As President Trump announced that he would reopen the government for 3 weeks – until February 15 – without having the much vaunted “deal” in place, Democrats celebrated a victory and Republicans wept at an apparent loss, but few seemed to understand exactly what just happened.
Regardless of whether you support the idea of a southern border wall between the U.S. and Mexico, it’s time to face a few facts regarding the political machinations that have led to the complete polarization of American politics. And more importantly, it’s time to realize that the political intrigue taking place has more than one dimension.
To Support or Not To Support
The two wretched aspects of this are that Trump’s opposition has so spectacularly failed to realize they have just been zugzwanged – as in, the endgame of chess when your opponent is forced to move into checkmate. And the second aspect is that Trump supporters have accepted the Democrat narrative wholeheartedly. Pundits such as Anne Coulter – once one of the president’s strongest advocates – have demanded that he “break ground, not promises.”
But for those who listened to the president’s speech, he made it incredibly clear that the wall would begin construction in three weeks … whether the Democrats were on board or not. As White House press sec Sarah Sanders pointed out directly afterward:
“In 21 days President @realDonaldTrump is moving forward building the wall with or without the Democrats. The only outstanding question is whether the Democrats want something or nothing.”
If this wasn’t indication enough, the president himself said to reporters:
“We’ll work with the Democrats and negotiate, and if we can’t do that, then we’ll do a – obviously we’ll do the emergency because that’s what it is. It’s a national emergency,”
And from a legal standpoint, he can do it. But it appears partisan ears are deaf.
The Democrats are faced with a choice, they can either continue to oppose funding and then just cry out to the heavens as the first posts are planted, or they can get on board and claim a minor win for themselves and for the country.
A three-year DACA extension is on the table, and a three-year relief for those under temporary protected status is on offer … all they have to do is the one thing they seem unwilling or unable to bear: compromise.
If Trump has to go the National Emergency route, the Democrats lose from both ends. A wall gets built, and they have refused to protect the people they claim to care about. Of course, the president could always stick the knife in by building the wall without Democrat support and then grant the DACA and TPS extensions anyway.
It’s difficult to see any other way for Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi to save face. In fact, their only option other than compromise is to ramp up the rhetoric and begin trying to remove powers from the Executive branch. This is a dangerous precedent that will, as with most legislation made in retaliation, turn around and bite them where the sun doesn’t shine.
We’re witnessing a failure of good governance. Brinkmanship and partisan priority are the orders of the day, and this is detrimental. Trump will not back down on building the wall, one way or another, and he is the elected president. If the Democrats want to tear the wall down when they eventually come back into power – and they will – then that is their prerogative. But in the meantime, they should try their utmost to get something out of it. If they don’t, it will expose once and for all, that their purpose is power, and all the rest just window dressing.