We Need To Remember We Are All Americans

 

Here in America we have managed to create a vibrant and enduring government of interlocking local, state, and federal systems that over the centuries have provided an unprecedented degree of prosperity and security and helped our nation and citizens navigate both crises and changes. Our never-ending fussing, feuding, and fighting over the shape, scope, and expense of government has helped to create a nation that is the envy of the world, but our successes have not come without pain, heartache—and even bloody civil war.

However, our relationship with our government seems to have become dramatically strained—and estranged—over the past few decades, and many now wonder how we will emerge from our current conflicts unscathed and whole. In order to get to the root of the all-encompassing sense of dissatisfaction and unease that plagues our country today, the question that we must address seems to be a very basic one: Can our government hope to obtain the consent of the governed when our citizens now embrace such widely varying—and perhaps fundamentally irreconcilable—ideals? Are secessionist movements in states such as California signs of healthy debate or worrisome symptoms of political, social, and cultural fragmentation that could eventually rend our nation?

America has always been a country rife with contradictions. We are a nation peopled by immigrants and their descendants, yet we have always imposed limitations on immigration. We are a nation whose founding documents extol freedom and liberty, yet we permitted indentured servitude and legalized outright slavery when we finally gained our independence from England. We claim to support democracy around the world, yet we often have found it convenient to tolerate tyrants. We believe ourselves to be the most peaceful of people, yet we have spilled—and continue to spill—much blood abroad.

Perhaps a necessary part of being an American is to more often—and more insistently—remind ourselves that we are inherently flawed because we are human. To expect perfection is to perhaps forget our earthly limitations. As hard as we have tried to live up to the noblest ideals of our nation, we have not always been successful, but one could reasonably and persuasively argue that no nation in history has ever worked longer and harder to surmount its weaknesses and mistakes. As a result, we are generally able to both acknowledge our errors and celebrate our achievements. It is, in fact, often the case that each are simply two sides of the same American coin, and the more sensible among us recognize this maddening conundrum.

There is, unfortunately, a tendency today among many to see only one side of this coin. Some see reasonable restrictions on immigration—and the enforcement of existing laws—as outright hatred and nothing but. Others see a tragic past of slavery but cannot acknowledge the equally tragic civil war that both ended it and forged a new national identity. More than a few condemn us for failing to topple every dictator, yet they conveniently forget the barriers that sometimes make this impossible. Too many excoriate our country for making wars, but they refuse to credit the sacrifices made by the men and women of our armed forces that ensure the freedom to complain about our government and its policies—and have provided this same privilege for many millions more around the world. Perhaps those who focus so intently upon the contradictions within our history should also take a look at the contradictions within their own hot emotional reactions and cold academic analyses. To casually and cruelly deride those who insist upon the importance of our nationhood as an expression of pride and place is to disrespect those who choose to wave the flag. Worse yet, this sort of blind hatred of our country fails to recognize the power of our national identity to bind us together as a people—and incorrectly conflates patriotism with fascism.

No matter how one feels about President Trump’s policies or personality, it must be acknowledged that a particular section of his Inaugural Address, which was widely panned by many smug media commentators, was absolutely correct: “At the bedrock of our politics will be a total allegiance to the United States of America, and through our loyalty to our country, we will rediscover our loyalty to each other. When you open your heart to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice.” I realize that patriotism is today greeted by some with the same incredulity and confusion that an 11 year old feels when encountering a rotary dial phone, but focusing more on our shared purpose rather than obsessing over our inevitable differences might provide a way out of the echo chamber of identity politics that now confounds us. If all parties in a negotiation can act like Americans who have America’s best interests at heart, we may still be able to pull together and solve our many problems. However, should we continue to approach one another like competing armies intent on obliterating an enemy, we can expect—and likely deserve—nothing more than the anger and gridlock that stymies even the most judicious efforts at dialogue and reform.

