How are we really a better country?
I get — we all get — that the party that controls Congress and the White House gets to remake the country in its own image. To the winner go the spoils.
But how are we a better country for it? That’s what I can’t figure out: Why do the Republicans in charge think America is a better and stronger nation by, for example, banning immigrants from seven Muslim nations, including Syrians fleeing a civil war?
My conservative friends will say, “Easy, if they can’t get in, they can’t blow us up.”
But according to a September risk analysis by the very conservative Cato Institute, foreign nationals from the banned nations (Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen) are already not blowing us up. In fact, they’ve killed exactly zero Americans in terrorist attacks on U.S. soil since 1975. (And yet oddly enough, no ban on Saudi Arabia, home to 17 of the 19 9/11 terrorists who actually DID kill lots of Americans.)
With that in mind, the Cato analysis made the following recommendation pre-election, almost as a guide in case Trump won: “Any change in immigration policy for terrorism prevention should be subject to a cost-benefit calculation. A sensible terrorism screening policy must do more good than harm to justify its existence.”
That should be the measure for all policy change, in my mind. Otherwise, why do it?
So I ask again: Where’s the benefit in Trump’s ban? He’s banning people who aren’t terrorists based largely on their religion. That’s not only not keeping us any safer, it’s sending a message to billions of Muslims worldwide that we don’t like them and don’t want them.
I fail to see how that’s good for America. We gain nothing. We piss people and nations off. We lose the international moral high ground. It gives ISIS a recruiting tool. And we lose out on all the good that immigrants bring to this country. One of them, by the way, is Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, one of the heroes of the Flint water crisis. She tweeted this week: “If Trump was @POTUS in 1980, my Iraqi family would be denied entry. I was 4 & we were welcomed. We are a country of immigrants. #NoBanNoWall”
Cost vs. benefit.
How about health insurance? Whether conservatives like it or not (and clearly they do not), the Affordable Care Act has been a good thing for many people, including those who couldn’t afford insurance, those who couldn’t get it (pre-existing conditions) and people under 26.
And yet they’ve already taken the first steps toward dismantling it, thereby imperiling the health and financial well-being of 18 million people, including people who vote Republican. (News flash: They get sick, too.)
All for what? Are health care costs expected to fall after repeal? Not that I’ve heard. Is there a better system to go back to? No. Does Congress have a better idea? Stunningly after eight years of complaining, no. Most importantly, will we be a better, strong nation because a lot of people suddenly can’t afford health care? Not at all.
So why are they doing it? Or why are they proposing a return to torture when experts say it doesn’t work and puts us on a level with criminal nations? Why are they taking steps to neuter the EPA — are profits for people who are already rich somehow more important than clear air and water, from which we all benefit? Why take Planned Parenthood services from millions?
These are rhetorical questions, of course. The obvious answer is quite simply “ideology.”
Fine. But if your ideology doesn’t objectively improve the lives of the vast majority of American citizens, doesn’t that mean that it’s not a very good ideology to begin with?