My current events blog died out years ago, but I still have a few meaningful (or at least I think them meaningful) things to say on matters happening around us today. Below is an article originally written as an Op-Ed but rejected by the local papers because I am not an “expert” in the field of politics. I’ve decided to publish it here.
The Death of Nuance–
All government happens in the center. Political discourse at the periphery (far left and far right) is useful primarily as a way to recalibrate the system and make sure the needs of everyone get met. When I still lived in Vermont, I voted for Bernie Sanders for that reason. I knew that he would fight passionately for his beliefs on the far left of the political spectrum and keep the professional politicians in Washington D.C. honest. Those professional politicians, however, were necessary to insure that the entire federal apparatus didn’t come crashing down or grind to a screeching halt.
Whatever your thoughts on President Trump, it is clear that he came to power through an uneasy coalition of political movements including many organizations on the far right. Some of these represent the worst tendencies in American culture and see the slogan “Make America Great Again” as an opportunity to roll back the Civil Rights gains of non-white and non-Christian inhabitants of the United States. Mainstream Republicans have chosen to look the other way so that they can enjoy a majority in all three branches of the Federal government. I also believe that they are afraid of Donald Trump and the Troll Army he has at his disposal via Twitter.
The fruits of this coalition so far have been chaos and a rapid decline in status for the United States as a world power. One example is the poorly executed and poorly conceived Executive Order banning entry to citizens of seven nations deemed a threat to the United States. Normal governance would have started with the President consulting with Republican leadership in the Senate and the House and giving them a framework to craft legislation amending existing immigration law. He then would have held a press conference to explain that framework and could have announced an executive order at that conference slowing down entry of persons from a list of nations that pose a clear threat to the United States. Responsible vetting rather than extreme vetting.
Trump, of course, chose not to do this. Instead he crafted his order and sent it out as swiftly as possible, giving little guidance to those charged with enforcing it. What happened next was inevitable. A blunt order led to a blunt response. Now all immigration reform is racist and xenophobic and all attempts to protest it are unpatriotic. How, I ask, is this useful to the United States? Not only does it not make the nation safer but it increases the partisan divide present throughout the 2016 election and ensures that true governance is impossible. It also confuses and terrifies our allies who are fast backing away from the United States and ensuring that in the not too distant future we will be a pariah nation.
Domestic and Foreign Policy is not and cannot be treated like Reality Television. It is desperately boring for a reason. Nuance is boring. Such nuance is nonetheless necessary to ensure the proper functioning of government at the local, state, and federal level. Without it, you have chaos, fear, anger, and social collapse. Let’s keep the drama out of the White House and leave it with Gordon Ramsey in Hell’s Kitchen. Then the government can get down to the task of crafting policies that will help all of the people in the United States.
John Casey, Chicago, IL