Americans have over the past couple of centuries enshrined the concept of government as a creation of the common consent of the governed. Although the leaders we select may occasionally be creatures of entrenched political and economic interests who see representative government as nothing more than a ready mechanism for power, profit, and plunder—or are simply outright fools not worthy of our trust—we have learned that elections are by far the best method available to select whom we want to govern. We need to remember that the ballot box is an expression of our national priorities, not a place for our petty vendettas to play out. Perhaps we are today too oddly jaded, too overly sophisticated, and too bizarrely suspicious of one another to do anything other than celebrate our treasured individuality. If this is so, we likely deserve the dismal future of governmental failure peeking out over the horizon because we can’t see beyond the tips of our own precious noses—and remember that we are all Americans.

I hope we can stop treating our neighbors across our nation as strangers and enemies. The incredible efforts of those struggling to deal with the catastrophic effects of Hurricane Harvey should be a lesson to us all. Moreover, we should recognize that, for all its problems both past and present, our government—federal, state, and local—is doing incredible work to help the victims of this storm regroup and recover. We can—and must—build upon this fine example of sacrifice, hard work, and cooperation to deal with the many other problems facing our nation. To continue to throw rocks at one another because our values or priorities may differ is to wallow if what separates us rather than focus on the responsibilities we all have to our country and to one another.

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Doom and Gloom For The Democrats

Over the span of human history individuals and groups have found it advantageous to predict disaster. A sense of impending catastrophe motivates your followers, creates some temporary group cohesion, and calls into question the intelligence and motivations of those who are against you. If you can convince others that the world as we know it is about to end, the resulting crisis atmosphere also bestows enormous power to both manipulate and intimidate your opponents to reach your desired ends.

There are, however, two problems inherent in this approach. If the world doesn’t end in a reasonably short time, those who were willing to temporarily line up behind you are apt to quickly lose all faith because they think you a fool. Worse yet, if the disaster you predicted is not averted, those who put their trust in your skills and judgment will banish you from the tribe.

Now that we are finishing the seventh month of the Trump presidency, I believe we are seeing this dynamic play out—in a big way.

Watching the continuing vilification of Hillary Clinton since last November has been as transfixing as a train wreck. Her transformation from putative President-Elect to pariah has been both quick and merciless. Those who once touted her competence and celebrated her nomination are now often openly contemptuous of both her record and campaign. As comforting as the fervent belief in Russian chicanery is for many Democrats who are still shell-shocked by the election results and pining away for impeachment, the legacy of Hillary Clinton will always be that she somehow lost the election to a man who was widely considered unelectable—and embodies the repudiation of their party’s core beliefs. A fall from grace so swift and precipitous is almost without precedent in American politics.

In addition, President Trump’s dogged pursuit of his agendas on trade, immigration, healthcare, regulation, and the environment in the face of nearly universal opposition from the entrenched government bureaucracy and mainstream media has provided an instructive lesson regarding the limitations of crisis creation. Although this early phase of Trump’s administration has been an incredible uphill slog with a mix of both victories and defeats, the self-regarding Washington bubble is rapidly deflating. After all the supremely confident pre-election assurances that the changes Trump advocated would lead to instant and total catastrophe, the Democratic Party doomsayers seem stupefied. The facts that the sun still rises, jobs are being both created and reclaimed, and the lives of those outside of Washington-area zip codes are, by and large, either unaffected or improved since the Inauguration continues to erode their tattered credibility—and leaves them scrambling for a new message.

Consequently, Democrats face an existential question: If your leader has failed you and the predicted disaster has not occurred and validated your predictions, where do you go from here? This is clearly the problem that is roiling the Democratic Party at the moment—and causing a lot of doom and gloom among the Party’s faithful. Even worse, Bernie Sanders’ true believers and the stubborn remnants of the business-friendly Clinton wing are engaged in a self-destructive battle that does little to advance a coherent and compelling message—which is why no one seems to be able to understand where the Democratic Party now stands. Wistful efforts to anoint blank slate candidates such as Senator Kamala Harris are only further evidence of the ideological confusion that must be somehow crafted into a winning platform for 2018 and beyond. Winning Democratic leadership must come from the trenches—not a high-priced fundraiser in the Hamptons.

