Loading...
Bless all of our hearts. When did we all lose ourselves and become hateful, angry, argumentative people with no respect...

Congress has duty to tell Trump: Enough

Eugene Robinson

Eugene Robinson is a columnist with the Washington Post.

Loading…

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

"Our government may at some time be in the hands of a bad man. When in the hands of a good man it is all well enough. ... We ought to have our government so shaped that even when in the hands of a bad man we shall be safe."

Frederick Douglass said that in 1866, as Andrew Johnson — until now, clearly the worst president in U.S. history — tried his best to undo the verdict of the Civil War, encouraging white supremacists to re-impose brutal oppression of African-Americans in the former Confederate states. An irate Congress responded by passing the nation's first federal civil rights legislation, over Johnson's veto, and approving the 14th Amendment guaranteeing equal protection under the law. How will Congress respond now?

Once again, with President Trump in the White House, our government is "in the hands of a bad man." Once again, Congress has a duty to act — not rashly but responsibly, dealing with concrete issues in concrete ways.

Which brings us to the ongoing government shutdown over Trump's "big beautiful wall" or "steel barrier" or whatever he decides to call it next. If the real-world impacts were not so dire — the possibility, for example, that food assistance will lapse — the whole thing would be a joke. Indeed, watching Trump and his minions try to come up with justifications for a border wall does provide much-needed comic relief.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders was called out on one of the administration's biggest lies by Chris Wallace on "Fox News Sunday." Sanders went for the terror angle: "We know that roughly, nearly 4,000 known or suspected terrorists come into our country illegally, and we know that our most vulnerable point of entry is at our southern border."

Wallace wasn't having it. "Wait, wait, wait — I know the statistic; I didn't know you were going to use it. But I studied up on this. Do you know where those 4,000 people come — where they're captured? Airports."

"Not always," Sanders protested.

"At airports," Wallace said. "The State Department says there hasn't been any terrorist that they've found coming across the southern border with Mexico."

A flustered Sanders finally had to resort to the administration's standard way of responding to inconvenient facts, which is to lie: "I'm not disagreeing with you that they're coming through airports. I'm saying that they come by air, by land and by sea." Except, as Wallace noted, that none have been caught trying to come by land or sea.

Sanders also claimed that drug trafficking was a reason for the wall; however, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration, most illegal drugs coming in from Mexico arrive in tractor-trailers and other vehicles at legal crossings. And Sanders mentioned the throngs of Central American would-be immigrants arriving at the border; however, the great majority of these people are seeking asylum and present themselves, again, at legal points of entry.

The administration also touts a border wall as a way to stem illegal immigration. The fact is that since 2007 most immigrants who are here without proper documents arrived legally and simply overstayed their visas. In the 2017 fiscal year, according to Trump's own Department of Homeland Security, about 700,000 visitors overstayed their visas; the largest number was from Canada (101,281), followed by Mexico (52,859), Brazil (37,452) and China (35,571). It looks as if Trump is worried about the wrong border.

Trump knows that the wall is a costly and disruptive gesture. It isn't designed to make the nation safer. Its only purpose is to shore up his own political standing, especially with nativists who want to halt or reverse the "browning" of America.

We cannot require that our presidents be perfect. But we cannot accept the kind of divisive cynicism that Trump's wall embodies. The new Congress faces many tasks, but its first order of business must be to fund the normal operation of the government — without wasting taxpayer money on a boondoggle whose purpose is to reinforce a paranoid fantasy of "invasion" by swarthy hordes.

We are at one of those points that Douglass feared. Another quote from the great abolitionist is instructive: "Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will."

Congress has the power, the right and the duty to tell Trump: Enough. The madness stops here and now. This government was able to survive Andrew Johnson, and it will also survive you.

Eugene Robinson's email address is a columnist for The Washington Post.

Loading…

Humans of Greenville

@HumansofGville

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

Op Ed

July 12, 2019

Over the past three years, I have had the good fortune to work on a project that has the potential to transform the farming landscape in eastern North Carolina, one that involves harnessing gas produced from hog waste.

As CEO and founder of OptimaBio, our work with Smithfield Foods to capture…

Maloney

July 01, 2019

The American system of checks and balances government does not work the way most people think it does or the way the Founding Fathers said it would.

The president serves at the pleasure of Congress, just as the prime minister of the UK serves at the pleasure of Parliament, which means that the…

eleanorclift.jpg.jpg

June 26, 2019

Several Democratic presidential hopefuls are calling for Americans to make reparations for slavery. On June 19, the House judiciary subcommittee on the constitution, civil rights and civil liberties held a hearing. Its stated purpose was "to examine, through open and constructive discourse, the…

Walter Williams

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…

eleanorclift.jpg.jpg

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…

kathrynlopez

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…

MarcThiessen
179 stories in Op Ed. Viewing 1 through 10.
«First Page   «Previous Page        
Page 1 of 18
        Next Page»   Last Page»