Heading into the 3rd week of the government shutdown over border wall funding, I think it would be wise to see who has the edge in the current negotiations between Trump and the Democrats. It may seem like a total deadlock, but there are three factors which give Trump and his supporters a slight edge.
So let’s take a look at the three big reasons Trump has a political advantage in this deal. And just to note, these reasons deal with the political aspects of the fight, and not the merits of the border wall itself.
Trump has always been seen as a tough and at times stubborn negotiator – In politics, you can do things that reinforce your known and accepted attributes without taking any political damage. In this case, everyone who voted for Trump already knew he was a tough negotiator and someone who would play a game of chicken with their opponents in an effort to get his way.
So in this regard, Trump takes very little political damage by holding out as long as he needs to. He stands to lose no support by holding out as it only strengthens the image he has created for himself as a tough-as-nails negotiator willing to push things to the brink.
It’s the opposite for the Democrats, they ran on bringing some sort of stability and order to the House – Based on this, they have more to lose the longer the shutdown goes on simply because it runs opposite of what they promised. Democrats promised to be the “adults” in the room and now that they have taken control of the House, they immediately refuse to deal with Trump and the government is now shutdown indefinitely.
This is the opposite situation Trump is in. So on balance, it’s a disadvantage for the Democrats and they stand to lose the most politically the longer this goes on.
The public knows that Trump campaigned on building the wall, and he won the election. So to block him on it is totally on the Democrats and is nothing more than obstructionism on their part. When you win an election, you have every right to deliver on your campaign promises as that’s what the people voted for.
Trump has moves he can make, the Democrats don’t – Trump can declare a national emergency and move money around to fund the wall. Of course, this will be challenged in court, but it is still a move the President can make and the only move the Democrats have is to try to block it.
However, by Trump doing this, it gives the Democrats an out to save-face. They can claim that in order to stop Trump from running the country like an authoritarian, they will simply give him the wall funding he wants. Their story will be that they are caving in to save the country from further harm.
This shutdown is already a political loser for the Democrats long term. They can fall back on many other attacks on the President such as their never-ending Mueller investigation and other things. And while these attacks are all based on a false pretense, they are probably more politically advantageous for the Democrats than a fight on the border wall which keeps the government shutdown.
So from a strictly political viewpoint, Trump has the advantage in this fight. And knowing Trump, he was aware of that going in as he never takes on a fight he doesn’t hold winning the cards for. And while anything can happen, I would expect Trump to get his wall funding and the Democrats will find a way to save-face for the fact that they flinched first.
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