Members Only | July 15, 2019 | Reading Time: 3 minutes

How Dems Let GOP Dictate Agenda

On immigration, the Democrats fear doing the right thing.

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You may have noticed a pattern that I’ve noticed. Lots of Very Smart and Very Serious People tell the Democrats something like the following: Don’t be what the president and the Republicans accuse you of being; you don’t want to prove them right. If you do what the Republicans accuse you of doing, you’re taking the bait! Don’t do it!

Very Smart and Very Serious People seem to mean well and have the Democrats’ best interest in mind. If they become what the GOP accuses them of, the thinking goes, the Democrats will lose “centrists,” and defeat the purpose of defeating Donald Trump. 

But acting in good faith is not the same as making sense.

The president told four House Democratic women of color over the weekend to go back to the countries “they came from.” (All but one was born in the US; the other is a naturalized citizen.) This was, of course, an expression of bald-faced white supremacy on the president’s part. The Democrats and others said as much. Trump doubled down. In doing so, he confirmed the accusation that, yes, he’s a white supremacist. 

Accusing the Democrats of OPEN BORDERS! might be a way of saying moral action is what the Republicans fear most.

No one yet appears worried that Trump has lost “centrist” voters even though the president proved the Democrats were right. Trump, in other words, is not subject to the same advice from Very Smart and Very Serious People. That no one is yet worried he has lost “centrist” voters suggests that white supremacy isn’t as marginal as Very Smart and Very Serious People think it is. Indeed, white supremacy lurks in the American political subconscious. As the old saying goes: It’s a feature, not a bug. 

Acting in good faith, moreover, is not the same as acting morally.

If the Democrats take the advice of Very Smart and Very Serious People, they might end up not doing the right thing when doing the right thing is necessary. In other words, by running away from Republican accusations, the Democrats not only act amorally; they allow the Republican Party to dictate their political and policy agenda.

Our “immigration crisis,” for instance, has next to nothing to do with the influx of immigrants. It has next to everything to do with the United States militarizing the border after 2001. Want to fix the “immigration crisis”? Demilitarize the border. 

The Democrats, however, are terrified of demilitarizing the border. If they did, the president and the Republicans Party would accuse them of OPEN BORDERS! Because the Democrats take the advice of Very Smart and Very Serious People seriously, they fear the charge of OPEN BORDERS! and instead muddle the difference.

While they oppose the president’s wall (a good thing), they continue to authorize billions for “border security” (a bad thing). In doing so, the Democrats are complicit in deeds done with the money: e.g., putting immigrant kids in cages. If the Democrats actually demanded OPEN BORDERS!, they’d at least be taking a moral position that stands in opposition to the president’s, and perhaps give “centrist” voters a choice.

For the president and the Republicans, it doesn’t matter what the Democrats actually do. They will accuse the Democrats of pretty much anything, and in doing so, they can prevent the Democrats from taking a moral stand. In a sense, accusing the Democrats of OPEN BORDERS! might be a way of saying moral action is what they fear most.

—John Stoehr

Trump to end legal asylum

From the AP this morning:

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration on Monday moved to end asylum protections for most Central American migrants in a major escalation of the president’s battle to tamp down the number of people crossing the U.S.-Mexico border.

According to a new rule published in the Federal Register , asylum seekers who pass through another country first will be ineligible for asylum at the U.S. southern border. The rule, expected to go into effect on Tuesday, also applies to children who have crossed the border alone.

There are some exceptions: If someone has been trafficked, if the country the migrant passed through did not sign one of the major international treaties that govern how refugees are managed (though most Western countries have signed them) or if an asylum-seeker sought protection in a country but was denied, then a migrant could still apply for U.S. asylum.

But the move by President Donald Trump’s administration was meant to essentially end asylum protections as they now are on the southern border.

John Stoehr is the editor of the Editorial Board. He writes the daily edition. Find him @johnastoehr.

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