Society at an Impasse – What’s with the All or Nothing Breakdown?

The president of the United States took the word of the Russian president over U.S. intelligence and law enforcement is saying he believed Putin’s denial of Russian military interference in the U.S. election process, despite indictments against Russians for hacking the Democratic National Committee and waging a propaganda war in American social media. It was an odd choice of nothing over all the evidence.

OK, where does that leave America? According to Trump’s apologists, he had no choice but to defer to Putin. After all, it would have been rude to call him a liar. A Fox News personality scoffed that Trump couldn’t very well shoot Putin. These are very strange propositions in what is an all-or-nothing proposition: Trump could either go on the offensive or agree. Huh?

The president could have simply said, with all due respect, I believe my intelligence agencies’ evidence. Did he fear if he did that somehow he’d end up as Russia’s latest poison victim? Of course, there is endless speculation on compromising information, such as theories about Trump or the Trump Organization having massive debts to Russians and/or some kind of scandalous video. If, hypothetically, there was such a problem with compromising information, the right thing to do would be to step aside to protect national security. Is that all or nothing? Not really, Vice President Pence was duly elected and could step up as president. Besides, if there is nothing to such rumors, the president can still side with the CIA, FBI, etc. and agree Russian interference took place.

Am I a huge supporter of Pence? Not particularly. But, I do not side with Democrats either. Case in point, a small group of Democratic House members I have never heard of have introduced legislation to abolish ICE. Republicans, including House Speaker Paul Ryan and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, rightly jumped on this absurd suggestion. You do not get rid of the immigration agency because you do not like the way it is implementing immigration policy. Instead, try introducing immigration reform to direct ICE to implement the policies you prefer.

False choices

This is another all-or-nothing proposition: ICE shouldn’t separate babies from parents seeking asylum so let’s get rid of ICE.

When did we, as Americans, become so entrenched in these false choices? If you are politically independent or lean in one direction (but are not wholly partisan), you are left in a wide chasm between these extremes.

It’s as if many cannot process distinctions and nuance. Take the ICE example. I think the zero-tolerance policy has created the consequence of imposing cruel and unusual punishment on small children that is not only detrimental to them, but diminishes the United States’ standing on human rights. The Obama administration faced the same quandary and instead deployed the Family Case Management Program, which a 2017 Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General Report found was effective. While a relatively small population of asylum-seekers were in the program, the preponderance complied with ICE check-ins and court appearances (99%), according to the report. The costs were significantly less than family detention centers too.

Now, was that program the best possible solution? Maybe not. Maybe we should explore other possibilities, including immigration reform legislation after a series of thorough hearings.

Speaking of thorough hearings, why not wait for Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference to properly run its course? Why wouldn’t we want to know the extent of it? After the Trump-Putin meeting in Helsinki on Monday, also known as the #treasonsummit, some inside-the-beltway news accounts with anonymous sources suggested Trump does not make any distinction between Russian interference and the suggestion that his presidential campaign colluded with the Russians.

The latter might be possible, but the evidence thus far does not fully support that proposition. If anyone did, then they should be punished. At this point, I think that is possible and I also think it is possible Trump himself was not involved. I also believe it’s possible Trump might have been elected without the Russian election interference campaign. That doesn’t mean we should not try to stop it from happening again.

The Sage Leopard