By Columbia Basin Herald Editorial Board
The members of the 116th United States Congress took their places earlier this month, with Republicans still in control of the Senate and Democrats leading the House of Representatives for the first time since 1995. The new legislature is exceptionally diverse in many areas: race, age, gender, religion.
To say this comes at a divisive time in American politics is like saying Washingtonians are kind of partial to the Seahawks. With a president who seemingly can’t go a day without tweeting something controversial, extreme right- and left-wing factions literally brawling in the streets and social media figures competing to see who can spawn the most outrageous conspiracy theory, our political landscape has come to resemble a war zone. Not a nice, chivalrous battlefield, either, but a take-no-prisoners, salted-earth campaign of terror. Political warriors seem to have no limit to the amount of damage they’re willing to do to the country as long as their opponents are hurt worse.
In this toxic environment, many Democrats believe that their victory in the House is an opportunity — no, a mandate — to bring down the Trump presidency like a White House-sized game of Jenga. Even as special counsel Robert Mueller continues to investigate one allegation after another against the president, his family and his subordinates, Democrats are champing at the bit to bring articles of impeachment, even if they don’t yet know on what grounds. Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Michigan, famously announced her intention to do just that, calling the president an obscene name in the process to thunderous applause.
But despite what Tlaib and others of her party may think, destroying the president is not the primary purpose of the Legislative Branch. Legislating is. Congress has a plethora of challenges ahead of it. The government is shut down, and wall or no wall, some serious changes are going to have to be made in addressing illegal immigration. Battles also loom ahead over the usual issues: gun control, abortion, religious freedom vis-a-vis gay rights, trade imbalances, environmental issues and so forth. There’s more than enough to keep Congress occupied for the next few years. Yet all this pales, in the eyes of many, beside the need to “get Trump.”
Did the Clinton impeachment teach us nothing? The youngest representative elected this year, 29-year-old Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, wasn’t even out of grade school when the GOP brought that silly, smutty circus to town. And in the end, for all the news ink spilled and hot air spouted, Clinton remained firmly in office until the end of his second term. Imagine how much could have been done if Congress had simply left him alone and done its job.
Lawmakers, your job is not to get Trump out of the White House. That’s the voters’ job (if they choose to) in 2020. Your job is to represent your respective districts the best way you can and enact the laws that this country desperately needs. Give the posturing a rest and tackle some real issues.
The above editorial appeared in Thursday’s Columbia Basin Herald, Moses Lake.