Saturday, January 19, 2019

An Open Letter to Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi: It’s Time to Stop Protesting the Wall

Ok.  You’ve made your point that the wall, as opposed to other types of increased border security, is not a good idea for various reasons.  And you’ve made clear that you are not going to let Trump roll over you and the new Democratic majority in the House.  As a liberal/progressive I have supported your position.

However, in week 3 of the shutdown the issue is a different one.  The issue is the welfare of the 800,000 federal employees who are not being paid, even some who are working, as well as the impact of the shutdown on the welfare of the country.

In this context what do you as leaders of the Democratic Party in Congress do?  You say you’ve passed funding bills to open the government while border security is negotiated, but Trump won’t sign them and Senator McConnell will not even schedule them.  Both sides are intransigent over funding for the wall.

We all agree, I think, that immigration should happen in an orderly manner, in accordance with the procedures and numbers set forth by Congress.  No one, not even the most fervent progressive, is in favor of illegal immigration.  This is completely separate from the issue of what we should do with the illegal immigrants who are already here and have become part of the fabric of their communities.

What is it then with the wall?  It has become a symbol of resistance to Trump and to his stand on immigration policy.  He not only wants the wall, but he has vilified illegal immigrants throughout his Presidential campaign and his time in office.  The wall has been made repulsive because it has been tainted with his offensive language.  

But even given all that, is this something over which you draw the line in the sand?  The answer should clearly be, no.  The issue of the wall does not rise to the level of importance that would lead to a lengthy shutdown.

Now of course once could ask, why should the Democrats blink?  Why doesn’t Trump back down.  And that’s a fair question.  But this is not a game of chicken.  It’s not even a question of right or wrong.  We are talking about the welfare of our country and the livelihood of millions of Federal employees.

Some Republican Senators have suggested combining the $5 billion for the wall with legislated protection for the Dreamers and other immigration reforms.  But these are not easy matters to legislate and you quite rightly don’t trust Trump to follow through with any commitment he makes.

You should therefore hold a press conference to announce your decision to give Trump his $5 billion for the wall, stating strongly that while a wall, as opposed to other increased security measures, is not in the country’s best interest, you are at this point more concerned about the welfare of the 800,000 federal employees going without pay and the overall welfare of the country which the continued shutdown is impacting in many ways.  Make clear that you have tried passing legislation to open up the government while negotiating this issue, but Trump and McConnell won’t budge.  This is the only way left for you to act responsibly as leaders of the Democratic Party in Congress and protect the interests of the country.

You will come out of this smelling like roses.  And if your fervent resist base has a fit, which undoubtedly they will, it’s time for them to act like grown-ups and not be blinded by their hatred and disgust of Trump.  You have fought the good fight; now it’s time to do what is best for the country, even if means having to listen to Trump gloat about his “win.”

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