Where’s the Republican Solution?

Terry H. Schwadron

March 22, 2021

I keep looking for what Republicans in the Congress are proposing on the Southern border. All I can find is endless criticism for whatever Joe Biden thinks he is doing, which, as a group, Republicans find too little or too much at the same time.

But no solutions.

They’ve had years and majorities to come up with solutions, but did not — for a variety of problems we face.

Somehow, they think Donald Trump was not only right, but successful, in virtually shutting down the border, building parts and pieces of an ineffective wall, insisting as policy on the horrors of forced family separations, spurring outward racism through travel bans on Muslim-majority countries, forcing Mexico to house the building immigrant crowd in unsafe conditions yards away from the border, engaging in anti-business practices of halting and reducing legal visas (except for those needed at Mar-a-Lago) — and ignoring the effects of the pandemic on immigrant travel altogether.

In other words, do anything, moral or not, to simply ignore those trying to come into the country. But, from the numbers waiting it out just over the border, those policies didn’t work either.

From all accounts, we’re undergoing the biggest surge in 20 years, a large, if cyclical, attempt by Central Americans to cross the U.S. border, pushed by expectations and hopes that Biden’s policies have overturned Trump’s. Biden’s messages have been less than clear about waiting until arrangements were in place to receive and process migrants, and has allowed enough minors into this country to overwhelm the system. But we’re arguing over whether we label this a “crisis” or a “logistical challenge” rather than on what to actually do.

The overrun facilities of the border police — no place for minors who are supposed to be held just for a day or two — — but will take a few weeks to set up alternatives overseen by other agencies. We can blame Biden for not preparing first, then opening the door, of course.

Nevertheless, the instant and incessant Republican attack on what has proved a perpetually fruitful political attack is well underway. In border states, we’re not waiting for construction of youth facilities to house minors, which is underway with more dorms opened this weekend; if there’s no instant answer, Biden has to be in the wrong — for his policies. The New York Times has a nice wrapup of needed fact-checking.

My issue, though, is that just that along with quick Republican criticism, there are no solutions. Where’s the Republican bill?

Indeed, any consideration of “comprehensive immigration policy” changes announced in Biden’s first week already have been buried. Republicans even have ruled out even legislation to separate out the Dreamers or legal status for farm workers. I don’t even understand the politics here.

A Pattern of ‘No’

It’s now emerged as a pattern, and we’re in the same gridlock we’ve had for years now in more Biden legislative proposals — with little prospect of change anytime soon. Cue the 2022 elections, in which Democrats may lose majorities in either house.

But elections apparently have consequences only if your side overwhelming destroys the others, and the self-denuding of Republican “moderates” to more ideologically driven extremists is guaranteeing that little important legislation will pass without either legislative tricks to avoid Senate filibusters or eliminating the filibuster itself.

We know that.

What we don’t get as much as what the Republican agenda is; last summer, Republicans even eschewed coming up with a policy platform.

Republicans demand the “bipartisanship” role in shaping legislation that they denied the Democratic minority for the last decade, but their input — and their legislative proposals — continue to be a steady “No” to whatever Democrats propose.

So, as things stand, No to gun control bills, No to voting rights, No to rekindling the defense for violence against women, No to civil rights extensions, No to anti-abortion and health legislation. No to state — not federal — shutdown orders, even when coronavirus cases are on the rise again from ignored mutations of the virus.

Even in “infrastructure,” which is being used as a substitute for job stimulus through public works projects, we can anticipate now that even including Republican district projects will not result in a Yes, because the bills will end up being too expensive for Republican tastes and they will specifically jobs projects linked to Climate Disruption.

It’s been a political joke since 2010 that Republicans are against Obamacare or anything that would extend Medicare and Medicaid or even suggest a turn towards Medicare for All without ever coming up with a passable health access program. Now we can write that larger.

Individualism as Group Think

From comments at congressional hearings, political speeches and social media, the only clarity from Republicans seems to be for individualism and outspokenness while attacking the same from others. And they want to ignore all policy issues — including continuing coronavirus demands for vaccination. Even then, rather than encourage personal responsibility in mask-wearing, say, the message is No to a “nanny state” that is lobbying for, well, personal responsibility.

Thus, the culture issues dominate, because they are easier to say out loud without evidence. It is just opinion.

To hear Republicans speak, America does not police Black citizens differently, there is no sustained campaign of abuse against Asian-Americans, all immigration at the southern border is carrying disease and drugs, Americans are not suffering issues of poverty and unemployment, no one needs food stamps or job training, and that there is no need to look beyond promoting oil and gas drilling interests for our economic future.

Even in foreign policy now, we’re hearing plenty of Republican criticism that Russia and China are attacking what they see as hypocrisy in American domestic relations — but no suggested policies other than “beat China,” as Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark. says.

I’d be a lot more sympathetic to a Republican defense of Senate filibuster rules if I saw evidence that there is organized GOP policy thinking that solves problems beyond anything related to promoting a return of Trump and congressional majorities.



Journalist, musician, community volunteer