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By: Elias J. Atienza
President Donald Trump has gone through a turbulent first two weeks. Rocked by protests, marches, and lawsuits, his administration still doesn’t have most of their cabinet picks confirmed. Add to that the fact that Senate Democrats are promising to filibuster his Supreme Court pick, and a federal judge blocked a part of his executive order barring immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries.
Many liberals are up in arms against Trump’s actions and many conservatives have struck back with the “Obama did it” argument. This is used to point out hypocrisy for liberals who applauded everything President Barack Obama did, including bombing more countries than President George W. Bush, to expanding the surveillance state, and even temporarily suspending the Iraqi refugee program.
Yes, liberals are hypocritical.
While they protest against a man who has temporarily barred immigration from seven different countries, most on the left were silent when Obama ended the “wet foot, dry foot” system that has been in place for decades, which effectively stranded at least a 1,000 Cuban refugees in Mexico. While at least 109 people were stranded by Trump’s executive order, there was no large outcry, no blocking of airports and protests against Obama’s actions.
As a writer in Rare pointed out:
“Because most did not pay attention to Obama’s anti-immigrant policies. There was no 24-hour, days long cable news barrage about it. There were no hashtags, social media campaigns or protests. The pain was just as real for those suffering, but the coverage and popular reaction were almost nonexistent.”
They stood silent as President Obama aggressively expanded the surveillance state that was revealed by Edward Snowden. As the erosion of the 4th Amendment continued under Obama’s presidency, there were no large scale protests as millions of innocent Americans data were swept up in a vast net by the National Security Agency. They stood silent as the White House pressured House Democrats to oppose a bipartisan coalition lead by Representative Justin Amash (R-Mich) to place serious limits on the NSA’s spying programs.
They stood silent as Team Obama justified killing a sixteen year old teenager who was looking for his father in Yemen.
As Conor Freidersdorf wrote in The Atlantic:
“Again, note that this kid wasn’t killed in the same drone strike as his father. He was hit by a drone strike elsewhere, and by the time he was killed, his father had already been dead for two weeks. Gibbs nevertheless defends the strike, not by arguing that the kid was a threat, or that killing him was an accident, but by saying that his late father irresponsibly joined al Qaeda terrorists. Killing an American citizen without due process on that logic ought to be grounds for impeachment. Is that the real answer? Or would the Obama Administration like to clarify its reasoning? Any Congress that respected its oversight responsibilities would get to the bottom of this.”
No widespread protests. No hashtags, no social media campaigns. Nothing but silence from the majority of the left. There might have been some peeps from them since a raid killed Anwar Al-Awlaki’s daughter, who is an American citizen, along with several dozen civilians, which was all sanctioned by President Trump. But so far?
They stood silent as Obama drastically expanded the wars in the Middle East. While he didn’t put as many ground troops as Bush did, he helped further destabilize the region. When Obama bombed Libya without congressional approval, there was no widespread anti-war movement. Sure, there were some squabbles from the remnants of the anti-war left, but it was the libertarian’s voices who were the loudest. Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky), Justin Amash, among others, who viciously defended the Constitution and berated the President for continuing the foreign policy mistakes of the past.
The list can go on about liberals hypocritical actions, but they should do some self-examination about having selective outrage.
But that doesn’t mean conservatives should use Obama to justify Trump’s executive actions. By doing this, they continue the trend of scapegoating the previous administration to continue their support for the terrible actions of the current president.
Was Obama right in barring refugees from Iraq for six months in 2011? Probably not, though his executive actions were a bit different from Trump’s widespread action, as explained by USA Today.
Is Trump right in barring refugees and immigrants from the seven countries in his executive order? Probably not, because out of the 3.25 million refugees settled in the United States since 1975, only 20 have been linked to terrorist charges. In addition, the CATO Institute found that “the measures taken here will have virtually no effect on improving U.S. national security.” Of course, some conservatives who want people to help refugees on their own will still be mad when a major company like Starbucks does exactly that.
By referencing Obama, conservatives hope to expose the hypocrisy of the left. And they are doing that very well.
But in the end, they will end up paying the price later down the road when Trump is out of office in 4 to 8 years. They protested Obama using executive orders, decrying his “I’ve got a pen, and I’ve got a phone” as executive overreach, but applaud Trump when he uses executive orders to accomplish his goals.
They will regret it if the next President after Trump is a Democrat and does exactly what Trump did; and instead of it being Obama being blasted, it will be Trump.
So please stop using Obama as an excuse to justify Trump. All it does is continue the cycle of blaming the previous administration in order to avoid taking responsibility. As long as conservatives and liberals play partisan politics, we’ll be stuck in this idiotic debate.
Justify Trump’s actions using your own logic, not continuing the downward spiral of American politics.