Thursday, January 10, 2019

Consider This - Wagging the Dog


Three weeks. The partial shutdown of the government, and ensuing tit-for-tat complaining from both sides of the legislative aisle as well as the Oval Office, does not seem to be stopping any time soon. This is not quite the longest shutdown – yet – but it is already in the top three and poised to become the longest in only a few more days.

There are arguments for and against “The Wall” which Trump demands to be built. According to Trump’s Oval Office delivery the other night, there is a National Crisis brewing on the nation’s southern border, and for those who might believe, Trump is the only chance to prevent and defend us from the threat of poor migrants attempting to find asylum. Could there be terrorist and other undesirable criminal elements within those amassed at the border? Certainly… however, historically this has not been the case. Likewise, drugs could be crossing from the south, but again they usually come across through the normal gateways and ports, hidden in other legal imports.

Major news outlets are covering this continuing debacle over border security. Sound bytes from both sides talk about how the other side is the cause, and as time goes on it does become a bipartisan problem – in many ways it already is. Even with proposals in the House and Senate being the same as had been offered before, which now are not going to be accepted by the GOP – even though they had agreed before – this is an affront to The People. While the Democrats refusal to discuss any options with Trump can be considered a refusal to negotiate, it is Mister “Art of the Deal” who has not even allowed negotiations to begin, since he refuses to discuss anything which will not pay for the Wall (which he promised Mexico would pay for originally, and now claims the payment will come through a non-existent trade agreement).

Consider this:

Now is not the time to redirect people with talk of awards ceremonies and pseudo-political posturing about other made-up crises – certainly, the Golden Globes, and soon the Oscars, take the night and award the accomplishments of the entertainment industry. And, too, there is still much inequality between the genders – confounded even further with the inclusion of the LGBTQ community as well. Not to mention the “Me Too” movement and other related causes which people are wont to talk about.

I bring that up because someone took the time – on the same day of Trump’s “Oval Office Address” – to specifically not discuss the ongoing government shutdown crisis… in other words, wagging the dog.

And what, pray tell, is “wagging the dog”? There is a movie, from late 1997, which is a fictional account of the use of Hollywood entertainment to manufacture a crisis in order to draw attention away from a political scandal. Many liken this to the Bill Clinton affair, which a “rescue mission” to the island of Grenada was a distraction from the pending impeachment of Clinton. The term has become synonymous with using a different event – often a fictional, or less critical factual event – to draw attention away from a more serious situation. A political sleight-of-hand magic trick to make The People ignore the seriousness of a crisis in order to have the masses pay more attention to something which affects them much less directly.

This is the game of politics, especially useful in a time such as right now – and equally unfortunate that such machinations are utilized at all.

It is time for both parties to come together within the Legislature – in both the House and Senate – and come to an agreement on reopening the government. This Wall might be on the border, but it is already dividing this country more effectively, even without a brick laid in foundation, a steel slab erected, or a concrete molding poured.

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