OPINION: A DACA Wake-up Call for Win-Win Victories in America
The most powerful judiciary institution in the world, the "Highest Court of the Land" recently rekindled nationwide talk about immigration issues.
Since then, immigration has yet to become anywhere close to the highest priority of the United States, Congress, and the White House. But an interesting phenomenon has emerged from this ruling, and it has nothing to do with immigration policy.
On June 18, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that the Trump administration did not follow correct protocol for termination of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Chief Justice John Roberts, who wrote the opinion of the court, stated: "The dispute before the Court is not whether DHS may rescind DACA. All parties agree that it may. The dispute is instead primarily about the procedure the agency followed in doing so." After reviewing the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), the court concluded that "the total [DACA] rescission was arbitrary and capricious."
Supreme Court decisions usually reignite more debate on particular issues. A combination of factors (increased lobbying, media coverage, reelection campaigns, etc.) normally prompts lawmakers to consider proposed bills and the President to implement revised and new policies. Social media frenzies are common nowadays, with people on different sides of issues arguing with fruitless capital letters, exclamation points, memes, and more.
Sometimes, Supreme Court rulings fuel undesirable and divisive violence. After the Supreme Court's horrid ruling in Dred Scott v. Sandford, America only became more divided between abolitionists and pro-slavery supporters, resulting in a bloody Civil War. In hindsight, many if not all of these decisions could have been avoided earlier or entirely, had politicians resolved political issues. Every ruling should be a lesson for how the country can move forward on unresolved matters.
The recent DACA ruling has done something different. Even amidst the partisanship, the decision has quietly given some people a small feeling that could bring more Americans together.
Many have treated the Supreme Court's recent DACA ruling as a complete victory. NBC News' story was titled "Supreme Court blocks Trump from ending DACA in big win for Dreamers." Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said he "cried tears of joy." During a campaign rally in Tulsa, President Trump stated that "we [Trump supporters] actually won on DACA." Even longtime Democrat strategist Maria Cardona writes in The Hill that the DACA decision is "a win for Trump." In partisan times, everyone struggles to name areas where people can agree on. In this case, the majority of people all agree on one thing: they won for their country, and winning makes them happy.
Washington needs to capitalize on people's "winning sentiment," bring those on different sides of issues together, and foster a truly democratic environment that leads to decent legislation and positive reform for America. In his book "The Winner Effect," psychology professor Ian Robertson discusses how winning "increases testosterone, which in turn increases the chemical messenger dopamine, and that dopamine hits the reward network in the brain, which makes us feel better."
When individuals feel like they're the only ones winning, they will only want to win for themselves. When individuals feel like they're winning alongside others (including those whom they disagree with), people become happier and feel like a strong team. This principle should be applied to our political system too. When people are frequently stuck in a zero-sum political game, no one will ever feel long-lasting victory. By fostering a bigger win-win political environment, perhaps people will pursue winning for the sake of winning less frequently. They will want to win for others. They will want to win because they love their country.
Imagine if lawmakers and citizens debated and discussed immigration in a civil manner, and felt like a winner after every stage of the legislative process. Even when people do not get everything they want, they can still feel like the country is making progress. Events like the recent DACA ruling can and should mark a new era of lawmaking and civics.
America still has a lot of hard and complex work ahead. People can disagree what counts as a victory, and no one can gain anything they want and win all the time. But in a polarized political environment, we want more winners, more wins, and more types of winning in Washington, D.C and the United States of America. More citizens can adopt a positive winning mindset and set a vision of a more unified, peaceful, prosperous, and free country.
The renowned American writer Dale Carnegie once said: "Success is getting what you want. Happiness is wanting what you get." Maybe this is why Thomas Jefferson and the Founders included the words "pursuit of happiness" in the Declaration of Independence. Let us find more opportunities so our country can heal, improve, and win for years to come.
Sherman Tylawsky is an Editor-at-Large for The National Times.