Our national emergency
So, we are more than 3 weeks into a partial government shutdown (which is now the longest in our nation’s history) over Mr. Trump’s frustrated yearning to build his wall across our southern border, with 800,000 federal workers not receiving their paychecks as a result — many of these public servants are furloughed, the rest working without pay. Mr. Trump claims this is the result of a dire security crisis which may well warrant his declaring a national emergency to get this wall built.
Yet available sources indicate that the influx of undocumented immigrants is currently at its lowest point since 1971, that drugs are getting through our southern border mainly through legal points of entry, and that, according to our own State Department, no terrorists — none — are known to have entered our country by illegally crossing our southern border. So how is this suddenly such a dire “emergency” warranting a government shutdown over the issue of this wall which he claims is so desperately needed now? Surely efforts to upgrade our currently problematic immigration policies and outdated system, and to bolster border security in smart and practical ways (e.g., increasing staffing levels as warranted, repairing existing stretches of fence and wall in need, utilizing available technological improvements, and so on) seem warranted, but a “big beautiful” wall? Seriously?
And, ironically, this current shutdown is actually impairing the ability of many of our agencies (e.g., the Department of Homeland Security; the Coast Guard; TSA and other FAA workers; the Food and Drug Administration; the National Weather Service) tasked with protecting our nation in terms of terrorism, drugs, aviation safety, food safety, and the various other issues facing its citizens, thus serving to increase chances of potentially disastrous incidents occurring. And the damage to our economy, currently estimated a $1.2 billion per day, is progressively increasing each day.
And should Mr. Trump decide to move forward with his idea of declaring this a “national emergency”, reportedly funds to build this wall would be taken from existing disaster relief funds designated to help our fellow citizens in Puerto Rico and California who are still struggling to recover from the devastating natural disasters which they recently experienced. Think about that for a moment.
I remember the unrelenting criticisms of President Obama’s “imperial presidency” whenever he would take or even consider unilateral actions, e.g., by signing Executive Orders – but oddly no voices from those quarters have been heard over the past 2 years. Why is that? And what an amazing precedent this would set. Perhaps a future president would then be able to declare a “national emergency” over gun violence, and thus proceed to confiscate guns? Or one over climate change, and shut down fossil fuel industries? And these are just two examples of the very slippery slope which such a move would entail.
History has shown over and over that when any leader makes a concerted effort to portray something like a “national emergency” when it is not (i.e., to manufacture/fabricate a “crisis”) in order to justify bypassing normal governmental mechanisms blocking him so he can do what he wants anyway, this is ultimately an effort to seize power, and is thus a step toward undermining a democratic system and moving toward autocracy.
So, yes — America does seem to be facing a true national emergency. But it is not the one which Mr. Trump is trying to sell us, and which most Republicans in Congress are meekly enabling. It is the nonstop warping of an assault upon truth in the service of this terrifyingly immense ego and its insatiable need for power and adulation currently at the helm of our great nation.
For the sake of our country, we all must learn to see through the con and all the words designed to inflame our fears and use them to manipulate us, and to relentlessly question and fact-check the many claims presented to us by Mr. Trump, whose pattern of twisting facts and shamelessly making things up to suit his needs is legendary. America is depending on us all right now to be the “informed citizenry” needed to protect and sustain this precious democracy now being undermined from within.
Dale E. Buonocore,