Donald Trump woke up on Sunday morning and fired off a racist rant targeting four freshman Congresswomen of color. It was not subtle. Trump's tirade would fit right in on any white nationalist message board.
So interesting to see “Progressive” Democrat Congresswomen, who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world (if they even have a functioning government at all), now loudly and viciously telling the people of the United States, the greatest and most powerful Nation on earth, how our government is to be run. Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came. Then come back and show us how it is done. These places need your help badly, you can’t leave fast enough. I’m sure that Nancy Pelosi would be very happy to quickly work out free travel arrangements!
The targets of Trump's tweets were Congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), and Ilhan Omar (D-MN). Trump assumes they are foreign-born because they are not white. But Ocasio-Cortez was born in New York, Pressley was born in Cincinnati, and Tlaib was born in Detroit. Like most Trump tweets, it was inaccurate. Omar was born in Somalia but has been a United States citizen since 2000. Like the other three, Omar was elected to the United States Congress in 2018.
It is their job to tell "the people of the United States...how our government is to be run" because the people of the United States elected them to do that.
Trump has a long history of claiming that non-white people are foreign and then attacking them for their supposed foreignness. He rose to political prominence promoting the conspiracy theory that President Obama was secretly born in Africa.
Now Trump's using his racist rhetoric to insert himself into a feud between Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and the four freshman Congresswomen.
Pelosi fires back
Pelosi quickly rejected Trump's bigoted intervention on her behalf.
When @realDonaldTrump tells four American Congresswomen to go back to their countries, he reaffirms his plan to “Make America Great Again” has always been about making America white again. Our diversity is our strength and our unity is our power. I reject @realDonaldTrump’s xenophobic comments meant to divide our nation. Rather than attack Members of Congress, he should work with us for humane immigration policy that reflects American values. Stop the raids - #FamiliesBelongTogether!
While Pelosi and the four Congresswomen all reject Trump's policies and rhetoric, they have different views on how to effectively oppose the president. This is creating fissures within the Democratic Party.
The immigration split
The dispute between the four Congresswomen and Pelosi began in earnest during the recent debate over border funding. The Trump administration said billions of funding was urgently needed to address the humanitarian crisis on the border.
House leaders, responding to concerns from progressives, crafted a bill that included some restrictions on how the Trump administration could use the money. But Ocasio-Cortez, Pressley, Tlaib, and Omar voted against the House bill anyway because they believed the Trump administration still couldn't be trusted.
Matt Stoller @matthewstollerThis is a bet by Pelosi that @aoc is wrong and that the Trump administration will do the right thing on the border with the money Congress just appropriated. Not a bet I'd make but ok. https://t.co/QRb6Ye28h4
Eventually, the House abandoned even those modest restrictions and passed the Senate version of the bill that provided the Trump administration $4.6 billion in funding with essentially no strings attached. Efforts to modify the Senate bill were thwarted by a group of Democratic moderates. The bill passed the House with more votes from Republicans than Democrats.
Pelosi, in an interview with the New York Times' Maureen Dowd, was dismissive of the four Congresswomen who voted against the initial House bill. "All these people have their public whatever and their Twitter world. But they didn’t have any following. They’re four people and that’s how many votes they got,” Pelosi said.
What happened since house Democrats gave Trump billions for the border
Everything that has happened since Congress approved the new funding suggests the Congresswomen's skepticism about how the money would be used was warranted. When Vice President Pence visited a migrant detention facility this week, reporters saw hundreds of men packed into one foul-smelling cell for days with no ability to shower or brush their teeth or even lay down.
In response, Pence continued to blame Democrats in Congress for the conditions. "[T]he time for action is now and the time for Congress to act to end the flow of families that are coming north from Central America to our border is now," Pence told CNN.
Trump tweeted on Sunday that he had no intention of improving the conditions.
Trump is also touting poor conditions for migrants in campaign ads running on Facebook: "If illegal immigrants are unhappy with the conditions in the quickly built or refitted detention centers, just tell them not to come. All problems solved!"
Over the weekend, the Trump administration said it launched deportation raids in cities across the country.
The impeachment split
Another source of tension between Pelosi and the four Congresswomen is impeachment. Pelosi argues that impeachment is pointless because the Senate will not remove Trump from office. She also argues that impeachment would motivate Trump's base and turn off independent voters from Democrats.
Congresswoman Tlaib disagrees.
Her views are shared by at least 82 House Democrats who publicly support impeachment. They argue that Trump should be impeached because he has committed "high crimes and misdemeanors." No one is above the law and that principle, not short-term political calculations, should guide the party.
Further, impeaching Trump could benefit Democrats on Election Day. It would focus the public on the details of Trump's criminal acts. If the Senate votes against removal, that could motivate the Democratic base to show up at the polls to finish the job.
The silence of the Republicans
By opposing impeachment unless the Senate will remove Trump, Pelosi is effectively ceding all moral authority to Senate Republicans. Her approach means Trump has only committed "high crimes and misdemeanors" if Senate Republicans agree. The events of Sunday illustrates the perils of that approach.
Trump told four Congresswomen of color to "go back" where they came from. Forget that three of Trump's targets were born in the United States. This is unambiguous racism.
As of Sunday evening, no Republican members of Congress have condemned Trump's racist tweets. Trump "knows he can say whatever he likes and face no consequences from the party he has conquered." He has unmoored the Republican Party from even the most rudimentary ethical principles.
But Trump has not conquered the Democratic Party. Many people within the Democratic Party, from elected officials to ordinary voters, want to do anything and everything possible to oppose Trump's lawlessness and bigotry.
As long as the House leadership choose to artificially limit their power based on the decisions of Republicans there will be conflict and tension within the Democratic Party.
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