Granderson: The border crisis is real. Why does Trump block solutions?
The irony of Donald Trump pressuring House Republicans to kill a border deal is that many of his voters once counted on him to stop the “deep state” from hurting America. Ever since the former president has been out of office, he and his cohorts have made that conspiracy theory a reality: an unauthorized network of individuals embedded in and around government redirecting power for their own purposes.
Throughout the 2020 general election, Trump referred to the migrant crisis as an “invasion.” In December, he said immigrants were “poisoning the blood of our country.” Today, he’s bragging about potentially killing a bipartisan bill that would, among other things, give Biden and future presidents the authority to close the southern border. The proposed bill would also add 1,300 Border Patrol agents along with technology to detect smuggled fentanyl more efficiently.
Now Trump — the man who went to Washington to “drain the swamp” — doesn’t want the bill to become law. Its passage would hurt his campaign claim that President Biden is neglecting the border, a belief he’s counting on for votes in November. And he’s not ashamed that people know he is trying to kill the bill, telling supporters in Las Vegas on Saturday: “Please blame it on me. Please.” Putting himself ahead of the issues and the well-being of the nation.
Of course, Trump was never the disinfectant he claimed to be. His time in the White House marked a new low for self-serving abuses of power, ultimately leading to an attempted coup — complete with a draft of an executive order to seize voting machines. But at least then when he was leading his party in the worst direction, he was an elected official.
Today Trump is a private citizen.
A private citizen who in less than a year was found liable for defamation (twice) and sexual assault. A private citizen who allowed boxes of classified documents to be misappropriated and stacked near a toilet at his estate in Florida. A private citizen found liable for fraud because he exaggerated the worth of that estate by 2,300%. A private citizen who came into the White House with a decades-long record of ruining and bankrupting businesses, who left office four years later having increased the country’s debt by nearly $8 trillion.
That is the person Republicans in the House — some of whom were involved in Trump’s attempted coup — take orders from.
That is the person who doesn’t want his party to do anything about the border unless he’s president.
This is the person House Speaker Mike Johnson (aka MAGA Mike) answers to. Which is why he sent a letter to the Senate saying the border bill that chamber was still working on would be “dead on arrival” in the House.
How can the speaker be so certain that a bill not yet written will fail in the House? Because its future cause of death has nothing to do with national security and everything to do with the man who needs to maximize the appearance of chaos under Biden.
Last year, another of Trump’s surrogates, Senate candidate Kari Lake of Arizona, accused Biden of allowing the migrant crisis to “destabilize our country.” Now she doesn’t want Biden to stop the migrant crisis. She’s not serving the national interest. She’s in thrall to a certain private citizen who is both running for office and running in and out of court.
OK, so Trump and his loyalists are showing that their talk about the border isn’t about the border, just optics. Hypocrisy is as prevalent in Washington as Dodger Dogs are at Chavez Ravine. But this isn’t your run-of-the-mill political doublespeak. This actually is a crisis.
From June 2022 to June 2023, the Border Patrol stopped more than 200 people on the FBI’s terrorist watch list trying to enter the U.S. from Mexico. And the man who wants to be our commander in chief is telling his troops in the House to stand down for his own personal gain.
And the speaker has signaled the troops are ready to comply. In the meantime the House is moving to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas for — of all things — his handling of the southern border.
This is not your run-of-the-mill plot line from “Madam Secretary” or “The West Wing.”
This is more like that episode “Baggage” from “The Handmaid’s Tale,” where we learn what caused the fall of democracy before that show’s dystopian era. We forget just how dangerously close Jan. 6, 2021, came to imitating that frightening piece of art. The peaceful transfer of power interrupted by violence. Members of Congress running for their lives.
“You were there all the time, but no one noticed you,” the character June said in that episode, as she’s combing through old newspaper clippings about protests and unscrupulous leaders with large followings.
“Democracies erode slowly, in barely visible steps,” according to the authors of the 2018 book “How Democracies Die.” For us, that first step toward erosion was taken when the electoral college was established to appease enslavers afraid of democracy.
Centuries later, another step was Trump’s ascent to the White House: a populist known for not paying his employees, a favorite of evangelicals though he has a thing for porn stars. A charlatan who doesn’t want Republicans to help Biden stop the very “invasion” he claims is destroying America.
You know what’s really putting us at risk? Elected officials who do whatever that private citizen wants.