There are some Nevada politicians still clutching Trumpian coat-tails, or pants’ legs, or something as of now. They might want to ask some questions, some fundamental, some quotidian, some tangential about that posture. We’ve had a day in which President Obama has spoken of a need to preserve and protect our democratic institutions, and in which his successor has spoken of a felt need to use the Department of Justice to pursue his personal political critics. It’s time to address the questions.
Do Nevada politicians really want to associate themselves with a president who cannot, or perhaps will not, differentiate between his own sense of security and the security of this nation? There is a difference. Our national security is not compromised by the publication of non-classified, albeit controversial, information about how the West Wing functions. It is a stretch to assume that IF a person divulges information from a meeting then it is presumed the individual in questions would necessarily reveal classified information. I can think of one instance in which #45 shared information with Russian visitors to the White House that compromised sources and methods; no sources and methods were compromised by the NYT op-ed piece.
President Bush took flack from critics of the Iraq War, from those critical of his administration’s response to Hurricane Katrina, and from others who decried his economic policies and his advocacy of de-regulation. Never once did he call the press an “enemy of the people.” President Obama received his share of criticism and complaint concerning everything from wearing a tan suit to the validity of his birth certificate. Never once did he call the press an “enemy of the people.” Both these men understood the difference between the President and the Presidency, and the difference between being the Head of State and the State itself.
Merely because criticism makes #45 feel insecure doesn’t mean the state is insecure. Bush understood this. Obama understood this. Nevada politicians would do well to consider whether or not to wholeheartedly support someone who can’t make this distinction.
Do Nevada politicians truly want to run campaigns anchored in a message of fear and division? What is gained by suggesting that Nevada citizens of Hispanic origin are less “American” than the citizens of Irish, German, Polish, Basque, or Chinese descent who preceded them? What is gained by inferring that immigrants from the Philippines are less capable of assimilating into the broad fabric of Nevada life than the immigrant workers in the hospitality industry who came from other countries? What is better for Nevada in the long run, promoting a path to citizenship and entrepreneurial opportunities for immigrants to this country (and this state), or building walls, both metaphorical and literal to keep them at a distance?
It isn’t necessary to run about wearing a white hood to touch the vile pitch of racism. All that’s required is to advocate in favor of restricting the economic opportunities, circumscribe the education, and diminish the participation in civic life, for various ethnic or minority groups. We can constrict them, devalue them, and make advocacy difficult for them. We can take away their voices by capriciously restraining their voting rights. We can wall ourselves off from them. However, in doing so we only succeed in encircling and shrinking ourselves.
If there’s one thing Nevada has it’s miles and miles of beautiful miles and miles. We can see further toward the horizons beyond most other topographical regions in this nation. Why would we choose to close down our social horizons when after a few moments driving time we can open up our physical ones? Every time we build a wall we restrict our own field of vision.
Fear usually breeds failure. Do Nevada politicians want to associate with failed policies? Nothing seems like a larger failure than the Zero Tolerance debacle on our southern border. 416 children to date separated from their parents, some of whom were lawfully seeking asylum in this country. Too many of these youngsters are under the age of 5. This is an unconscionable failure. Unless, of course, one adopts the President’s mindset that immigrants from Mexico and Central America “infest” our country; unless, of course, one thinks of people from Sh*thole Countries as undesirable. And now the Administration wants to detain families indefinitely. Indefinitely. [Vox]
There is only one nation on this planet that pulled out of the Paris Climate Accords, and as President Obama noted today, it wasn’t Syria…it was the United States of America. There is only one nation that gave away dominance in regional trading by backing out of the Transpacific Partnership…it was the United States of America. China and Japan are only too happy to fill the void. There is only one western democracy causing friction among NATO allies…the United States of America. There is only one nation threatening trade wars with debilitating tariffs … the United States of America. There is only one nation taking positions which could seriously damage trade relations with two of its most valuable trading partners… the United States of America. This isn’t success.
We got vague promises of future vague promises from the North Korean regime. While we made relations with China more difficult, the Chinese now have less incentive to pressure North Korea to do more. The North Koreans are continuing their military research apace. This isn’t success.
Polarization begets gridlock, and gridlock impedes progress. Do Nevada politicians want to take this route? My way or the highway is NOT a bargaining position. Implacable positions, taken for political expediency, mean a politician can never follow the dictum: Campaign in poetry, Govern in prose. I can startle a conservative relative by arguing that single payer health care would promote entrepreneurship and support small businesses by leveling the playing field between the big box retailers and the mom and pop stores. My conservative relative can widen my eyes by arguing that when work requirements are attached to Medicaid benefits we should be mindful of single adults, who while not physically disabled, are intellectually or developmentally challenged, and adjustments should be made for them. If hard and fast positions don’t advance conversations; then how can they be an impetus toward progress?
We can, and must, do better. And, we’ll do better when we function from a foundation predicated on our shared values, not one based upon our private fears.