You know that neighbor with the organized garage and every tool imaginable? She doesn’t just loan you what you need; she comes over to your house to help fix what’s broken.
Competence. That was once America’s image. But the chaos resulting from the Trump administration’s ham-fisted handling of a ban on Syrian refugees and all visitors, including children in need of medical care, from seven mostly Muslim countries has presented an image of incompetence.
It’s painful to think of our country being perceived as bumbling.
Oh sure, there is always the example of the Department of Motor Vehicles, bedrock of hidebound bureaucrats. But these days, even there, you’re less likely to have to take your lunch, satchels of documents and a library of reading material just to renew your license. They’ve been improving. They smile. Some offices seek feedback.
That’s not currently true with immigration officials. In a week, they have been maligned globally. They are now seen as unfeeling autocrats incompetent to process legitimate visitors, students and immigrants already vetted for up to 24 months.
A 5-year-old boy pulled from his mother and held for hours at Dulles International Airport might be a terrorist? Families with proper documentation who have just flown across the Atlantic turned back into harm’s way?
We did that before World War II to a ship of Jews fleeing the Nazis. They were turned away, and a large number of them perished, some in concentration camps many Americans said didn’t exist.
Transparency and lack of corruption. That used to hallmark our government. We did not tolerate dictators getting richer at taxpayer expense.
Now we have a president who won’t show us his tax returns and insists he avoids conflicts of interest by turning his money-making operations over to his sons.
So who shows up at important White House events? His sons, the very ones who planned to extract $50,000 apiece for meetings with their dad before it was pointed out this was exceedingly illegal. But there they were at the unveiling of the president’s Supreme Court pick.
Who sits next to Trump at meetings with foreign dignitaries and business leaders? Who sets policy? His son-in-law. Somehow, in the new world of alternative facts, this is no longer seen as nepotism.
The administration told officials who disagree with the president to quit, including hundreds of diplomats who worry his policies make the nation less safe. Yet Trump has frozen federal hiring.
If we saw this happening elsewhere, we would be appalled. Not in our transparent democracy, we’d sniff.
We’ve been known for keeping our word. You can trust those Americans when they make a promise, the world said. Now? Not so much.
Iraqis who risked their lives and their families to help American soldiers by translating and working for them during a decade of war feel they were lied to because they are not being resettled here even though they may face death at home.
We promised to keep countries safe from invading Russian tanks. We promised to back NATO. Nobody knows what we will do now.
The frantic level of activity in the administration as Trump has rolled out executive orders willy nilly, almost none of them fully vetted by the people he has chosen to be in his Cabinet, has led to a perception around the globe of out-of-control chaos. It’s hard to keep track of all the arbitrary dictates.
A quick review:
No more enforcing Obamacare. Repeal two regulations for every new one. Ban Syrians indefinitely, all refugees for 120 days and visitors from seven nations for 90 days. Keep military and intelligence chiefs out of security council meetings unless invited. Stop returning tax dollars to cities that don’t turn over undocumented immigrants. Build a $15 billion wall on the Mexican border. Develop a plan in 30 days to eradicate the Islamic State. Let the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines go ahead. Defund international health programs that countenance abortion. Rip up trade agreements. Freeze federal hiring.
Competence. Government without corruption. Transparency. Keeping our word. Speaking truth to power. So yesterday.
Go give that competent neighbor a hug. And return her leaf blower.
Contact Ms. McFeatters at firstname.lastname@example.org.