Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Not Everything is Partisan

I am not saying the acting Attorney General, Sally Yates, refused to defend the Immigration Ban strictly for reasons of legality; what I am saying is that there is no reason on God's green Earth to assume she did. There is no reason for the media and those opposed to Trump to hold her up as some martyr for the cause and turn the issue partisan.

It seems pretty clear from her statement that Yates was personally opposed to the ban, but so is the vast majority of American - even a large part of Trump's constituency. The Executive Order was so broad and poorly defined that all sorts of legal residents are caught up in the web - if you need a source for that, check out the statements of pretty much every Senator, Governor, and sane person in the country. There's probably a solid legal precedent to do what Trump was trying to do; he just didn't do it well.

The job of an Attorney General or any District Attorney or State's Attorney, is to determine where to place the scare and valuable resources of their office. They decide which cases are worth fighting and which ones aren't. That's their job. Yes, you can say Yates was an Obama appointee, but that was after a career of non-partisan service in the Justice Department for a variety of Presidents. At some point, in gov't positions, you can't get promoted farther without a Presidential appointment.

She made a determination about the legality of the ban based on her expertise in making such decisions - decisions not unlike many Republican members of Congress made for themselves. It's not some protest against Trump; it's called doing her job. Does it align with her personal beliefs? Maybe; we don't know. Odds are that it does, but there's no reason, here, to make it into a partisan fight - that just plays into the hands of people you're trying to thwart.

I've come to believe that no one with power in Washington actually wants to change anything. They don't want peace. Rancor and division is what keeps them employed, on the news, and in business. They're (and this includes activists, media, and whoever else has their life and livelihood wrapped up in political games) just trying to score points for their side to better obtain or secure power.

Should Trump have fired her? That's complicated only because of the Department where she works. Any other Executive employee, I'd say, "Yes," absolutely. They all work to help Trump do his job, so he should be able to replace them at any time. The Department of Justice is a little different in that it's sole purpose is to make legal decisions about how to spend resources in the service of "justice." Presidents appoint people they know and trust presumably because they are in greater alignment on those issues, but it's also a dangerous place to meddle, because it's very easy for a President to, or to appear to, be tipping the scales with alternative motivations.

One of the biggest criticisms of the Eric Holder Justice Department, especially early on in the Obama Administration, was how political his decisions seemed to be. That's always something to avoid. Of course a President wants their Executive Orders, laws, pronouncements, and decisions defended as fervently as possible, but, at some point, they do have to let the department do its job.

Even so, I wouldn't say Trump's move was partisan so much, either, as personal. It's been proven, in the last few days, that the GOP is not entirely on board with this move; it's not an issue that divides along party lines. Jumping to conclusions about back and forth as if one side is the enemy doesn't help anything actually get accomplished. We need to take issues on their own merits to hold down the rancor and heal divisions.

Opposing Trump just because he's a perceived enemy is paying back precisely what the GOP did to Obama for most of his time in office. It's fighting a person, rather than dealing with issues. I think this ban is silly and stupid. I think the Executive Order imposing the ban was overly broad for its stated purpose, poorly conceived, and a waste of time, but I don't see it as an avenue for fighting a left-right war. When we treat it that way, we've done ourselves, and the country, a grave disservice.

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