Waiting for a miracle—a pile of Russian gold in Donald Trump’s garage or a birth certificate proving that he was born in Moscow (wouldn’t that be ironic?)—is not going to save the Democratic Party. Nor is it a good idea for leadership to continually denounce all the remaining Democratic apostates who are still pro-choice, work somewhere other than a tech company, government agency, or non-profit organization, and (gasp!) sometimes meekly suggest that personal responsibility is more helpful than government handouts.

To fashion a winning coalition the Democratic Party needs new leaders who will rebuild trust that transcends party lines, offer solutions that are affordable, empower individuals rather than government or interest groups, and include rather than divide. Whether this is possible in the short term is questionable given the internecine divisions that now exist within the Party, but one can only hope that it will somehow be possible—someday soon.

Is President Trump “Gaslighting” The Democrats?

The Democrats have stuck to a single, overriding narrative since Donald Trump’s stunning election last November: This man is crazy. I am beginning to suspect that this viewpoint might be missing by a mile—he could, in fact, be crazy like a fox.

“Gaslighting” is a slang term derived from the famous 1944 film starring Ingrid Bergman and Charles Boyer, and its various definitions boil down to this: Engaging in actions designed to drive someone insane through misdirection or intimidation. As unseemly as it was to the political class who considered him an oafish outsider with no chance of winning, Donald Trump proved to be a master of manipulation during the primary and general election campaigns, driving his opponents to the heights of exasperation with derisive nicknames (“Little Marco” and “Crooked Hillary” spring immediately to mind), inflammatory Tweets, and barbed responses designed to needle his opponents to the point where they became rattled and lost focus. We saw this strategy work again and again during both the Republican and Presidential debates. Few seemed to notice the method beneath Trump’s seeming madness—all the while assuring themselves he had no chance of winning—and were shocked when he vaulted over the aghast political establishment and won the Presidency.

Not much has changed since Donald Trump took his place in the Oval Office. In fact, both Republicans and Democrats have often been confused and unamused because President Trump has seemed to go out of his way to pick fights where conflict could easily have been avoided. Very often these fights were over relatively inconsequential matters, the size of his crowd at the Inauguration being a perfect example. Many Executive Orders, such as Trump’s attempts to restrict immigration from mostly Muslim countries, were typically seen as red meat thrown to his slobbering base of “Deplorables”, and immediately provoked a race to the courthouse by his opponents to seek restraining orders, which were promptly and repeatedly granted. Trump’s efforts to “repeal and replace” Obamacare have also proved a slog that still has many difficult and rocky challenges ahead—with no guarantee of victory. Every time Trump has been proved wrong or stopped in his tracks, the Progressive Left has chortled knowingly—certain of their ultimate victory over this buffoonish upstart.

However, I am beginning to wonder if we are seeing the greatest long game in recent Presidential history unfold before our very eyes.

First off, President Trump’s words, actions, and demeanor have served to transform the loyal opposition into the unhinged opposition. The shouting and foot stomping of the self-styled “Resistance” have only served to marginalize the Social Justice Warriors, and many on the Left have become so incensed that they have abandoned all nuance or objectivity when proclaiming their undying opposition to Donald Trump and the very air he breathes.

Engaging in continuing venomous attacks on anyone who might appear to be the least supportive of a position taken by Mr. Trump wins very few new allies, and completely abandoning any pretense of conversation and compromise has likely further weakened the Democrats. For example, recent Democratic rants about purging the party of pro-lifers, which some polls indicate comprise fully 25% of the party’s supporters, is a fantastically self-destructive exercise that only makes sense to those who have lost any ability to respect differing opinions. Vindictive rage is never going to help anyone make new friends or influence people, and the fact that not everyone seems to share their seething anger has prompted many progressive Democrats to hurl yet more inflammatory accusations at the average American regarding their ingrained racism, xenophobia, misogyny, and overall awfulness. Seems like a pretty dumb way to win over hearts and minds—so score one for Mr. Trump when the 2018 midterm elections come around.

