I have been watching the commercials for the third district race and found it to be a down-to-the-wire-event. We have...

Democrats don't have to cave on the wall

1 of 2

Douglas Cohn


Monday, December 31, 2018

“Trump’s Wall” has become a cause célèbre, an issue so controversial that it has taken on a life of its own separate and apart from any reasonable discussion about it being a good idea or a bad idea, including what kind of wall to build, with what materials, for how much money, and for what expected benefit.

These things no longer matter because the issue has become so much larger than the underlying details. The real issue now — the cause célèbre — is whether or not Congress will appease a bully who believes his pulpit grants him more than the power of persuasion.

Trump has dug in his heels on the wall, shutting down a portion of the government and holding it hostage to his demands. In the end, he may resort to pulling funds out of the Pentagon to pay for his wall. If he could send 2,200 troops to the border to protect against a mythical invasion, he can find a way to send a wall to the border even if such a rationalization is an unconstitutional expenditure of funds only Congress can allocate.

The important point here is that the Democrats do not cave. Democrats must hold firm with their position of no money for “Trump’s Wall.” Were they to do otherwise, they would be feeding the president’s autocratic tendencies while undermining the purse-string prerogatives of Congress. This is tinder for a constitutional crisis.

When the Democrats take control of the House on Jan. 3, newly installed Speaker Nancy Pelosi will call for a vote on a bill similar to what the Senate unanimously passed before Trump backed down on his promise to sign it.

There is no reason for the Democrats to give in now, and lots of reasons for them to hold the line. They have the votes, they have the power, and eventually Trump will have to subvert or fold. Senate Republicans who are up for reelection in 2020 are not going to vote to sustain Trump’s veto of a bill to reopen the government. Starting his third year in office with a veto override would be an inauspicious beginning.

Once Democrats have stood up to Trump’s bullying and funded the government, they must offer a positive and realistic message on immigration. To counter Trump’s scare tactics, Democrats would do well to remind people that the majority of the people here illegally have over-stayed their visas.

People sneaking across the Mexican border is an outdated perception of what’s happening. Mothers with children are attempting the perilous journey through Mexico because the conditions in their home countries in Central America are worse than anything they imagine will happen to them if they show up at legal crossings and ask for asylum.

Instead of dedicating $5 billion for a border wall, as Trump proposes, spending that money on border security, immigration judges, and medical personnel would be a far more effective and humanitarian way to allocate funds.

The fact that a second child from Guatemala has died in U.S. custody at the border is a shame on all of us. At least it prompted Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen to say she would increase medical screenings at the border. Too bad it took a cause célèbre for her to do the right thing.

Too bad it is taking a cause célèbre to expose and confront a bully pulpit gone awry.

Washington Merry-Go-Round presents today’s events in historical perspective. Douglas Cohn is a columnist, speaker and author of political and historical nonfiction. Eleanor Clift is political reporter, author, a contributor to MSNBC and blogger for The Daily Beast.


Humans of Greenville


Local photographer Joe Pellegrino explores Greenville to create a photographic census of its people.

Op Ed

June 10, 2019

The New York Times 

“Because it’s there.” For those who grew up on George Mallory’s famous explanation for his yearning to scale Mount Everest, with all the romance, danger and spirit of exploration it implied, that viral photograph of an endless line of climbers in…

June 10, 2019

Although it may not appear so, the leaders of both major political parties in North Carolina favor lowering the tax burden of large businesses. Their real dispute is about the scope and magnitude of the tax relief.

Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper has consistently opposed recent state budgets, crafted by…

john hood.jpg

June 10, 2019

We are just weeks away from the first of 20 Democratic debates scheduled this primary season. It gets underway over two nights in Miami on June 26 and 27, and never before has there been a debate this early in the election and potentially this important.

The reason there are so many candidates, 23…


June 09, 2019

Gerrymandering has always been part of American politics. After all, the term was coined in 1812 after Massachusetts governor and Founding Father Elbridge Gerry endorsed a state senate district that resembled a salamander.

Until recently, federal courts have been highly reluctant to enter the…

Steve and Cokie Roberts

June 09, 2019

It is not unfair to point out that President Trump, on many important subjects, is just an ignoramus.

A vivid illustration of this unfortunate fact came this week in London, when it was revealed that Prince Charles, a knowledgeable environmentalist, had tried to educate the president on climate…

Eugene Robinson

June 09, 2019

"When you are told all your life you're dumb, unworthy, you start believing it. God changed that for me."

Jerry, from Youngstown, Tennessee, hesitated to be interviewed by Chris Arnade, because "I don't know my ABCs, so I can't really talk right." He told Arnade, the author of the new book…


June 09, 2019

Senate Republicans are pushing back on President Trump's plan to impose tariffs on Mexico. But if Mexican officials think these Republicans are going to save them from Trump's tariffs, it's time for them to think again.

So far, congressional Republicans have managed to remain bystanders in Trump's…


June 08, 2019

In 1940, some 3.6 million people lived in North Carolina, ranking the state 11th in the nation in population and first in the Southeast. Across the South as a whole, only Texas (6.4 million) was more populous.

If present trends continue, by 2040 North Carolina will have a population of about 12.7…

john hood.jpg

June 08, 2019

The Charlotte Observer

How much money is too much for a high school football coach? North Carolina’s second largest school district has provided something of an answer.

Last month, Vance High School coach Aaron Brand cashed in on a successful five-year run in Charlotte and accepted a coaching…

June 08, 2019

In 1788 the Hillsborough Convention convened to consider ratification of the U.S. Constitution and also to approve an “unalterable” seat of government. They did neither.

The Constitution, they determined, lacked assurances of personal rights the delegates deemed essential and, after…

Tom Campbell
231 stories in Op Ed. Viewing 1 through 10.
«First Page   «Previous Page        
Page 1 of 24
        Next Page»   Last Page»