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Sarah Gassen: Trump's self-indulgent 'emergency'

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Being told “no” is not a national emergency.

Trying to follow President Trump’s circuitous speech Friday in which he, eventually, declared a national emergency because he wants a border wall now was painful, as it always is when he tries to pass off his self-adulation as policy.

Trump, unable to get his way in negotiations with Democrats, decided to declare a national emergency to force taxpayers to pony up for a border wall we don’t want or need.

And in the midst of his announcement he admitted his border wall was an emergency that could, well, wait:

“I could do the wall over a longer period of time, I didn’t need to do this, but I’d rather do it much faster. And I don’t have to do it for the election; I’ve already done a lot of wall for the election 2020.”

It’s all about the people, isn’t it, Mr. President.

The true national emergencies are happening one person, one child, one family, one school, one community at a time.

These real emergencies happen every day.

The emergency is when rent can’t be paid and your family is put out.

The emergency is a second-grader doing his homework in the bathroom because it’s the least noisy place in the one-room trailer he shares with a grandparent and four siblings.

The emergency is knowing you can’t feed your family without help because your job doesn’t pay enough to cover the bills.

The emergency is not having reliable transportation and needing to take your child to school and yourself to work.

The emergency is rationing your insulin because you can’t afford the full dose.

The emergency is sleeping outside because you have nowhere else to go.

The emergency is gun violence in our streets, our schools, our businesses, our houses of worship.

The emergency is a classroom bursting at the seams being led by a teacher with a master’s degree who must work a second job to support her family.

The emergency is a crime victim refusing to call the police because they’re afraid immigration agents will be called.

The emergency is a child coming home to find her mother has been deported.

The emergency is losing a loved one to violence — no matter the murderer’s nationality.

The emergency is an elder living in loneliness.

The emergency is treating drug addiction only as a law enforcement problem.

The emergency is neighborhoods where children can’t safely walk to school and don’t get a quality education once they arrive.

These are the everyday emergencies that have ceased to be seen as emergencies, because they’ve gone on so long.

They’ve slipped into the realm of neglect and that’s-just-how-it-is.

And they’re certainly not the kind of emergencies that come with rallies of cheering crowds and television cameras.

Watch Trump for any length of time and you’ll witness his need to be seen as the adored savior, to latch on to people who’ve been real victims so he can play them for sympathy, appropriating their pain in his desperate need for approval.

Trump’s declaration of an emergency sets a dangerous precedent for the country, and it speaks to the hollowness of his agenda.

There is no hero worship to be had in feeding hungry children, no fame attached to giving families a safe place to live.

There’s no adoring crowd in putting together a food box for your neighbors or paying teachers what they’re worth.

Responding to these emergencies is far more important to our national safety than Trump’s wall could ever be.

No country or community can be safe or secure when so many of its people live every day without either.

Sarah Garrecht Gassen is the Star’s Opinion editor. Email her at


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