In addition, it is only now becoming apparent to many that, off the radar and with little fanfare, President Trump has been reviewing, vetting, and prepping a huge slate of nominees for federal judgeships.

How big of a deal is this? Really big, I would say. During his entire 8 years in office, President Obama put roughly 329 judges on the federal bench; at this moment, only a few months into his term, President Trump already has over 120 vacant seats to fill. In four—or perhaps eight—years Donald Trump could put a conservative stamp on the federal courts that could last for the next forty or so years. Add to this the likelihood that Trump will likely nominate at least two more Supreme Court Justices, and it quickly becomes blindingly clear that while so many were marching around the nation wearing silly hats and chanting about “crazy Donald”, he was quietly laying the foundations of a judicial revolution. I am not entirely certain how this will play out in the long run, but President Trump is quickly transforming the political DNA of America. Although his vociferous political opponents will insist that this transformation is more akin to a cancerous mutation, our entire national conversation has shifted in a startlingly short period of time.

Which brings us to the recent firing of F.B.I. Director James Comey.

We are very much in the “too soon to know” phase of whether this is simply bare-knuckled Washington politics or something more nefarious, but one need only read the Chicken Little commentaries in The New York Times, Washington Post, and Salon—or listen to the apocalyptic press conferences on Capitol Hill—to know that President Trump has once more driven his political opponents to dizzying heights of indignation. What, of course, is yet more frustrating for the Democrats is that they have been yowling for Comey’s scalp for months because he “threw” the Presidential election to Trump with his somewhat bizarre investigative techniques surrounding Hillary Clinton’s email scandal—so the Democrats end up seeming to disagree simply to disagree. It must be maddening to now be defending the very man whom you believe cost your party the White House, and this seems to me to be yet one more example of President Trump driving his opponents stark raving mad with his actions.

If they keep on in this manner—the Democrats huffing and puffing and trying to blow down President Trump—the symbol of the Democratic Party might soon need to change from a donkey to a straitjacket. It is impossible to maintain this fever pitch of rage for long before average Americans will begin to start tuning out the overwrought rhetoric and getting on with their daily lives. Unless Trump’s political opponents can very soon find some scandalous fire to justify all their enraged smoke, the Republican Party—with Donald Trump in the lead—is going to roll right over the exhausted and disheartened Democrats in 2018.

Gaslighting, indeed….

The Wonderful Frustration Of Being An America

It seems like all the air is being sucked out of our lives by the relentless focus so many now seem to have on broadcasting their political beliefs at the highest possible volume every moment of every day. It tires me out just to watch and listen.

We all know whom these angry folks are protesting with every fiber of their being; President Trump is, after all, the focus of practically every conversation these days. However, what honestly most concerns me is the overwrought reactions of these disgruntled millions. Many of them seem to have forgotten that ours is a government that stretches like a rubber band—sometimes near to the breaking point—before snapping back to a more reasonable and sustainable state.

Donald Trump is the duly-elected President of our nation, and voters will have an opportunity to indirectly vote on his administration and policies in the 2018 midterm elections—and more directly decide upon his future in November of 2020. It might be the case, as some publications and pundits claim, that the results of these upcoming elections will reflect widespread “buyer’s remorse” over ever putting Mr. Trump within the hallowed walls of the Oval Office. However, it might also be true that all the current media and Internet hooting and hollering about the (insert inflammatory insult of your choice HERE) in the White House does not accurately reflect the will of the electorate, and President Trump will enjoy an expanded mandate to pursue his agenda after the next rounds of elections. Either way, the will of the voters will be heard, and our democratic system will march on.

If I were to make a prediction regarding the next several years, President Trump will change much when it comes to the vast unelected regulatory and administrative state that has sprung up over the past half century and now runs a great deal our daily lives because those agencies and departments can be significantly altered or swept aside through executive actions. In addition, he certainly will leave his imprint on the Supreme Court and the Federal court system through the nominations he will make.

