Immigration

Why Democrats Said No to Trump’s Border Compromise

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaks during a press briefing on Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C., January 17, 2019. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)
They view him as a devil they must defeat at all costs.

Lots of people are wondering just why Democrats rejected President Trump’s plan to reopen government agencies even before he announced the plan. House speaker Nancy Pelosi called it a “non-starter,” and Senate Democratic whip Dick Durbin rejected it even though, as the Daily Caller noted, Trump’s proposal to protect immigrant “Dreamers” from being deported “included everything” that Durbin had asked for “just over two years ago.”

The Washington Post editorial page, normally one of Trump’s harshest critics, was puzzled by the Democratic intransigence:

To refuse even to talk until the government reopens does no favors to sidelined federal workers and contractors. . . . A measure of statesmanship for a member of Congress now is the ability to accept some disappointments, and shrug off the inevitable attacks from purists, if it means rescuing the lives of thousands of deserving people living among us.

So why are Democrats so dug in? GOP congressman Peter King, who is frequently critical of Trump, says it’s because the issue of a border wall is secondary to their hatred of Trump. “The fear is, among the Democratic leadership, if they make any agreement with President Trump, it’s like compromising with the devil,” he told New York radio station AM970.

In other words, when Democrats now hear talk of “border security,” they think only of Trump and want to make sure that their base won’t see them as surrendering to him in any way. Forget the fact that Democrats have voted for a border barrier in the past and that the $5.7 billion Trump wants is meant only for stretches that U.S. Border Patrol officials have identified as needing barriers to interdict illegal entrants and drugs.

The Democrats seem have to been captured by the thinking of radical community organizer Saul Alinsky. The author of Rules for Radicals, Alinsky inspired both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. He used to tell his protégés that “the issue is never the issue.” As historian David Horowitz notes

The cause of a political action — whether civil rights or women’s rights — is never the real cause; women, blacks, and other “victims” are only instruments in the larger cause, which is power.

Indeed, the New Republic reported in a 2008 article that Alinsky would ask his new students why they wanted to organize. After they gave rambling answers about wanting to better social conditions, Alinsky would get angry and tell them that was all wrong. “You want to organize for power!” he screamed.

As columnist Roger Kimball emphasizes, almost everything the Democrats are now doing is about their hatred of Trump and the 2020 election:

The Democrats are attempting to destroy Trump, gambling that prolonging the government shutdown redounds to their benefit while also calculating that more illegal immigrants means more welfare recipients, which means more Democratic voters.

Polls show that President Trump has been hurt more politically than the Democrats by the government shutdown, but I suspect the longer it drags on, with Democrats unwilling to even negotiate seriously about Trump’s proposal, the worse the Left will look to voters.

The 2020 election will be decided by independent voters. Currently, about 55 percent say they oppose the wall. But even more believe that the debate over the wall shouldn’t be the obstacle to reopening the federal government. If Democrats continue to view Trump as a devil they can’t negotiate with, the onus for the government shutdown may start to shift to them.

Democrats have to recognize that the Trump Derangement Syndrome that drives much of their base often clouds their political judgment. If they persist in viewing him as a devil they can’t compromise with, they may soon find they’ve compromised their own standing with the American people.

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