Every week, shameful actions in our nation’s capital seem to surpass those of the previous week.
Thursday (Jan. 17), House representatives – individuals who are supposed to act responsibly and represent the best interests of the country – almost came to physical blows.
“Republicans accused Democrats of trying to steal a vote,” The Washington Post reported (Jan. 19), “Democrats accused Republicans of not paying attention to the floor proceedings and, finally, a GOP lawmaker shouted, ‘go back to Puerto Rico!’
“The chance of physical confrontation seemed to grow by the second…”
“Cooler heads prevailed,” The Post added, “mostly because of [House Majority Leader Steny] Hoyer and House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) and their agreement to a do-over vote Wednesday.”
The stand-off between those who support the president’s request for a $5.7 billion down payment for a wall, framed as “border security,” and those in favor of security but not a wall, continues to grow more combative by the hour.
In the middle of all this political posturing and rancor are more than 800,000 federal workers and their families who are literally being used as hostages by President Trump.
I will be “proud” to shutdown the government over “border security,” Trump told Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer in front of media cameras.
In what the president believed was a major compromise, Trump announced on Saturday (Jan. 19), that “…he would extend temporary protections for some unauthorized immigrants if Democrats gave him $5.7 billion for the wall he wants to build along the southern border.”
Democrats continued to reject a plan that would give Trump any money for his wall; a wall in which 59 percent of the country does not support. However, Democrats did counter-offer adding $1 billion more for border security, not a physical wall.
Meanwhile, at 5:11 Sunday morning, Trump, as is his wont, sat in his Oval Office tweeting out more fear and unreason.
“Nancy Pelosi and some of the Democrats turned down my offer yesterday before I even got up to speak. They don’t see crime & drugs, they only see 2020…”
It’s ironic that on a day that we celebrate Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. – the moral leader of the Civil Rights movement – The White House contains zero moral leadership with a man who acts more like a despotic King than a President interested in unifying a deeply divided country.
Sadly, Congress is not far behind with a Senate Majority Leader unwilling to exercise his Constitutional duty as a check on the power of the Executive Branch.
On Day 31 of the longest government shutdown in U.S. history, I read letters to the editor from readers of The New York Times regarding the shutdown. They speak more plainly and with more wisdom than many in Washington.
“Another low from the president of the United States,” David S. Cantor of Los Angeles writes regarding Trump’s cancelling Pelosi’s planned foreign visit in retaliation to Pelosi’s suggestion that Trump delay his State of the Union speech. “The purpose of the visit to American troops in Afghanistan by a congressional delegation is to assert through our representatives that they have our full support and gratitude for their service. To use our military as pawns to retaliate against Speaker Nancy Pelosi is undignified. Once again Mr. Trump is unable to put country above politics.”
However, Valentin Lyubarsky from Brooklyn did not spare Nancy Pelosi:
“Having duly remarked about ‘Mr. Trump’s brattiness,’ you proceed to praise Nancy Pelosi’s ‘chops to manage it.’ But how does this punch and counterpunch strategy help with the most important conundrum of the political moment — eliminating the government shutdown?
“I am afraid,” she continues, “that it may only make things worse. We need a compromise. And smacking Mr. Trump, however much he may deserve it, can only make it more difficult for him to get out of his contrarian hole.”
Miriam Michel from Jackson Heights, Queens doesn’t spare Congress:
“…Congress has had the power all along to end it by passing a compromise spending bill and then simply overriding the inevitable veto. But too many members of Congress have apparently tried to have it both ways by first agreeing to a deal and then backing down.
“Clearly those people have forgotten that they are ‘representatives,’ ” Michel makes clear, “and not of that one person in the White House. They are representatives of their constituents, and those people are suffering more and more — not getting paid, not getting services, not being protected.
“Congress — a collective Nero — fiddles on full pay while America burns. Yes, it’s Congress that’s to blame for this insane shutdown. Period.”
In offering direct aid to workers who must work without pay, as many around the country have demonstrated, Howie Weinick from Woodmere, NY, asks this ethical question:
“If I give a T.S.A. agent a $20 bill as I pass through airport security, is it a bribe or a charitable donation?”
Brent Kigner from Smithtown, NY, may sum it up best for many of us:
“The great thing about America used to be that anyone could grow up to become president. Now you don’t even have to grow up.”
If he were alive today, what would Dr. King say about Donald Trump?
“Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”
Ever the optimist, however, I believe Dr. King would add, “The time is always right to do what is right.”