Led by the Congressional Black Caucus, about 130 House Democrats are backing a resolution to censure President Trump over remarks he made at a meeting over the fate of DACA recipients — remarks in which he suggested that the United States’ immigration policy should consider more applicants from nations such as Norway, and fewer from what he reportedly termed “shithole” countries.
“It’s important for the world to know that’s not how we think, that’s not how we feel,” Rep. Cedric L. Richmond (D-La.) said Thursday afternoon at a news conference. “The people from these countries, the leadership of these countries, were hurt.”
This is the latest of several efforts to officially censure the president for remarks dealing with race; like efforts to officially chastise his comments about white nationalist protests in Charlottesville, this censure effort is expected to falter in a Republican-controlled House.
This is precisely the right approach, and there is no justifiable rationale for Republicans to vote against the resolution. In fact, they might benefit from the small act of defiance.
The Democrats picked the right issue and the right method. What Trump said wasn’t an illegal or impeachable act. It was a heinous statement that put the president on record as denigrating an entire continent and slurring immigrants from poor countries. While they are at it, the Democrats may want to include Thursday’s vile remarks from Attorney General Jeff Sessions. He brought disrepute on himself and his office, and made a mockery of the nation’s founding creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
Democrats have been remarkably restrained, candidly, during a presidency in which each day produces new outrageous remarks and policy positions that undermine our democratic norms. This latest outburst — along with Charlottesville — arguably is in a class by itself, suggesting to millions of Americans that your country of origin determines your value to the world.
We can already hear the excuses Republicans will raise — because they raised the same ones after his statement of moral equivalence between neo-Nazis and counterdemonstrators:
“This would be political.” Yeah, right. The appeal to our founding principles is political, but the defense of a president for violating those principles is not? This is blind partisanship, putting loyalty to the president above fidelity to our Constitution.
“It wouldn’t do anything.” Well, if they’d prefer impeachment, Democrats would gladly oblige. However, this is not an excuse to do nothing. Republicans do have a point though. More compelling actions would be passage of a fix for the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which Trump inhumanely ended, and an extension of temporary protected status for Haitians and Salvadorans. Such legislative actions would refute the notion that we do not value immigrants from nonwhite, non-European countries. But of course Republicans don’t want to do this either.
“It would intensify partisanship.” Really? It’s hard to see how things could get much worse. To the contrary, when there is a price to be paid — even a symbolic one — for throwing red meat to the base and waving the bloody shirt, perhaps there will be less of it.
We know full well Republicans won’t join this effort and will not allow a vote. They’ve tied themselves to Trump so tightly that there is no way to wriggle away from his obnoxious views. Moreover, some GOP lawmakers, as they’ve said openly (cheered by the attorney general and anti-immigrant groups), agree with him. The rest of Republicans likely don’t want to offend the “deplorables” who seem to be such a vital part of the GOP base that elected leaders feel they can no longer defend the Declaration of Independence.
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