The nation has just witnessed another orgy of political partisanship on steroids — the 69-hour governmental shutdown resulting from a standoff between Republicans and Democrats in Congress, with the GOP members carrying water for the immigration hardliners in President Donald Trump's White House.
The ostensible issues involved in the standoff were hardly trivial, with congressional Democrats basing their position on a determination to see the passage of enabling legislation for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA) and Republicans being just as determined to keep anything involving DACA out of the continuing resolution bill that was being prepared to maintain the operations of the federal government.
What underscores the absurdity of the conflict is the fact that, by general consent, clear majorities existed in both parties favoring DACA, which would shield from deportation and other penalties the children, many of them now grown and active participants in the economic and civic life of America, who were brought here by parents who were themselves illegal aliens.
Legislation to restore DACA was made necessary when Trump last year arbitrarily revoked the executive order by his predecessor, President Barack Obama, that had established the program. Trump, who has an obvious fetish for eradicating any possible vestige of Obama's two terms, claimed (and claims) that he, too, favors the concept of DACA but contended at the time that only Congress should authorize the program and set a deadline of March 4th for legislative reauthorization.
Basing their stand on a distrust of Trump's long-evident proclivity for reversing his stated positions regularly and whimsically, the Democrats obviously wished to nail the issue down as far in advance of the President's arbitrary deadline as possible.
Republicans, taking their cue from the aforementioned administration hardliners, resolved to resist dealing with DACA without a clear go-ahead from Trump, who has insisted on coupling DACA reauthorization with Congressional appropriations to enact his Great Wall fantasy on the border with Mexico, as well as on approval of an assortment of other harsh anti-immigrant positions. Hence, after some typical back-and-forthing from Trump that made hash of attempts to negotiate the matter, the impasse.
Disagreements are inevitable within a democratic framework, but they should be based upon legitimate divisions of opinion, not on Us-Against-Them invocations of party loyalty, which was so obviously the cause of the DACA standoff. The governmental shutdown was fairly quickly ended when the Democrats blinked and concurred with a GOP formula for a continuing resolution to extend to February 8th, at which time the DACA issue will still need resolution, and more urgently. To everybody's shame, party was put before country.