You cannot take politics out of politics, but if that is all there is, you get dysfunction – precisely what we have today. In Washington, these days, there is very little attention to issues, principles and common sense. It is all about partisan politics – who will win and who will lose.
If we took twenty-four average citizens – 12 Republicans and 12 Democrats/12 conservatives and 12 liberals – with a sampling of every ethnic and interest group in America, they would come up with solutions to issues in one day that have been vexing our elected representatives in the nation’s capital for decades – even generations. We the people could achieve that because most people would put principle and common sense ahead of political advantage and petty partisanship.
Nothing illustrates the political dysfunction more than the grandiose – and largely needless – debate over border security.
President Trump has long said that we need to secure the border – really secure it. He has said that we need to deploy various approaches in different places along the 2000-mile Mexican border. He has also said that it would be up to the experts to more specifically define what is needed and where. He has argued that part of the solution is some form of physical barriers in designated areas.
Democrats have said that they, too, believe the border must be secured. They have proposed that different approaches be used in different locations based on the advice of the professionals in charge of the border. They have said that in some locations, a physical barrier would very likely be needed.
Both the Republicans and Democrats have said that they want to remove the shadow of uncertainty over the heads of the DACA Dreamers. While there is some disagreement over amnesty and an immediate path to citizenship, there is unanimity in the basic belief that those brought here as children should be able to legally remain in America without the threat of deportation hanging over them like a Sword of Damocles.
Trump calls for more border guards, and so do the Democrats. Trump’s proposal includes more immigration judges to process those seeking asylum more expeditiously, and Democrats have made that same proposal. Both the Trump and the Democrats seek to rely on natural mountain barriers where the geography provides. They agree in the need to use advanced technology to provide both surveillance and defense where applicable.
Since all these measures for securing the border and resolving the DACA problem seem to have broad appeal across party lines – and amongst the public in general – what is the problem?
Weeell … the problem is political partisanship. Neither side is really dealing with the issue in a fact-based manner, but with fictional political narratives – a Game of Thrones, Dungeons and Dragons, Kabuki Theater or whatever you want to call it. But it is not called “dealing with reality.” There are several false political narratives that are getting in the way.
One of the major ones involves the fact that it is NOT a fight over border barriers but a political fight over the definition of a “wall.” Despite the apparent agreement over partial barriers between the President and the Democrats, the political battle that plays out in the press is over a fictional solid wall that transcends the entire 2000-mile frontier. Democrats frequently refer to it as another Great Wall of China even though that is merely a straw man argument. It is not what Trump is proposing or requesting.
Nancy Pelosi has a predicament of her own making – a political corner into which she painted herself. If she provides ANY money for ANYTHING that might appear to be a figurative “immoral” wall – a barrier of any kind – – she is likely to have the radicals in her caucus go ballistic. So she and the Democrats in leadership are dug-in in opposition to that fictional wall of their political narrative. They are ignoring Trump’s proposals.
Both Trump and the Democrats are not letting facts get in the way of a good political narrative. Trump stresses the danger of our border being the point-of-entry for heinous criminals, drugs and disease. The Democrats counter with an image of suffering mothers and children escaping persecution.
Democrats point out that most of the illegal drugs enter through regular points-of-entry. That may be true, but that does not mean we should ignore the large quantities of drugs that do reach the streets of America via the open border, and the thousands – yes, thousands – of criminals who enter illegally.
The same applies to the Democrats argument that most illegal aliens overstay visas. They do not cross the border illegally. That is also true, but that does not mean we should ignore the hundreds of thousands of those who DO cross our southern border.
What is not discussed is the fact that requests for asylum must be based on serious danger and oppression. Under our laws, those coming here simply for better work or improved living conditions – or welfare – are not eligible for asylum. According to government reports, up to 80 percent of those seeking asylum are NOT eligible – and yet most will remain in the country as undocumented residents.
Democrats raise Trump’s ill-advised campaign promise to have Mexico pay for the wall. It does not appear that that is going to happen in the traditional sense – as most people understood Trump to mean. But it is an irrelevant point. Either we need some barriers to secure the border, or we do not. If we do need them – and that seems to be the opinion of most of those in charge of border security – it does not matter who pays. It just must be paid.
It is no exaggeration to say that the funding of border security as a portion of the overall Continuing Resolution to provide money for the entire discretionary federal budget is not a very difficult problem to resolve — if we just focus on the facts and the real issues and cease playing partisan politics.
So, there ‘tis.