On Saturday he gave a speech outlining his plan to get a border wall and to re-open the U.S. government. But his plan was immediately rejected by Democrats, so it was a complete failure as a compromise, and it got him no more political support among either Democrats or independents.
Among Republicans and his anti-immigrant base of supporters, however, Trump’s proposal was a complete disaster.
Somehow, the self-described political genius in the Oval Office managed to make everybody unhappy, but especially Republicans. And in so doing, he has highlighted a major fissure within the GOP on the issue of immigration. He has opened a deep wound which will be very difficult to heal.
Trump’s compromise plan was to give 1 million immigrants (700,000 “Dreamers” under the DACA program and 300,000 resident refugees facing expiration of their “temporary protected status”) three years of protection from deportation in exchange for $5.7 billion in funding for the wall.
“Mainstream” Republicans such as GOP leaders on Capitol Hill, praised his leadership. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell agreed to get a Senate vote on his proposal next week.
But the anti-immigrant conservative wing of the party were incensed that Trump dared to offer “amnesty” to undocumented immigrants.
Ann Coulter tweeted:
“Trump proposes amnesty. We voted for Trump and got Jeb!”
Trump proposes amnesty. We voted for Trump and got Jeb!
— Ann Coulter (@AnnCoulter) January 19, 2019
And she wasn’t the only hardline Republican calling Trump’s plan “amnesty.”
James Carafano of the conservative Heritage Foundation issued a statement saying:
“Amnesty encourages further illegal immigration, incentivizes the tragedy of human trafficking, and undermines our citizens’ confidence in the rule of law.”
“Amnesty should not be part of any border security deal, especially given that many who today oppose a wall have publicly supported and even voted for physical barriers in the recent past.”
So the president has a huge political problem now. He managed to divide Republicans at a crucial time, while also solidifying a united Democratic Party that opposes him.
He has no chance of breaking Democratic opposition to his border wall. And congressional Democrats were quick to reject his plan.
The political question is whether Trump‘s latest proposal will shift the blame to Democrats for the longest government shutdown in history. Polls have consistently shown that most Americans blame him — he once said he would be “proud” to allow a lapse in funding for federal agencies in order to force Democrats to capitulate on the wall money — and that only about a third of them see Democrats as the culprits.
This is not likely to change after yesterday’s speech. So the shutdown is slowly but surely turning into a political disaster for Trump. And members of his own party are starting to panic.
Trump called for bipartisanship Saturday, even as he painted the Democratic Party as a hostage of its left-most fringe.
“These problems can all be solved but only if we have the political courage to do what is just and what is right,” he said, as he called for the two sides to “come together, listen to each other, put down their armor, build trust, reach across the aisle and find solutions.”
The U.S. government is no closer to opening now than it was before Trump’s speech. And Trump is no closer to getting cash for his wall now either.
All Trump did with his speech was create a split within his own party without being able to divide Democrats. He did not succeed in shifting the blame to them either.
Trump is floundering, and has no idea what he is doing. He should never have shut down the government, but now that he did, he has no clue as to how to end it. All he cares about is saving face, to protect his precious ego.
He will continue to claim that his proposal was not “amnesty” but this will not appease the right wing of his party. Mitch McConnell will continue to lick his boots in the Senate, but that won’t help either the president or the GOP in 2020.
And in the meantime, Democrats continue to gather political strength while Trump’s approval keeps going down in the polls.
The best resolution to the crisis we are in is for Bob Mueller to start issuing indictments and to put an end to the Trump presidency before it does any more damage to our country.
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.