President Donald Trump has been in office a little more than a month now and, whatever else you might think of him, he’s certainly making good on his campaign promises.
“But aren’t those promises horrifying in their implications for American minority groups and in the the malevolent growth of federal powers?”
Oh, shush, you.
Since Jan. 20, Trump has issued executive orders directing federal health and human services agencies to loosen their interpretations of Affordable Care Act policies, directing the Army Corps of Engineers to expedite Dakota Access Pipeline permits, directing Homeland Security to construct a Mexican border wall, freezing federal hiring, promising to withhold federal dollars from immigrant “sanctuary cities,” (unsuccessfully) freezing the entry of Middle Eastern immigrants to the United States… I could go on, if it weren’t for this cramp in my fingers, or the crippling sadness devouring my soul.
Trump promises that his policies will benefit the working class and American industry. But one of the biggest beneficiaries by far has been a certain Left Coast Irishman.
Mayor Ed Murray gave his State of the City address Feb. 21 and perhaps his most publicized statement was a promise to file a public records request under the Freedom of Information Act to suss out the details of the president’s executive orders concerning immigration. If the federal government doesn’t hand those details over… HE. WILL. SUE.
It’s almost enough to forget that — with hard-hitting questions like “Hey, so what do you consider a ‘sanctuary city,’ exactly?” — this is the legal equivalent of borrowing a dictionary from the library, so you can write the librarian a strongly worded letter in the near future (she knows what she did).
In other words, all Murray’s done is promise to do the basic groundwork needed to do the actual work some time in the near future.
But when you find a good look, you wear it. Before the State of the City address, Murray delivered a moving (and pointed) speech to mark the anniversary of Japanese internment. Before that, he said he was willing to “lose every penny” of federal money to keep Seattle police independent of “authoritarian” federal immigration policies. On Inauguration Day, in Washington, D.C., he told The Stranger’s Heidi Groover that he had woken up thinking “this is the end of democracy as we know it.”
This is the same man who, less than a year ago, was regularly alienating constituents and colleagues with his aggressive development policies, heavy-handed reforms of the district council system, and famously vainglorious temper.
Psychoanalytic philosopher, Occupy Wall Street darling and real-life “Simpsons” Comic Book Guy Slavoj Žižek gave an interview on BBC News prior to the inauguration, in which he claimed Trump was essentially good for the left because they would be able to focus and define themselves in the face of a clear enemy.
Žižek caught some flak for his point of view, but Murray has proven his thesis to be essentially true.
In a city where being the wrong shade of blue at the wrong moment spells political death, Trump is a purifying force — the Goliath that makes Davids of us all.
Murray’s anti-Trump efforts in regard to immigration should be celebrated — after all, the “sanctuary city” issue is less a matter of active protections for undocumented immigrants, than a defense of local self-governance and civil protections against federal overreach.
But these efforts are also a form of political opportunism. We shouldn’t write them off just because opportunism is at play, but we need to keep ourselves aware of it.
If you’re opposed to the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda, or the reform of the District Council system, or to your mayor sending petty rage-texts to other elected officials, guess what? Those issues haven’t gone away.
But it’s gotten much easier to let them fall into the background. It’s up to all of us to make sure that they don’t.