Nonetheless, the basic structure of our country that is enshrined in foundational documents such as the Constitution and the Bill of Rights is impervious—and rightly so. They might have been a bunch of slave-holding, rich white men who were products of a time far less enlightened than our own, but the founders of our nation still somehow managed to craft governing documents that have withstood the test of time and facilitated the growth of the United States into an economic and military colossus that—for all its flaws—provides more freedom to more people than any nation in world history. One President cannot change that.

However, we can unthinkingly poison our civic life and rend the social fabric of our country by continuing our derisive absolutism when it comes to the government reforms that Mr. Trump promised to implement if elected. The very nature of our system of government is, if I may be forgiven for paraphrasing a classic Rolling Stones song, that you don’t always get what you want—but you just might find that you get what you need.

Before America’s Les Miserables go screaming out into the streets to protest whatever next arouses their fury, I suggest they have a beer—maybe even more than one. The wails of our nation’s overwrought Social Justice Warriors notwithstanding, President Trump will not be able to grind up his political opponents and sell their remains as cat food. Moreover, despite the fondest wishes of social conservatives, we are not going to return to some misty memory version of mid-20th century America—no poodle skirts or penny loafers, please.

We will instead, thundering rhetoric on both sides to the contrary, continue to do what our country has always done except in those rarest moments of true national emergency: muddle toward the middle of the road. If we can stop hurling insults at one another for a moment (Racist! Snowflake! Nazi! Libtard!), one can easily imagine changes in our nation over the next year or so that are a lot less frightening than all the frightening rhetoric might lead many to believe:

  • Federal agencies and programs that deliver little actual value for the dollar will be shrunk or simply pruned away—which does not seem unreasonable.
  • Illegal immigrants who break the law or cheat the system to obtain public benefits will be deported—which does not seem unreasonable.
  • Those illegal immigrants brought here as children or who are able to demonstrate a significant record of law-abiding productivity will be offered a path to permanent residence or eventual citizenship—which does not seem unreasonable.
  • Those hyper-vigilant to the even mildest perceived slight, particularly those easily infuriated cohorts of students and faculty on our college campuses, will need to recognize that surpassingly few disagreements are mortal wounds and more than one point of view can easily occupy the same intellectual space—which does not seem unreasonable.
  • Healthcare expenses will be reined in as we make the difficult transition from a state-sponsored to a free market system of insurance and care delivery, and many patients will be required to take a more active role in managing their own care while new mandates are forcing insurers and providers to be more efficient—which does not seem unreasonable.
  • Our elected leaders will need to explain that, although government certainly has a legal and moral obligation to intercede when physical harm is threatened or inflicted, there is simply no way to guarantee that anyone’s actions or choices can be entirely free of thoughtful criticism or outright rejection by others based on their own deeply-held values—which does not seem unreasonable.
  • Moreover, there is simply no way that government can be expected to silence every loud-mouthed jerk in the land, so we might all have to sometimes deal with idiots and remember that sticks and stones may break our bones, but words will never hurt us—which does not seem unreasonable.

Despite the growing fears of change that are warping the perspectives of many, there are—when we take a deep breath and consider all the options—many paths forward that are perfectly sensible if we can only remember that the daily business of democracy is not about total victory or abject defeat. Most often our political process is a herky-jerky back and forth that eventually arrives at a consensus that will leave most groups and individuals a little dissatisfied with the outcome because it is not exactly what they wanted.

This is, for many, the truly maddening aspect of democracy—no one is able to actually win, and no one really ever loses—but it is precisely this that gives our political system its remarkable resilience. Unlike highly efficient totalitarian governments throughout history that inevitably have resulted in cruel oppression followed by violent revolution, the American political system is designed to frustrate ideologues and fanatics who are able to view those with differing ideas only with hatred and contempt.

In fact, the daily rants of the ideological purists might be the clearest possible signal that our system of government is functioning just as it should. If either the Social Justice Warriors or Paleolithic Conservatives were dancing in the streets a few months after an election, I would be seriously concerned about the health of our nation. All the whining and wailing since last November is a comforting sign that our great American democracy is alive and well—and frustrating everyone just a little.

