From healthcare to guns, America has actual national emergencies. A border wall isn’t one of them | Sean P. Quinlan

Mexico–United States barrier at the border of Tijuana, Mexico and San Diego, USA. The crosses represent migrants who died in the crossing attempt. Some identified, some not. Surveillance tower in the background. WikiMedia Commons Image by Tomascastelazo.

A sinking Titanic is a disaster enough.

Watching the captain rearrange the deckchairs as it starts to slip beneath the waves is yet another level of horror.  And in this instance, the deck-chair arranger supreme is our very own “stable genius,” President Donald Trump.

Sean P. Quinlan (Capital-Star file photo)

So it is with Trump’s obsession, and it is just that, with building a wall on the southern border with Mexico. The Titanic is the entire range of pressing issues that everyday Americans are having to cope with on a daily basis, while the deckchairs represent our Commander-in-Chief’s tiresome, tedious wall.

Even now, two years plus into his first term, he is prepared to by-pass Congress and start dicing up Constitutional checks and balances by declaring the most spurious of “national emergencies” – all the while shoulder-shrugged by a Republican party that is so supine to his nonsense and outrages that they may as well be comatose.

There is no national emergency at the southern border.  If there was, then why wait over two years from entering office while holding substantial majorities in the House and Senate, especially when he has squawked endlessly about the need to build a wall? Why head to a luxury resort to golf the weekend away after declaring it?

Conversely, it is no emergency for the U.S. to honor its historical and legal obligations by accepting legitimate refugees across the border who have fled violence, poverty and exploitation.

When Trump finally opted for a national emergency, having been roundly outmaneuvered by Nancy Pelosi per his part federal shutdown, Trump even had the gall to make a Rose Garden announcement in which he said with reference to his declaration: “I really don’t need to do this.”

To which the choir replied: “We know.”

Of course, the real emergencies in the US lie elsewhere, despite Trump’s magical mystery tour through the more addled depths of his tormented mind and his fixation on “medieval” solutions to twenty-first century questions of immigration and refugees.

Only the most willfully and maliciously ignorant can any longer deny that climate change represents an existential threat to both the United States and the rest of the world.

Living on a planet that is increasingly showing extreme and tempestuous patters of weather, rising sea levels and experiencing ferocious large-scale forest fires are way more of an emergency than a four-year old, confused and scared Guatemalan clutching a teddy-bear and turning up at the border with her family.

The dystopian view that Trump has of what he thinks constitutes an emergency, and what is actually an emergency, is near incomprehensible.

When then, Mr. President, are you going to declare a national emergency about the plague of gun violence and deaths that fills our communities with the uniquely chronic and American dread of seeing the first ticker-tape reports on the news that the latest gun-toting madman has visited your kid’s school or your wife’s place of work?

When then, Mr. President, are you going to declare a national emergency about health-care costs in the US, especially so when millions of Americans regularly can’t pay for basic prescription costs or file their third medical bill related bankruptcy?

Prescription drug, student loan, day care and elder care costs. Crumbling infrastructure. Third world mass transit. A falling life expectancy rate!

The list goes on.  Where is the national emergency regarding the obscene rate of incarcerations in the US, whereby 75% of those presently behind bars have not actually been convicted of a crime.?  How about the Flint, Michigan water crisis where those residents still don’t have clean drinking water after four long years of inaction? Have we all forgotten the decimated American island territory, Puerto Rico? “Here, have some paper towels.”

Ah, but what about his declaration re the opioid epidemic, some of Trump’s more coherent MAGA-mob may cry?  Well, sure-enough his administration declared a public-health emergency in May 2017, but that is not a national emergency, something that has more power still.  And let’s not forget, “Build the wall” is a much catchier rally sound-bite than “Effectively resolve the ongoing opioid crisis.”

The truth is, Trump pays lip-service to things like opioid epidemics, gun violence and sky-rocketing medical bills because the wall is utterly synonymous with the megalomaniac’s name.

Hence the “crisis” on the border gets national emergency status, while the rest does not.

Trump made his name as a builder (and as a trust fund baby turned crook, charlatan, philanderer, stiffer of workers and gameshow host) first and foremost.

He yearns for the ultimate piece of construction to bear his name for when he has, much to the world’s relief, left this Earthly realm. Add to that how his much vaunted “base” still clings to the simplistic battle-cry about the wall, and the Trumpian magical mystery tour churns on regardless.

The irony is of course, Trump is a national emergency in his own right. But at least the deck chairs appear to be in order.

Capital-Star Opinion contributor Sean P. Quinlan, of Camp Hill, Pa., is an attorney and a former Democratic candidate for Pennsylvania’s 87th state House District. His work appears biweekly. 

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