GOP shouldn’t give in to Trump’s tantrum

San Francisco Chronicle - Late Edition (Sunday) - - NATION - By Eric Swal­well

A few days ago, my 19-month-old son, Nel­son, threw a tantrum be­cause his baby sis­ter was hold­ing a toy he wanted.

Any par­ent knows that if you give in to a tod­dler ev­ery time he pitches a fit, he’ll keep pitch­ing fits to get what­ever he wants. Sadly, House and Se­nate Repub­li­cans don’t un­der­stand that about our pres­i­dent.

The Se­nate on Dec. 19 voted unan­i­mously — and how of­ten does that hap­pen?!? — to keep our gov­ern­ment open; the House was poised to do the same. Then came the pres­i­dent’s tantrum over fund­ing for his wall, and just as he had promised days ear­lier, he chose to shut down the gov­ern­ment.

On Thurs­day, House Democrats’ first act in the ma­jor­ity was to pass re­spon­si­ble leg­is­la­tion re­open­ing gov­ern­ment. But sud­denly what GOP leader Mitch McCon­nell deemed per­fectly ac­cept­able two weeks ago is no longer so, and Pres­i­dent Trump’s tantrum con­tin­ues.

It’s not even re­motely rea­son­able; de­mand­ing a solid wall along the en­tire U.S.-Mex­ico bor­der is fool­ish.

The pres­i­dent doesn’t em­brace re­al­ity, but maybe some Repub­li­cans in Congress still do. Most un­doc­u­mented im­mi­grants are peo­ple who have over­stayed their visas. Most drugs en­ter­ing the U.S. are smug­gled in through le­gal points of en­try. And un­doc­u­mented im­mi­grants are less likely to com­mit crime than na­tive-born ci­ti­zens.

Those aren’t opin­ions. They’re facts sup­ported by data. But squalling tod­dlers don’t lis­ten to facts — they just keep de­mand­ing their toys.

So as the pres­i­dent de­mands his toy, Amer­i­cans have been made to suf­fer. Fed­eral law en­force­ment agents have been forced to work with­out pay. Small busi­ness loans have been halted. Home mort­gage ap­pli­ca­tions have been slowed. Crit­i­cal ser­vices have been stopped for farm­ers as they plan for the plant­ing sea­son. Our na­tional parks stink of garbage and over­flow­ing toi­lets.

Emily G., one of my con­stituents, told me her hus­band serves in the U.S. Coast Guard. The Coast Guard is part of the Depart­ment of Home­land Se­cu­rity, so his pay wasn’t pro­tected in this shut­down.

“My hus­band has been gone since Septem­ber, and we sac­ri­fice ev­ery day with pride for this coun­try. I feel like we are a pawn in the pres­i­dent’s game for his bor­der wall, and it feels ter­ri­ble to know that our pay is in the crosshairs,” she said. “My hus­band’s 25-year com­mit­ment to the Coast Guard and our coun­try should not be treated this way.”

Amen to that. This is not gov­ern­ment of the peo­ple, by the peo­ple, for the peo­ple. This is chaos of Trump, by Trump, for Trump.

If we spend bil­lions to pla­cate him now, for what will he throw a tantrum next time? Re­peal­ing health care for mil­lions of Amer­i­cans? Fur­ther dis­man­tling our en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tions? More cozy­ing up to mur­der­ous dic­ta­tors? Candy for din­ner? (Oh, wait, that last one is Nel­son again — or is it?)

No, we can’t make pol­icy de­ci­sions based on pla­cat­ing a tod­dler. It’s up to the adults to make the adult de­ci­sions.

Let’s do the adult, re­spon­si­ble thing and re­open our gov­ern­ment. Let’s not al­low the pres­i­dent to hold hostage the ser­vices and as­sis­tance Amer­i­cans pay for and de­serve. Let’s force him to em­brace re­al­ity and act his age.

Rep. Eric Swal­well rep­re­sents Cal­i­for­nia’s 15th Con­gres­sional District, in the East Bay, and co-chairs the House Demo­cratic Steer­ing and Pol­icy Com­mit­tee. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @RepSwal­well. To com­ment, sub­mit your let­ter to the ed­i­tor at SFChron­i­cle.com/let­ters.

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