Trump has an annoying habit of occasionally saying something I agree with.
Mixed in his speech before the U.N. General Assembly in New York on Tuesday–in which he claimed his presidency has “accomplished more than almost any other administration in the history of our country,” earning him lots of laughs from those gathered–Trump touched on a remedy to the global migrant crisis that many immigration and human-rights advocates have actually been pushing for decades.
“Ultimately,” he said, “the only long-term solution to the migration crisis is to help people build more hopeful futures in their home countries. Make their countries great again.”
It’s enough to make a Never-Trumper stand up and applaud. But then again, this bold and seemingly humanitarian statement was prefaced with a mini diatribe against “illegal immigration,” which, according to Trump (a diehard viewer of Fox News), “funds criminal networks, ruthless gangs, and the flow of deadly drugs. Illegal immigration exploits vulnerable populations, hurts hardworking citizens, and has produced a vicious cycle of crime, violence, and poverty.”
“Only by upholding national borders, destroying criminal gangs, can we break this cycle and establish a real foundation for prosperity.”
Of course, weak borders aren’t to blame for the United States’s broken immigration system–not even mostly to blame. No, the problem lies with what Trump himself pointed to in his speech: the fact that every migrant and refugee is leaving a homeland riddled by poverty and violence. What Trump failed to mention is that much of the violence and poverty tearing through places like Latin America, especially, is caused directly or indirectly by U.S. foreign policies. They come here because the U.S. government has made the situation increasingly unlivable over there.
Still, whenever Trump utters something morally sound and politically astute, I see a flicker of hope that the man can at long last, somehow, be redeemed. After all, if the Trump documentary on Netflix, Trump: An American Dream, shows anything to be true, it’s that, more than power or money, more than women, self-tanning lotion and a decent toupee, Trump wants to be loved most of all. He wants to be popular, to have people speak and think highly of him. That’s his crutch–one which those who disagree with his policies should seek to exploit.
We do that by praising him whenever he does or says something good, however rarely that may be. Though the plutocrats are surely tightening their grip on this country, we still live in something like a democracy, one in which the president’s successes or failures greatly depend on the support of the people–all of the people. Plus, how else can we steer our president in the right direction unless we boo him when we think he’s wrong as well as cheer him when we think he’s doing right? In that way, molding a president is a lot like teaching a new puppy the rules of the house.
It could be Trump’s just a broken watch though, only right twice a day. Even still, if he says it’s five o’clock and it really is five o’clock, we do him and ourselves no good by pretending he’s still wrong.
Featured image: Official White House Photo by Joyce N. Boghosian