Solutions, Not Slogans
Terry H. Schwadron
April 14, 2022
Some straight talk would be welcome about now.
Public confusion is running a little high — on possible use of chemical weapons in Ukraine, on the plots to overthrow our own government, on what exactly is being done about inflation and on the tugs between lifting covid restrictions and immigration blockades.
What we’re short on is enough politics-free information to have any patience that solutions are working. Indeed, we’re suddenly awash in problems in every direction, with pragmatic problem-solving the last thing on the agenda.
The news this week is a reflection of events moving beyond control of governments, police, agencies that we normally expect to handle them.
We don’t expect unhinged shootings at a morning commute subway station, we don’t expect our normal supermarket prices to be increasing by 8.5%, we don’t expect to hear that we can’t confirm whether chemical weapons are in use in a war that has little reason in the first place.
Distrust that we have seen spread over two years or more of covid response is moving into many other areas and prompting outbreaks of anger and opportunism that we’re reaping in higher crime, price gouging and increasing acts of protectionism.
It feels overly chaotic.
The political Right is aflame over immigration, with new indignation set off by Joe Biden’s announced intentions to lift Title 42 rules to keep migrants to our border in Mexico. He is doing so, he says, because the public health exclusion came about with covid and was meant to keep unvaccinated migrants from entering the country to await asylum or other legal procedures.
If there is no more covid threat, then there should be no more Title 42, he argues.
Most states have walked away from covid mandates, but the federal rules for masking on airplanes and trains, which had been set to expire next week, yesterday were extended another couple of weeks at minimum.
At the same time, we’re getting reports from many states of renewed increases in a covid subvariant that has prompted Philadelphia officials to reimpose mask-wearing rules indoors. Some school systems are joining in, delaying removal of masks. Cases in China and Europe are expanding faster, prompting new review.
And so, we are hearing once again about caravans of migrants forming in Central America and Mexico to come to a border that may be further opened as of May 23, and we’re seeing that Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas has sent his first busload of arrested migrants to be dropped off unceremoniously in the downtown Washington, D.C. in protest of the lack of effective immigration policies.
If covid threats are over, let’s adjust the rules — for planes and subways and for immigration as well. If we’re still worried about covid, let’s stop using that as an excuse to change rules for migrants. If we’re not willing to talk about comprehensive approaches to immigration, let’s stop using covid as a fig leaf for what we really intend.
The tone of the dispute over immigration has absolutely nothing to do with covid, of course. This is about partisan politics and a desire for an America First lowering of immigration gates for Central Americans — even as Biden is publicly offering to welcome up to 100,000 Ukrainian refugees.
The White House and the Department of Homeland Security say they have a plan in place to kick in with an expected surge of migrants. But even several Democratic senators are joining in proposals to delay any change in Title 42 until 60 days after the Centers for Disease Control declares an end to any need for covid restrictions.
If we’ve got a plan, we should be more forthright about it. Neither immigration opponents nor migrants forming up south of the border seem to be believe it.
The White House has ordered the extended release of some strategic oil reserves and waiving environmental rules against the use of some blended ethanol fuels to lower gas pump prices. He called in business executives to talk about prices, as well as explained about supply chains still fouled by covid and further damaged by the war in Europe. According to economist Paul Krugman, there are some discernible results under way, though less than what is needed.
Again, if there is a plan at hand for inflation, few looking at higher supermarket prices believe it.
Republicans don’t have a better idea — other than authorizing future oil drilling — and should just acknowledge that forthrightly.
The war in Ukraine looks as if it will go on for quite a while. The White House says it has contingency plans, but neither the Ukrainians nor the Russians seem to fully accept that word.
Meanwhile, what we get from Republicans is criticism for Biden in lieu of solutions.
It feels chaotic because it is. Democrats need to acknowledge that straight on and work to fix whatever’s broken.
There are no Republican solutions for high prices or covid mutations, and closing the border entirely is not realistic for a variety of reasons. They ought to say so too.
We need people focused on solutions, not slogans.
Straight talk from all sides would be appreciated right now.