Before the distraction of Robert Mueller’s congressional testimony and its inconsequence, the nation had been roiling over President Trump’s tweet that four progressive, minority congresswomen should “go back” to the countries “they originally came from.” The president's critics condemned the tweet as racist and xenophobic. He and his supporters responded that it was a justified demand that Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D, NY), Ilhan Omar (D, MN), Ayanna Pressley (D, MA), and Rashida Tlaib (D, MI) stop criticizing the nation and its government's policies.
This post focuses on a different problem with the tweet, one that has gotten overlooked: it was a direct attack on representative government and the U.S. Constitution. And the attack has been repeated in Trump and his supporters’ subsequent comments.
In their 2018 election campaigns, Ocasio-Cortez, Omar, Pressley, and Tlaib were explicit about what messages and ideas they would take to Washington. Agree with them or not, the legislators are now in Congress doing what their constituents elected them to do. Because the four are following their voters’ will, Trump and his supporters say the congresswomen should leave the Capitol and/or the country.
Trump and his supporters may consider this a patriotic defense of the United States. But the demand to “Send them back!”—even if just campaign rhetoric—strikes at the nation’s founding principles. It is as much a violation of America’s ideals as celebrating the country’s independence with a display of military might rather than a tribute to individual liberty and democratic representative government.