I’m going to say something controversial: I don’t think President Donald Trump actually wants to ruin people’s lives. As much as he thrives on petty humiliations and breaking his self-made enemies (note: he’s not actually good at the latter), he doesn’t actually enjoy destroying the lives of hundreds of thousands of people.
This isn’t to say he has good ideas, or that he can’t convince himself its ok to do so, as in the case with Syrian refugees and most illegal immigrants. I think he likes the power, and is excellent and avoiding the ramifications of using it, especially if it reflects negatively upon him. But when faced with the idea of destroying DACA, he’s reluctant, which is why he’s punting.
He handed over today’s announcement to Jeff Sessions, who actually does enjoy this, but in the broader sense is giving it over to Congress, telling them they have six months to come up with a legislative solution for the 800,000 people eligible for Dreamer protection.
This actually makes sense. In theory, the legislative solution is the correct one. Most people in the country find it monstrous to kick these people out. Having permanent laws for them, protected by the Constitution, makes sense. That’s why President Obama spent years working with Congress to get something done, and they almost did, before the right wing revolted and Marco Rubio remembered he had absolutely zero courage.
It was only then that Dictator-for-Life Obamafuhrer established protections for a certain class of immigrants via executive order. This wasn’t a solution anyone liked, but since the alternative was to maintain a status quo that nobody liked until such a day came that the GOP wasn’t in thrall to the worst, it seemed reasonable.
And now? Now we have to hope that Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell find the courage and skill to no longer be in thrall to the worst. Sessions and the odious Stephen Miller are I think they gambling on Congress to not be able to square the circle between the hard racist right and those who want cheap labor. And I think Ryan and Mitch are hoping that, with everything else they have to do, they can just sort of ignore this and let DACA die.
It isn’t ideal for them, but the hard right has made killing DACA a primary goal. Politico reports today that Bannon is gearing up for war, as he puts it, because he’s a baby-soft coward who thinks that blogging is akin to physical courage. They are ready to go after anyone who supports DACA or any version of it.
To me, that’s incredibly telling. Everyone eligible for DACA has been lawful, good members of their community, and ready to contribute to the United States (many have already literally served their country). While illegal immigration is a problem, almost no one thinks that deporting these children, many of whom don’t even speak the language of what Bannon would consider their “native” country, is a good idea. Their home is the United States.
And that’s the point. Cruelty, here, is the point–cruelty in the name of white nationalism. It is what animates Bannon, Miller, Sessions, and many of their voters. It is important enough to spook Ryan and Mitch, an even enough to give Trump pause. That Politico article contains the quintessence of Trumpism.
The president is buying himself time on a difficult matter and has complained privately to friends and associates that he has few good options. He doesn’t like ending the program for the “kids” but also chafes at hearing that “New York Democrats” are powering his administration, according to several people who have spoken to the president in recent days.
“Well, I don’t like ruining the lives of 800,000 kids, but on the other hand, some people are saying things about me I don’t like. What choice do I have?”
That he didn’t end it outright, and instead passed it to Congress to do so, is what passes for courage with Trump. We’ll see if the GOP can muster any of their own.