FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Shutdown as Shakedown

Donald Trump had the government shutdown that he wanted.  No one should be confused about this.

The shutdown allowed Trump and Republicans to ply their poisonous politics of division.  And the shutdown provided occasion for a shakedown of Democrats, with Trump willing to shut the government down until he got billions for the wall that he had preposterously promised the Mexicans would pay for.

The record here is quite clear.  Long before the deadline, Trump tweeted that a “good shutdown” might be necessary to “fix mess!” His White House and the Republican Congress have utter scorn for federal employees, so treating these public servants shabbily is, to them, a feature, not a bug.  When Americans find public services less available, Social Security claims delayed, water systems fouled, that’s a benefit too — because it just provides fuel for Trump’s attack on government.

The blowup was utterly unnecessary.  Trump postured publicly as a supporter of the Dreamers, the hundreds of thousands of innocents, brought here as infants, who now — because of Trump’s executive order — face deportation to countries that they have never known.  Trump claimed he was ready to support a bipartisan agreement.

Democrat Dick Durbin and Republican Lindsay Graham, representing a bipartisan group, brought him that agreement.  That’s when Trump purposefully blew up the process, scorning immigrants from “s—hole countries.”  Even when Democratic Senate leader Chuck Schumer agreed with Trump’s demand for billions for the wall, there was still no deal.  He “couldn’t take yes for an answer,” Schumer concluded.

Why would Trump and Republicans force the shutdown?  The Trump campaign made that clear, rolling out a vicious television ad calling Democrats “complicit” for slayings committed by undocumented immigrants.  The White House and Republican legislators repeated endlessly scurrilous talking points that they knew were a lie: Democrats favor protecting illegal immigrants over funding our soldiers, supporting our veterans and providing services for Americans.

This is ugly, race-based politics at its worst. Republicans reveled in it, claiming they had the upper  hand.

It’s worth remembering that many recent mass murders in America — in Newtown, Orlando, Las Vegas, Charleston and Sutherland Springs — involved U.S.-born assailants.  Are Republicans, who in league with the National Rifle Association block any reform of our ridiculous gun laws, responsible for all of those murders?  That’s the logic of the Trump campaign ad slurring Democrats on immigration.

Now a deal has been reached to reopen the government, at least until Feb. 8. In theory, Democrats will gain relief for the Dreamers that is favored by some 85 percent of Americans.  Trump will probably shake out billions to waste on his wall.  Government will reopen, with the same distorted priorities.

Whether the government will finally get a real budget for the remainder of this fiscal year (which ends on the last day of September) remains to be seen. Will Trump finally take yes for an answer?

Trump and his campaign aides clearly see the political gain from parading as tough on immigration over and over again.  He said in the public meeting he held that he’d be willing to “take the heat” of a bipartisan immigration deal.  But he has preferred constantly to sow division rather than solve problems.

The second obstacle is the House leadership and caucus.  There’s a majority in the House for good immigration reform, but the Republican leadership refuses to take up a measure that would pass unless a majority of Republicans alone support it.  That makes the leadership hostage to the most right-wing faction in the party.  And a large number of them don’t want any deal, period.

Trump’s aides say he is the great dealmaker.  There’s no question if he wants a deal, there is one available.  The question remains is he prepared to make a deal.  Now, he’ll have until Feb. 8 to make up his mind.

The sad product of all this is that America’s politics will grow uglier and more divisive.  The White House and Republicans see themselves as having profited by appealing to our fears, by playing race-bait politics, by peddling hate.  They will surely keep doing what they think works.

Trump will continue to drive Americans apart — until we come together to call him and the Republicans who echo him to account.

More articles by:

Jesse Jackson is the founder of Rainbow/PUSH.

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
December 05, 2019
Colin Todhunter
Don’t Look, Don’t See: Time for Honest Media Reporting on Impacts of Pesticides
Nick Pemberton
Gen Z and Free Speech
Bob Lord
The U-Turn That Made America Staggeringly Unequal
Josh White
The Most Important Election in British History
Daniel Warner
The Hillsborough Soccer Tragedy: Who is Responsible?
Dean Baker
The Big Deal in Warren’s Prescription Drug Plan
George Ochenski
Another Utility Disaster Headed Our Way
Binoy Kampmark
Spying on Assange: the Spanish Case Takes a Turn
Victor Grossman
Big Rallies and Big Differences in Germany
L. Ali Khan
A Playboy Misrules Pakistan
William J. Astore
How American Exceptionalism is Killing the Planet
Susie Day
The Mad Activist Impeaches Western Culture
Andrés Castro
Look Out for the Drift
December 04, 2019
Jefferson Morley
RIP Fred Hampton: a Black Visionary Assassinated by the FBI
Vijay Prashad
Wealthy Countries’ Approach to Climate Change Condemns Hundreds of Millions of People to Suffer
Kenneth Surin
The Tory Election “Campaign” to Date
Maria Paez Victor
Indians Shall Not Govern
Peter Lackowski
Bolivia’s Five Hundred-Year Rebellion
Dave Lindorff
Billionaire Entitlement Run Amok: the Case of Michael Bloomberg
Doug Johnson Hatlem
Is Corbyn for Christmas Just Another Stove Pipe-Dream?
Howard Lisnoff
Elizabeth Warren: Savior of a Fallen System?
Robert Fisk
The Remembrance Poppy is Becoming a Weapon Against Immigrants to Canada
Dean Baker
NAFTA was About Redistributing Wealth Upwards
Richard Greeman
French Unions and Yellow Vests Converge, Launch General Strike
Binoy Kampmark
Legitimised Surveillance: Kim Dotcom’s Case Against GCSB
Walter Clemens
Goodbye Law and Morality, Welcome Pretend Tough!
Sam Pizzigati
Football Without Billionaires? Why Not?
Anthony Giattino
Royal Forests of America
December 03, 2019
Richard Lachmann
Can the US Get Out of Its Endless Wars?
Ramzy Baroud
Israel’s Unfinished ‘Coup’
David Rosen
The Dialectics of Postmodern Sexual Identity
Robert Fisk
Reporting Syria: I Talked to Everyone, Except Assad
Patrick Cockburn
Why the Resignation of Iraq’s Prime Minister May Not Stop the Mass Uprising on the Horizon
Norman Solomon
For Corporate Media, It’s ‘Anybody But Sanders or Warren’
Bob Scofield
Uruguay Turns to the Right
Joe Emersberger
Talking About Ecuador’s Political Prisoners: an Interview With Marcela Aguiñaga
Medea Benjamin
Trump Was Right: NATO Should Be Obsolete
Nyla Ali Khan
Lesson in Diplomacy for India’s Consul General Sandeep Chakravorty
William Gudal
The Bubble Machine
Gaither Stewart
Dirty Hands
Peter Certo
End the Wars, Win the Antiwar Vote
Binoy Kampmark
The Liveris Formula: Dow’s Inclusive Capitalism
Dan Bacher
California Freezes New Fracking Permits – But All Oil Drilling Permits Still Outpace 2018
Kay Sather
Can’t Get No Satisfaction?
December 02, 2019
Rob Urie
Ukraine, the New Cold War and the Politics of Impeachment
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail