Trump’s Travel Ban and the Politics of Governance

President Trump’s second stab at the strenghtening of travel restrictions has been suspended for a second time

Via: Wikimedia Commons

The Ninth Circuit Court strikes down Trump’s ban again. What does does that mean for Trump’s administration?

Just hours before it was to be enacted, Derrick K. Watson, a federal judge based out of Honolulu, issued a temporary restraining order against Trump’s executive order, halting its implementation nationwide. The revised ban, which Trump called a “watered down” version of the original, has six important differences between the first and second executive orders. The new order is much clearer with regards to whom it applies to, exempting US citizens who also hold citizenship in a restricted country. Syrian refugees are no longer banned indefinitely. Christians are no longer prioritized as refugees. There is a loose description of a waiver process to be exempted on a case-by-case basis, and the order asks for a longer list of convicted terrorists.

These changes were made to make the ban survive the inevitable legal challenges, but Judge Watson was not convinced. In his decision, Watson repeatedly cites Trump’s own words and campaign statements, including a particularly scathing line — “For instance, there is nothing veiled about this press release: ‘Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.’” Judge Watson is taking President Trump both literally and seriously.

Judge Watson also cited Trump’s conversations with Rudolph Giuliani and Stephen Miller prior to the first travel ban.

Trump was preparing for another campaign-style rally when the news broke, and he vented his displeasure with the court’s decision to the crowd.

Trump was careful not to directly criticize Watson or the judiciary, but his veiled comments left few interpretations of his feelings. This comes a week prior to the start of the confirmation hearings for Judge Gorsuch, Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court to fill the seat of Justice Scalia.

Trump has continued to hold these campaign-style rallies, and the public is left to wonder, “Why?” Trump won the election, and will not face another re-election until 2020. It would seem Trump holds these events for his own benefit — he revels in the adulation of the crowd, and continues to fixate on his defeated opponent, Hillary. As the crowd in Tennessee chanted “Lock her up!” for the millionth time, I have to ask, “Why does Trump keep fixating on Hillary and the campaign?”

The answer, I think, is because he likes it. Trump loves the campaign trail and the energy of the crowd. He has a talent for motivating his base and compelling a crowd to a frenzy. Trump has no patience for the politics of governance. He clearly doesn’t spend much time reading briefings, preferring to live-tweet Fox and Friends each morning and read printed versions of Breitbart articles. I believe he is letting Bannon, Miller and Priebus handle the mundane details of governance, and choosing instead to be more of a fire-brand and motivator for his base. The second travel ban being blocked represents another setback for the Trump administration, which cannot get out of its own way.

The administration must find a way to succeed in the “mundane” details of governance. The debt limit suspension ended today, and the debt ceiling must be lifted in order for the government to avoid defaulting. Gorsuch will be put through the ringer in the confirmation process, and the health care bill faces stiff opposition by Democrats, and by Republicans that can do math and don’t actively hate their constituents. Trump & Co. must improve in the real aspects of governance, or else they will continue to appear as the dog that caught the car and is now unsure what to do. The Republicans are finding out it’s much easier to criticize others than to competently lead yourself.