The desire to condemn evil and wrongdoing should not be a partisan matter, but the brutality of the present shows us how many people feel otherwise.
In the midst of each despicable advance the right wing makes at the expense of people’s lives, there is always shock and awe from the liberal class. There’s the shock that it’s actually happening, the shock that liberalism is failing to halt right-wing encroachments and the shock that oppression has happened under the direction of Democratic Party politicians as well Republican ones. This says a lot, but a very important takeaway is how liberalism coalesces the very oppressive forces many of its constituents think they are actively opposing by being liberals. The travesty that is immigration policy in the US gives us a very clear picture of contradiction.
A creation of the Bush administration, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), was one of the sweeping reforms made after the 9/11 attacks. During a time in which war fever was being heavily stoked, the Democratic Party largely went along with virtually everything the Republicans were incentivizing in the name of nationalist fervor. Under the guise of patriotism, the Democrats enabled wars, policies and attitudes that have become some of the most atrocious events seen in our lifetimes.
The responsibility of maintaining empire and continuing violence isn’t one-sided within the US’s two-party system, it’s the only side. Our votes will elect those who enforce hegemony around the globe no matter if we cast them to the right or the relative left. This is how we ended up with ICE and foreign policy that destabilizes other nations abroad, producing unlivable conditions for many people around the globe.
The migrants, immigrants and refugees who have come or have attempted to come to the US are forced to make the journey through the grate of US politics. They cross the borders of an empire that has long crossed over them. In return, they are treated as if they are criminals for simply doing their best to survive. Though the language of the two parties may differ at times, the end result is the regular extension of empire’s violence, and that has remained the same no matter who is in power.
During the Obama presidency, the Democratic Party showed unabashed support for Obama’s attachment to the policies of the Bush administration that came before him. Whether it was Wall Street bailouts, immigration policy or the “war on terror,” when there was an opportunity to end the unacceptable, it was squandered instead. The Democrats excused their strengthening of Bush-era policy by wrapping atrocity in nicer language. President Obama always made sure to emphasize his record-level deportation apparatus was focusing on “criminals,” as if criminals should have less rights by default; President Trump entered the White House echoing this idea.
When the Bush administration responded to the panic of 9/11 by using the emergency to manipulate and overreach, the Democrats helped give the state bigger weapons to carry out their agenda. The Democrats aided right-wing supporters and the Republican Party at the time, as they often still do, at many of their own constituents’ expense. While many liberal voters may have thought they were being more moral for “reaching across the aisle” to affirm at least some or part of the right’s racist, xenophobic paranoias, they were, and have been, merely assisting the destruction.
President Trump’s “zero-tolerance” stance on immigration which breaks up families is directly connected to the Republicans and Democrats who broke up families before him and enabled him with the means to do so. President Clinton’s Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 helped pave the way for ICE as we know it. Using this terrible act, Clinton went about expanding Border Patrol, criminalizing various low-level immigration violations and enlarging the deportation machine.
In 2014, former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton said that children who cross the border should be “sent back,” and stated that, “We have to send a clear message, just because your child gets across the border, that doesn’t mean the child gets to stay,” the former secretary of state said. “So, we don’t want to send a message that is contrary to our laws or will encourage more children to make that dangerous journey.” It’s worth questioning if liberal voters and Democratic Party politicians would have decried another anti-immigrant Clinton administration the way they’ve decried Trump’s.
Hypocrisy is exposed under the headlines. People react in shock to not-new abuses happening under Trump that have been occurring for the last two administrations or more. When it was announced that the Trump administration planned to house migrant children in tents, The Washington Post noted that, “The shelter site, at the Tornillo-Marcelino Serna port of entry, is about 20 miles east of El Paso along the Mexico border. It was last used in 2016 to house migrant children and families in large, dormitory-style canvas tents.”
In 2014, the Obama administration housed more than 7,000 children at bases in Oklahoma, Texas and California for months. NBC Nightly News pointed out just as much saying, “It will not be the first time the US government has erected tent cities to house immigrants. US Customs and Border Protection used tents to house an influx of immigrants in 2014 and at the end of the Obama administration.”
This regularly gets left out when prominent liberal politicians and pundits rush to condemn Trump. To maintain its cherished role as the lesser-evil party, the Democrats willfully ignore the connectivity of their own party in creating, perpetuating and inflicting the brutality they pretend to be inherently opposed to and manipulate their base.
The contradiction maybe most embarrassingly reared its head when a number of liberals — and at least one former Obama administration official — mistakenly shared photos they thought were exposing the Trump administration’s treatment of immigrant children when they were, in fact, from President Obama’s term. Surely if one’s desire to condemn wrongdoing and evil is partisan, that person doesn’t have a problem with wrongdoing or evil as much as they do with who gets to carry it out and (maybe) how it looks or sounds when they do so.
The brutal normalcy of atrocity is strengthened by a liberal class that will not admit fault and entertains the despicable in the name of tolerance. Democrats and their supporters have pushed the right so far ahead by pretending to be opposed to the violence they regularly inflict themselves. By strengthening the right to the extent they have, we are now poised to see something much worse than Trump unless we prioritize disorganizing the liberal class from party politics and reorganizing all that we can into a true opposition. It may only be a matter of time before we see a president who has fascist desires with more competency to carry them out.
If we are to move forward, abolishing and opposing tyranny where and when we rightfully should, a radical honesty is required of us. There can be no more lies and deceptions for the sake of party politics. Telling the truth about violence is an important part of combatting it. The question should no longer be who is better equipped to carry out state violence against us, but instead, when and how will we stop all the violence against us.