Thursday, November 16, 2023

#320 / Trying To Scare Us? Should We Be Scared?

The picture above, available online, didn't appear in the hard copy version of the article I have just linked. It seems like a suitable illustration of that article, though, which outlines our former president's steely-eyed determination to "get tough" on immigration should Mr. Trump be reelected to the presidency next year. 

The article I am talking about appears in the Sunday, November 12, 2023, edition of The New York Times. In the hard copy version, the article was titled, "Trump's '25 Immigration Plan: Giant Camps, Mass Deportation." The online article has a slightly different headline, but the text is the same. The Times, and reporters Charlie Savage, Maggie Haberman, and Jonathan Swan, seem to be trying to scare us - and maybe we should be scared! Their objective, pretty clearly, is to hope that we might be scared into understanding that the very last vote we should contemplate casting would be a vote to send Donald J. Trump back to the White House. 

Here is an example of what I am talking about, the following text coming from the article: 

Former President Donald J. Trump is planning an extreme expansion of his first-term crackdown on immigration if he returns to power in 2025 — including preparing to round up undocumented people already in the United States on a vast scale and detain them in sprawling camps while they wait to be expelled.

The plans would sharply restrict both legal and illegal immigration in a multitude of ways.

Mr. Trump wants to revive his first-term border policies, including banning entry by people from certain Muslim-majority nations and reimposing a Covid 19-era policy of refusing asylum claims — though this time he would base that refusal on assertions that migrants carry other infectious diseases like tuberculosis.

He plans to scour the country for unauthorized immigrants and deport people by the millions per year.

To help speed mass deportations, Mr. Trump is preparing an enormous expansion of a form of removal that does not require due process hearings. To help Immigration and Customs Enforcement carry out sweeping raids, he plans to reassign other federal agents and deputize local police officers and National Guard soldiers voluntarily contributed by Republican-run states.

To ease the strain on ICE detention facilities, Mr. Trump wants to build huge camps to detain people while their cases are processed and they await deportation flights. And to get around any refusal by Congress to appropriate the necessary funds, Mr. Trump would redirect money in the military budget, as he did in his first term to spend more on a border wall than Congress had authorized.

The constellation of Mr. Trump’s 2025 plans amounts to an assault on immigration on a scale unseen in modern American history. Millions of undocumented immigrants would be barred from the country or uprooted from it years or even decades after settling here.... There is no mistaking the breadth and ambition of the shift Mr. Trump is eyeing (emphasis added).

There is even more scary stuff in the article, so track it down and read it in its entirety if you can. 

I applaud The Times for trying to give voters a "heads up" on the kind of immigration policies that former president Trump would seek to deploy if he were reelected to the presidency. The Times' reporters are relying on interviews with people "in the know." I am betting that they are right about Trump's plans.

I am not, however, though I am glad to get the "heads up," certain that the "Scared Straight" strategy that seems to be utilized in the article is an effective way to get voters to go for the ABT ticket next November. "ABT," of course, means "Anybody But Trump." Using "scare tactics" as a way to motivate human behavior isn't, in my opinion, the best prescription for ultimate success, and particularly in politics. One opinion column in the same edition of The Times, in fact, urges that "A Trump-Biden Rematch Is the Election We Need." If that's what we get, let's not talk ourselves into hysteria - or, more accurately, talk ourselves into thinking that the only power we have is the power of our vote. Should we vote, and lose, the world does not then end! Totalitarianism is not then enacted!

If former president Trump were to win reelection to the presidency in 2024, his proposed action agenda on immigration is only part of the kind of totalitarian program that he has indicated he would seek to impose. Again, there is plenty of pretty "scary" stuff on our former president's agenda. But.... I have a question that I want to pose: Should we be scared?

I want to urge that we must not to talk ourselves into "fear" about what might await us in the future if we end up with a new Trump presidency. While "fear" can motivate, it can also immobilize, and I would not want the public to be immobilized, and I would not want us to tell ourselves that we have hit the "game over" stage for democratic self-government if Trump is returned to the presidency. 

The theme of my blog postings - as those who regularly read them know - is that WE are the government. We have a system of "self-government," and elections are only a part of the process. Electing a "President," is NOT making a decision to ratify the ideas and inclinations of the person so elected. Political and legal obstacles exist to any totalitarian attempt to impose the kind of policies that Mr. Trump has indicated that he wants to establish. 

Jamelle Bouie's column in The Times, appearing several days after the article I have been discussing, gets at the issue. Bouie's column is titled, "Checks and Balances Are for Losers." That is the "hard copy" version. Online, if you can get by the paywall, Bouie's column is announced as follows: "Trump Wants Us to Know He Will Stop at Nothing in 2025." Trump would like everyone to think that his election, should that occur, is something that transforms our system, and gives him a green light to do all the things he is talking about doing. 

My advice is to read the articles that outline what former president Trump wants to do - and then to think about what WE will do if that former president is, in fact, reelected. We can, in fact, use the plans announced by our former president as a way to argue against his reelection to the presidency, but.... Let's not be scared into telling ourselves that if Mr. Trump is reelected our democracy has been voted out of office. 

Quite the contrary! That's exactly when our system of democratic self-government has to kick into another gear!

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