The United States has more to deal with than the fire of Ferguson and a failed immigration policy. But Washington has given no sign that Congress and the government were aware of their shared responsibility. An analysis.
In Washington recently the talk has been of well poisoning and arson. With such accusations, the Republicans are blaming the president for the political blockade entering the next stage. The decree through which Barack Obama is protecting up to 5 million undocumented immigrants from deportation was declared a provocation, thwarting any cooperation from Congress and government. But the political troublemakers should take a deep breath and look inside their country. In Ferguson, real arsonists have demonstrated the anger that is inside them.
Not only these violent criminals distrust the jurors, who, after an evidentiary hearing lasting many months, found no reason to suspect that white cop Darren Wilson had committed a crime when he shot unarmed black man Michael Brown. Many Americans had already formed their opinions on this. For some, Brown was the victim of a deep-rooted racism; for others, Wilson is a hero, threatened to be sacrificed on the altar of political correctness. Obama noted that racial discrimination by the police and criminal justice system is a “real problem” in America. Republican Peter King replied that Obama should invite Wilson to the White House.
The intransigence of the politician is, on one hand, the result of divergent perceptions in the country. The reactions to the Ferguson case, as well as the discontent over a more pragmatic, more humane dealing with the over 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S., indicate that the race issue does not play a small role here — perhaps precisely because a black man moved into the White House six years ago. On the other hand, the grave political battle in Washington is increasing polarization in the population. And after the midterm election three weeks ago, there is still no time for relaxation. The laws of the campaign will continue to apply. Secretaries and senators are organizing their beliefs and insights toward the presumed needs of the next campaign.
The Wrath of the Indomitable
Watchers from well-equipped interest groups are always ready to sound the alarm if someone should attempt to seek a compromise with political opponents. Tea party groups have already discussed which (from their perspective, too compliant) Republicans they want to sic on each other in the primary in 2016. Especially bold is the idea to let Sarah Palin compete in Arizona against John McCain. Palin owes her fame to the senator, who would have taken her with him to the White House as vice president in 2008, but McCain incurred the wrath of the Indomitable when he helped to forge a compromise on immigration. Even Obama has not freed himself from party political constraints in the last quarter of his presidency. After the stumbling Democrats had objected to appearances by the president and immigration reform before the midterm election, he is now traveling around the country and is being celebrated for his late decree. Hillary Clinton is dependent on Latino voters, and the president is working on his legacy.
Many politicians have lost their way on the ridge between strong principles and intransigence. Some combatants in the everlasting battle are driven by fantasies of destruction. A look in just one newspaper this week should have been enough to bring the unworthy game to a halt. America has more to deal with than the fire of Ferguson and a failed immigration policy. Secretary of Defense Hagel must resign because the Islamic State group has forced Obama into a war for which the Pentagon probably needs a more spirited chief. The nuclear talks with Iran, in which America sought to avoid a geopolitical catastrophe, continue to hang by a “silk thread.” But Washington has given no sign that Congress and the government were aware of their shared responsibility — and potential strength.
A President in Shackles
Many members of Congress want to put Obama’s Iran negotiators in shackles or put spokes in their wheels instead of joining together to increase pressure on Tehran. They don’t want to grant the commander in chief any success — and thus they strengthen the Iranian opposition. If they are soon to confirm a successor to Hagel, many Republicans will reproach the government over the Syrian dilemma, as if simple answers are offered in the Middle East, as if George W. Bush’s error had never existed. Rather than ask their minority leader to finally put a legal immigration reform to the vote, Republicans denounce the president as a despot.
Obama spoke out against the arsonists of Ferguson: “Nothing of significance, nothing of benefit results from destructive acts. I’ve never seen a civil rights law, or a health care bill, or an immigration bill result because a car got burned. It happened because people mobilize, people organize, people look at what are the best policies to solve the problem. That’s how you actually move something forward.” Beautiful words! But Washington seems determined to prove the opposite.