John Nichols.

Author:Nichols, John
Position:BOOKS
 
FREE EXCERPT

Donald Trump is incapable of writing a serious book. And none of the Democrats who are currently bidding for the presidency have produced anything akin to a necessary book, in the tradition of the short text that John F. Kennedy wrote on the eve of his 1960 run, A Nation of Immigrants. Kennedy kept coming back to that book during his presidency, reflecting on it in speeches, referencing its arguments for the liberalization of immigration laws, and revising it for republication as he prepared for the 1964 re-election run in which he proposed to stitch together a divided country.

I thought a lot about Kennedy's book as I read Senator Jeff Merkley's America Is Better Than This: Trump's War Against Migrant Families (Twelve Books). Merkley, a Democrat from Oregon, pondered making a 2020 run but decided against doing so. That's too bad, because he has written an essential statement about our troubling times.

Merkley knows the immigration issue well. In 2018, he traveled to the U.S.-Mexican border and played a critical role in exposing, and challenging, the administration's child separation policies. Merkley's book traces issues to their roots, with a savvy recognition of how U.S. policies worsened conditions in Latin America and caused desperate families to flee their homelands and head north. It blasts Trump and his aides for their lies and cruelty. And it calls out Merkley s fellow Senators, using uncommonly (though certainly not...

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