Those hunkered down for the apocalypse they seem certain is now upon us might feel a bit better about our nation and its people if they just went out and talked to some of the fellow Americans they apparently seem to loathe. If they do, they just might find that they get something we all so desperately need at times: a bracing dose of contact with the many perfectly kind and thoughtful citizens of our nation whose only crime is holding onto a contrary opinion that is based on their own judgment, values, and life experience. These conversations might also help both sides to understand lives different from their own and find some middle ground based on our common humanity.

We may still disagree with one another, but hopefully we can also find a connection through our shared frustration—that no one seems to realize that we have all the perfect answers to every issue facing our country. More than anything, that arrogant belief in our own righteousness might be the glue that truly binds us together as Americans. This also explains why our political system is designed to make it impossible to impose our will on everyone else.

It’s really for the best. Trust me. As annoyed as you sometimes might be today, our system of governance will guarantee that you will have a nation to call home tomorrow—which should make all the frustrations of being an American well worth it.

The Politics Of Immigration Policy

 

The pundits and pollsters are glad to continually hash over that which divides us politically. Race, religion, gender, region, income, education, and sexual orientation: The list of all that fragments our nation is seemingly without end. Whenever an issue arises or an election is upon us, we are bombarded with carefully parsed percentages describing the depths of our disagreements.

Given that we are now constantly encouraged by the media and academics to view every matter that affects our lives and our world through the lens of identity politics, it is unsurprising that our Pavlovian reaction to controversy is to focus on the superficial. This problem is exacerbated by the plain fact that analyzing an opinion survey is a seductively lazy way to explain our nation and its people. It saves the slothful journalist or professor from the bother of having to go out into the world to talk to actual people and—despite well-documented problems with the reliability and validity of poll data—still carries with it a whiff of scientific credibility that captures the interest of those inclined to believe one way or another anyway. Nothing makes our morning cup of coffee taste quite so sweet as a heaping spoonful of confirmation bias to start the day.

The Trumpian policy changes regarding illegal immigrants and refugees, which have sparked a good deal of protest and debate, do not fit very neatly into the poll-driven narratives that dominate so many of our discussions. We are, except for the descendants of Native Americans, a nation full of foreign DNA, and our viewpoints about who should or should not be allowed to enter or reside here are typically informed by the narratives of our own families.

My father, for example, spent most of World War II as forced labor under the Nazis, was liberated by American troops, and was desperate to come to the United States to avoid returning to a Poland under Soviet domination. My life obviously would have been very different if someone had decided he was a security risk and denied him a visa, and my own notions about the need to admit people fleeing political persecution are obviously affected by my own family’s history. My beliefs transcend any facile explanations based on my race, age, gender, religion—or any other characteristic that is supposed to predict my behavior. It is the same for most Americans. We are far more than the sum of our labels, and basic common sense and goodness inform the beliefs of the vast majority of us.

The estimated 11 million illegal immigrants now in the United States conjure up a range of emotions that don’t fall into nice little boxes based on our identities. Some who are here illegally are fleeing the horrors of war zones; some simply overstayed their tourist visas. Therefore, waving signs and demanding that all be allowed to remain does not account for the merits—or lack thereof—associated with each individual case.

In addition, simplistic sloganeering and hashtag hosannas fail to respect the grim necessity of deporting those who engage in or support criminal activity. Sad to say, not everyone who crosses our borders is a dewy-eyed innocent seeking a better life, and those who are concerned with the rights of immigrants—whether legal or illegal—and refugees undercut their own credibility when they insist upon open borders, blanket amnesties, or endlessly deferred deportation actions. Perhaps this is just the ex-New Yorker in me speaking, but it is worth remembering that terrorism is not something that only happens somewhere else.

