Washington Showdown a Reminder All Politics Is Local

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United States Representative Joaquin Castro approaches the stage to introduce his mother, Rosie Castro.

Scott Ball / Rivard Report

Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-San Antonio) appears to have the votes in the U.S. House to pass his resolution reversing the president's national emergency declaration. Its future in the Senate is unclear.

The decline of Washington politics into a reality television show over the past two years has numbed the average citizen to the import of the partisan collision building between the Trump administration and the Democratic-controlled House.

In a reminder that “all politics is local,” U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-San Antonio) is the author of record of a joint resolution signed by more than 225 co-sponsors in the U.S. House that challenges President Donald Trump’s Feb. 15 declaration of a national emergency and his plans to bypass Congress to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.

Only one Republican member of the House is among the resolution’s co-sponsors, which shows how bitterly partisan even constitutional issues have become. Politics now trumps principle at every turn. Rep. Will Hurd (R-San Antonio), for example, has consistently opposed Trump’s proposed multibillion-dollar wall, even when the president insisted Mexico would pay for it. Yet he has not signed on as a sponsor; to do so would undermine any future standing in the GOP.

The House is expected to pass the resolution Tuesday, leaving the Republican-controlled Senate to follow with its vote. There could be enough Republican senators opposed to the president’s self-declared emergency and decision to seize the “power of the purse”  from the legislative branch that it could narrowly pass the Senate. Probably not.

Trump will veto the bill if it comes to his desk, and it’s highly doubtful Democrats could muster the two-thirds vote necessary to override that veto. That will leave matters between the two branches of government in a state of heightened tension as opponents of what the Democrats are tweeting is the “FakeTrumpEmergency” challenge the president in the judiciary and the court of public opinion.

Sixteen states have joined forces to sue the administration, arguing there is no national emergency. The suit cites Trump’s own Rose Garden pronouncement on Feb. 15 that “I didn’t need to do this, but I’d rather do it much faster” as evidence his move is political rather than addressing an issue of legitimate national import.

National Public Radio’s national political correspondent Mara Liasson served as the keynote speaker Thursday evening at the San Antonio World Affairs Council’s Citizen of the Year dinner honoring former Mayor Phil Hardberger. Liasson, who has covered every administration since Bill Clinton was elected president in 1992, put the reality TV metaphor in my mind as she described to audience members what it’s like covering Trump.

There is an Alice in Wonderland quality to daily life in Washington where up is down and down is up. People these days, Liasson noted, start with their opinion and then seek out supportive facts. The days when facts were universally accepted and formed the basis for political debate seem to belong to a bygone era, at least for now.

Mara Liasson gives the keynote address on the global state of politics and where the United States is heading.

Bonnie Arbittier / Rivard Report

Mara Liasson gives the keynote address on the global state of politics and where the United States is heading.

Voters have become so tribal in their outlook that the drama unfolding next week in Washington, D.C., will be seen only by a few as a confrontation of great constitutional import. Most are likely to view it through the distorted lens of their own partisan bias, tuning out those who see Trump’s declaration as a dangerous erosion of the separation of powers.

This week’s clash between the executive and legislative branches will quickly be followed, if sources are accurate, by the fight over whether Robert Mueller’s special counsel report is released in its entirety.

Congressional Democrats already have signaled they will use their subpoena power to demand its full release, and the many hands on such a report suggest the report will leak.

Elected officials who control state government in Texas are displaying the same divisive partisanship rather than ruling in the general interest of all citizens. The secretary of state’s badly fumbled effort to knock off 100,000 new voters from the rolls has eroded public confidence in the office to fairly manage elections in a nonpartisan manner.

Liasson expressed optimism in American democracy and its resilience when I asked her if she was worried about the long-term corrosive effect of the current state of affairs. I am more pessimistic. Trump’s success in taking the Republican party sharply to the right and in a more populist direction seems to be inspiring the rise of Democrats who want to take their party hard to the left in response.

There seem to be few leaders speaking to those of us caught in-between these days, even though politics at the local and national level have always seemed to best serve the majority when people have met in the middle.

11 thoughts on “Washington Showdown a Reminder All Politics Is Local

  1. The REAL emergency in this nation is rising poverty, lack of adequate/affordable healthcare and housing along with jobs that pay living wages.

  2. It is not a national emergency.

    For example, On January 27, 2019 President Trump tweeted that “58, 000 non-citizens voted, with 95,000 non-citizens registered to vote”. This tweet is grossly inaccurate. All other statements by President Trump, of a National Border crisis, are similarly grossly inaccurate and are fake news. These 95,000 non citizens were legal permanent residents, when they applied for a Texas driver’s license.

    By law, non-citizens (legal permanent residents) can apply for a Texas driver’s license. Then, after five years, the legal permanent residents can apply or United States citizenship (Naturalization). They can apply for citizenship after three years, if married to United States citizens for three years.

    Most legal permanent residents, who registered to vote, registered to vote by mistake. Many received erroneous instructed to register to vote when they received instructions to register for military Selective Service at age 18. Many received erroneous instructed to register to vote when they applied for a Texas driver’s license. Other agencies also provide erroneous information to register to vote.

    Intensive investigations by US Citizenship and Immigration Services of legal permanent residents who voted, reveal those who thought they could vote and those who committed voter fraud. Those who committed voter fraud are deported and are barred from ever qualifying for US Citizenship.

    Studies show that illegal entry along the Mexican/US border have decreased over the past several years. This is probably due to the new stricter immigration laws that US Citizenship and Immigration Services started to fully enforce about ten years ago. For example a new law bars immigrants for ten years from becoming legal permanent residents, if they entered along the Mexican border illegally after 1997.

    Please help stop fear and fake crisis that are hurting and circumventing our democratic process.

  3. Hey Pancho – those horrible things you cite are in part due to uncontrolled amounts of illegal aliens entering the country. Nothing racist about it!

  4. Did I miss the part where Castro called out his Jew hating colleagues in the House? He real brave going against Trump, ain’t he? And jumping on board with the Smollett Hoax. Can always count on this guy to do the virtue signaling thing.

    A modern day Bella Abzug.

    • Nope, you didn’t miss that part! He aligned himself with AOC -an equal with him on economics and policy-and does her bidding. Yeah, he wants that spotlight and to be seen as a real force in politics-let him have his Spartacus moment! Unfortunately for us in SA he is largely irrelevant in political circles.

      • Unfortunately? How could this gadfly help us, he presence demeans us. Just as Hardeberger’s assault on the RNC convention bodes I’ll for us.

        AOC prides herself on driving Amazon from NY. Phil did the same, on a much smaller scale. Keep economic growth away from us, that’s their cry. We need a permanent underclass to keep us in power.

        • My point was he can’t help us and he does things that make him weak and seen as a wannabe in DC! I agree the leaders in this city have created an underclass….that keeps growing. That growth will drive people and businesses from this city or from coming to this city. The current mayor puts those who got us here, with their lack of expertise, generic and costly ideas, on boards and task forces to get out of the mess they created. SA does not garner respect locally, statewide or in DC. We are seen as a low wage/low skill city…and it gets worse every year. Right now the poverty/near poverty rate is almost 55%. Think about that-and how we got here! We had 2 HUD secretaries as mayors and yet we are one of the most economically segregated cities whose residents can’t afford a place to live…that does not attract the employers SA needs…desperately (the ones with good salaries and benefits usually require education/high level skills and a community that is not more underclass than average). Our city leaders don’t have the clout or respect to bring them in; their response to a RNC convention interest only exacerbated that!

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