I am glad that the Trump Administration has made an about-face and decided to end its practice of separating parents and children at the border. But does anyone believe that this change of policy reflects a change of heart? Of course not. This is a forced response to overwhelming public revulsion and outrage; without external pressure, I have no doubt that the President and his team would be perfectly content to continue putting young children in cages.
The separation of families is not a one-off — it is fully of a piece with the larger story of this Presidency, and stands out only because it is more viscerally upsetting, not qualitatively different from countless other policies and practices that are just as shameful and terrifying.
From the day it took office and on literally each and every day since, this Administration has demonstrated moral bankruptcy, historical ignorance, and indifference to truth. It has rejected bipartisan democratic norms, undermined the rule of law, and abandoned core American values, while dragging one of our two major political parties deep into the darkness. There has never been a worse man in the Oval Office, nor a worse set of “leaders” enabling his horrifying statements and actions. No other administration even comes close. It is an American tragedy, which will end only when this corrupt group is expelled from office.
In the face of perpetual provocation, maintaining a sense of outrage is really hard. Hour by hour, day by day, we are simply worn down. It is too exhausting. And after a while, it starts seeming like the new normal. But the betrayal of American ideals is never normal. And this latest episode, in which public fury achieved some small success, demonstrates the necessity of outrage.