One obvious wildcard in the debates now raging about the problem of illegal/undocumented immigrants in the United States is the status of those who were brought here as children. Although there are those who believe they should be deported with the rest, most people are sensible enough to recognize that these cases merit special consideration. If you are an adult whose parents, for example, snuck you in with them when you were two years old and your only memories are of living in America, forcing you to return to a country that you do not even know is heartless. Whether this accommodation will feature a path to citizenship for some who qualify is a matter for discussion, but reasonable people will eventually help us arrive at a solution—if we can just stop screaming and start talking.

Illegal immigration is a problem, and it is not a sign of inherent hatred or bigotry to want to assert control over our borders. There is, of course, a loud cohort of immigration advocates who view national boundaries as atavistic throwbacks to our tribal heritages, but their views are certainly in the minority. Most Americans want to know who is coming in, why they are here, where they are staying, and when they are leaving.

If someone desires to remain in the United States for humanitarian or political reasons, set procedures should be in place to evaluate their requests, and the decision should be made expeditiously based on established regulations and law. Most Americans are willing to provide the short-term financial, medical, and housing support needed by those seeking a bridge to a new life in America, but those who take advantage of our good will likely will find the going a bit rougher under Trump administration policies that will certainly be less inclined to open-ended assistance compared to past administrations.

Having lost functional control of our borders many decades ago, we now have quite a problem—or rather 11 million of them—on our hands. Some will need to return to their countries; some will be allowed to stay. However messy and upsetting this process will be for many—and problems are certain to occur—the alternative is to continue on as we have, which is the mistake that put us in the spot where we are today.

Few discussions are well-served by an insistent focus on insular identity politics, but resolving our immigration crisis is certainly one where we need to consider the needs and safety of our country as a whole without the privileging the needs of one group over another. Given that not everyone who wants to reside in the United States can be allowed to do so, a number of people will be dissatisfied with any fix to our current broken immigration system. However, if we can resist the blandishments of those who, for reasons both fair and foul, want to use this issue as yet one more excuse to drag us into the disheartening and destructive muck of identity politics, we might be able to finally create a sensible system with a fair balance between providing access to our great nation while ensuring our security in a hostile world.

On a closing note, I want to share a purely political observation about President Trump’s immigration orders and make a troubling prediction.

However one feels about the legality and morality of his actions, it seems to me that President Trump is now prodding Democrats toward their own hanging—and he’s even suckering them into purchasing the rope. His immigration orders (all temporary or easily modified, by the way) have encouraged a great many Democrats to loudly and unequivocally support unrestricted immigration from nations known to support or harbor terrorists—any helpful nuance has already been lost in the media echo chamber.

Unfortunately, it is certain that someone is going to once again shoot up a shopping mall, bomb a public event, or otherwise slaughter innocents after declaring themselves a jihadi on social media. The stinging public statements by many pro-immigration Democrats already pushing against the headwinds of a challenging 2018 Midterm election cycle will soon be prominently and tirelessly repeated in campaign ads and Trump stump speeches in order to tag them as naive terrorist enablers—just watch it happen and don’t be surprised. The flustered denials of Democrats trying to win elections in the broad middle swath of the nation will be swept away in the Trump Tweetstorms that follow—along with more seats in state legislatures, state houses, the Senate, and the Congress.

I hope that I may be forgiven a bold and perhaps unpopular bit of prognostication, but if the Democratic Party—already on its heels after years of cumulative electoral defeats at the local, state, and federal levels—does not wake up, stop wailing, and start governing, it runs a great risk of being reduced within a few short years to a regional political party concentrated in a few major urban centers along the east and west coasts.

Given that our system works best and is most accountable when there are two viable political parties available to voters, this would be a terrible shame. Perhaps a reinvigorated Democratic Party—or something entirely new—will rise out of the ashes of what will remain of the tattered Democratic coalition, but it could be the case that we are in for a protracted period of one party rule, which I believe would be a real detriment for our democracy. Immigration policy will not be the only facet of our lives to be affected in the years to come, so the possible lack of a political counterweight to the changes afoot should worry anyone who believes balanced debate and discussion is essential to the health of our nation.