn’t have to be this way, although as long as Trump is there it will probably be the way things are. For Trump won’t change, and he won’t be impeached and voted out of office before 2020. The Democrats, however, might have done things differently, might have stopped him, not made things easier for him as they now seem to be doing. They might have got behind something grand, something that would have made Trump’s words and actions look just as petty as in fact they are. They might have got behind a position that would begin to crumble Trump’s base and draw away his support. Why haven’t they been able to do this?
Masha Gessen in the New Yorker of February 1 outlines just such a “grand position,” one they might have taken (they still might?). She describes a totally different and truer way of looking at what is now our national hangup over immigration. And she points out how the Democrats have fallen short of making a real challenge to Trump’s own anti-immigrant fervor. What might the Democrats have said instead? They might have taken Gessen’s totally different approach to immigration.
Gessen’s different approach would be to frame the issue in purely moral terms rather than as now in largely economic ones. For her a different approach would address and stress American responsibility in a world in which tens of millions of people have been displaced by war, famine, and violence. This would mean talking not only about the Haitian or Salvadoran refugees who are being deported from the United States but also about the hundreds of thousands of Syrian and Yemeni refugees who have no hope of entering the one country in the world best situated to give them shelter.
She would have the Democrats, all of us, address the future of a planet that is slowly becoming unsuitable for human habitation, and highlight our, the American responsibility, to those who lose their homes as a result. She would even have us question the premise that the dumb luck of having been born in the United States gives any one group of people the right to decide who may subsequently enter the United States.
Would Gessen’s ideas begin to crumble the Republican position? Probably not.
So we ask again who are the Republicans? Do they not see that they are not the fine people, the upstanding members of the Congress, they would like to be. Rather they reveal themselves to be by their words and actions anyway, merely close-minded bigots, afraid of the diversity as well as the sameness of the world’s peoples, seeing out there five or more races of men but never the single family of man.