In his inaugural address, President Trump thundered about “this American carnage” laying waste to the nation. One year later, his dystopian description is more apt for his administration. Three hundred and sixty-five days of sustained destruction of every norm and custom that made the United States the envy of the world and its president a global leader who commanded respect.
Last week, a friend of mine from New York marveled in exasperation at Trump’s ability to avoid being held accountable for laying waste to everything we thought we knew was acceptable or appropriate or legal. With eyes wide and mouth agape, he said, “He’s Teflon!” It was in that moment that I realized that my friend’s assessment was off. Trump isn’t Teflon. Republicans are complicit. By their silence or active participation, they are allowing an unaccountable Republican president to lay waste to America. This government #TrumpShutdown is simply a new form of their complicity.
Trump doesn’t know what he wants on any given policy, yet congressional Republicans thunder that Democrats are to blame for the first government shutdown in four years. How does that work? Republicans have been in control of the House since 2011. They increased their majority to historic levels in 2015, the same year they took control of the Senate. Now that they have had the White House for a year, they want to pin their inability to actually govern on Democrats? Chil’, please.
Because Democrats are demanding that Trump address right now the mess he created by rescinding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that protects from deportation law-abiding, vetted young people who were brought to this country as children, the president has responded with a scorched-earth ad that is a roiling stew of racism and xenophobia. The command to “stop illegal immigration now” is followed by “Democrats who stand in our way will be complicit in every murder committed by illegal immigrants.” And with that, you know Trump isn’t interested in any kind of immigration deal that would garner Democratic votes. More telling is the complicit silence of the Republican Party that lives in fear of Trump and in thrall to those who cheer the vile bigotry that sluices from his mouth and Twitter feed.
No one is surprised by this complicity of silence anymore. Just last week, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) were complicit in giving the president cover for his racist “shithole countries” insult. Those two walking moral vacuums dutifully marched out to say they didn’t hear it. Never mind that Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) gave multiple interviews detailing what happened and Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) confirmed the offense happened to Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.). Then White House officials told The Post that Cotton and Perdue privately said they heard “shithouse.” A distinction without a difference that simply confirms the walls of the Oval Office echoed with racism from the president of the United States.
After the GOP snatched control of the Senate from Democrats in the 2014 midterm elections, then-incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) was filled with hope. His plan was to show the American people that they were right to entrust the GOP with leadership of both houses of Congress. “I don’t want the American people to think that if they add a Republican president to a Republican Congress, that’s going to be a scary outcome,” McConnell said. “I want the American people to be comfortable with the fact that the Republican House and Senate is a responsible, right-of-center, governing majority.”
What an epic failure.
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