Coming off the heels of a devastating government shutdown that we’ve somehow all already forgotten about, the president’s declaration of a national emergency Feb. 15 was not only a nakedly obvious attempt to distract his base from his own pathetic loss in that gamble – in which he actually impeded his own plans, coming out with $1.3 billion for 55 miles of fencing, far less than what he wanted and had been offered by the Democrats weeks prior – but moreover was not even a particularly good attempt at doing such. What that base received, instead, was perhaps the most doddering and senile display our president has given yet.
The whole affair calls back to one of the more banal stories in the mainstream news media last year, that of the supposed caravan of Latin American migrants approaching the U.S. border. The story then was the same here – a campfire tale for senior citizens who are convinced that MS-13 seeks to invade their podunk, midwestern towns. And while that tactic may have seen results at afternoon Bingo, the American people would appear to know better, given the rejection of this nonsense in the midterm elections.
The truth is that the caravan story is the same as every other conservative brouhaha about immigration – it is a fundamental misdirection as to where the origins of our country’s problems lie. When the people who embrace this anti-immigrant stance are able to actually articulate meaningful concerns re: immigration, it is almost always the fear that they will lose their jobs to lower-paid immigrant workers. It’s become something of a trope, the evergreen cry of “They’re takin’ our jobs.”
Here’s where the misdirection comes in. If your boss can replace you with someone and pay them less than what they pay you, why be mad at the new guy? Why not be mad at the boss instead? Or at the lawmakers, who aren’t just letting it happen – they’ve written it into the rules. The American economy of 2019 is demonstrably not designed for everyone, this is proven twice daily on Wall Street.
In the interest of good faith, though, I want to posit that Trump may be onto something here. The problems we face today in the U.S. are legion, and the processes in place seem almost designed to result in half-measures. It could very well be the case that a future president may need to call a national emergency themself in order to lead the country out of hard times. To help them with that, I’d like to propose a few options.
A president could call a national emergency to overhaul our healthcare system. The CDC reported in 2017 that at least 40 million American adults were unable to afford health insurance or access medical care.
Similarly, a president could call a national emergency to reign in the pharmaceutical industry, where rampant price-gouging has led to social media’s inundation with stories of kickstarters for life-saving surgery or cases as heartbreaking as a diabetic teenager who risked his life stretching his insulin so as to help his parents save money.
It need not stop there. A national emergency could be called to advance the Green New Deal – it may require such. Or, perhaps as a national apology for our president and his party’s actions, one could be called to reunite the thousands of children cruelly separated from their parents at the border.
As for Trump, he will never do any of these things. He’ll need to think fast on what his next move is though, given that the House has since motioned against his declaration and the Senate appears poised to do the same. His vision of carnage in the streets may have been enough to rile up the racists and profiteers for a time, but in the wake of growing resentment, it is clearly getting harder for him and his party to maintain that facade.
In short, the president’s national emergency is a godd*mned joke. But don’t just take my word for it, Trump himself admitted as much from the get-go.