Government by Decree

A border wall may be a stupid idea (“show me a fifty foot wall and I’ll show you a fifty-one foot ladder”), but that doesn’t matter to a monomaniacal constituency holding the nation hostage to its white supremacist agenda.

Trump and his FOX News cheerleaders claim that America is being invaded. Alabama Republican Congressman Mo Brooks compared the “invasion” of asylum seekers to 9/11: “Let’s look at 9/11 by way of example. We lost 3,000 people more or less on 9/11. That justified going to war in Iraq, Afghanistan and our troops are still there to varying degrees.”

But the desperation of Central American refugees is a problem decades of American “interventions” caused. And when desperate people show up at your door it’s not a home invasion but the result of economic and political instability we created in places like Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador.

The Libertarian CATO Institute disputes Trump’s claim that the situation on the border is any worse than in previous years. During both Bush and Obama administrations, in fact, Border Patrol agents actually turned away more immigrants than today. It’s also clear that Trump’s wall-inspired shutdown has nothing to do with national security. If it were, “non-essential” TSA employees, air traffic controllers, and the Coast Guard would all be drawing paychecks. Besides the insane wall, Trump’s immigration policies include deportation of people who never committed a crime (DACA and TPS recipients), increased de-naturalization of citizens, and political attacks on the U.S. Constitution’s conferral of citizenship to anyone born here.

It’s clearly not about safety. It’s about keeping America as White as possible for as long as possible.

Republicans never liked Presidential orders when a Black president was writing them. But now, with a white supremacist in the Oval Office, they sure have changed their tune. For the last two years Donald Trump has displayed his signature on many an order — and that’s just fine with the GOP.

With the longest-ever national shutdown still in progress, Trump has decided to take autocracy to a new level — threatening to declare a National Emergency if he can’t get his wall through political negotiations. This move is one more milestone in the erosion of American democracy but it is also troubling that the president’s base would support such a declaration without any credible evidence of a real emergency. They don’t want a president. They want a caudillo.

But Republicans should really ask themselves if they want to go down this road of government by decree. If so — and with Trump’s precedent — the next Democratic president will be able to use the same new powers to declare national emergencies to solve a long list of serious, neglected crises:

  • grant permanent residency to DACA and TPS recipients;
  • re-open abortion clinics across the country;
  • stop the epidemic of gun deaths in the United States;
  • fix poisoned water systems in Flint, Newark, and elsewhere;
  • end poverty and homelessness by expanding the social safety net;
  • raise minimum and set maximum wages;
  • order the implementation of Medicare for All;
  • establish a comprehensive jobs program to provide 100% employment;
  • end voter suppression;
  • relieve Puerto Rico of its crushing debt;
  • take immediate steps to reduce CO2 emissions; and
  • declare invalid the DOJ memorandum sparing sitting presidents from prosecution.