Trump Has Got Democrats Right Where He Wants Them[Comment at Unz.com]
Thomas B. Edsall FEB. 1, 2018
President Trump’s immigration proposal has put Democrats in a bind; they know it and he knows it.
Trump’s immigration “framework” — first outlined on Jan. 25 — represents an unusually sophisticated strategy. He proposes to more than double the number of Dreamers granted a path to citizenship, a significant concession to Democrats.
In return, he seeks approval of a set of policies strongly opposed by the left, each of which is designed to stem what Trump sees as a threatening increase in the nonwhite population of the United States.
…Trump, acutely aware of the importance of DACA to Democrats, deliberately turned the status of Dreamers into a crisis on Sept. 5 when he ended the Dreamers program. …
Since then, DACA has been the subject of constant debate and negotiation. Democrats have continued to threaten to shut down the government, when the Treasury runs out of money on Feb. 8, if no favorable agreement can be reached.
Trump’s proposal more than meets Democratic demands on DACA. But in return Trump wants Democrats to swallow three proposals of varying unpalatability. …
Despite these complaints, there are many political analysts sympathetic to the Democratic plight who contend that Trump has boxed Democrats in.
Steven Gold, a sociologist at Michigan State University, emailed me:
Many Democrats fear that extensive investments and political posturing made on behalf of immigrants will be regarded as of little value to a large swath of independent voters whose support Democrats need to increase their representation in Congress.In a reference to the demonstrated electoral liabilities of so-called “identity politics,” Gold argued that concerned Democrats worry that
by emphasizing particularistic rather than practical issues with a broad impact, they will once again lose the politically advantageous position that appears to be taking shape for them in 2018 and 2020.
More bluntly, Nolan McCarty, a political scientist at Princeton, declared in an email responding to my inquiry:
The Democrats don’t have a lot of good options other than to support it enough that it can pass with unified Republican support.McCarty explained further:
Blocking it would allow the Trump Administration to suggest that the Democrats were willing to trade Dreamers for “lottery” and “chain” migration, as well as position them as soft on border security.An advantage in accepting the Trump proposal, McCarty continued,
is that border security appropriations and visa programs can be fixed if the Democrats regain control. The effects of Dreamer deportations and/or sending them back into the shadows is far less reversible.Trump and Stephen Miller, a senior adviser to the president, have clearly made this calculation and decided that they win either way. Take, for example, the following tweet from the president’s account on Jan. 27:
I have offered DACA a wonderful deal, including a doubling in the number of recipients & a twelve year pathway to citizenship, for two reasons: (1) Because the Republicans want to fix a long time terrible problem. (2) To show that Democrats do not want to solve DACA, only use it!
Robert L. Borosage, president of the left-liberal Institute for America’s Future, argued that Democrats should make every effort to get the immigration issue off center stage. “In my view,” Borosage said in an email, “Trump wins as long as we’re arguing about this. So it would be good to get this done soon.”Borosage went on:
What should Democrats do? I’d take the deal, after pushing for concessions on family unification and lottery system, and pushing against full commitment of $25 billion as an outrage.Bruce Cain, a political scientist at Stanford, makes the case that political logic favors Democratic cooperation with Trump on immigration:
If the Democrats compromise on a few of the non-DACA items and the (Congressional) Republican position is no DACA relief, then the Republican position becomes untenable and looks as though are caving to their extreme nativist faction. And if the Democrats make their position a clean bill on DACA and no compromise on the other items, it hands the Republicans a perfect wedge item going into the 2018 election, possibly keeping them in control of both houses.In fact, I found an unexpectedly high percentage of the experts I contacted — most of whom are sympathetic to the plight of immigrants — in general agreement that Democrats would be wise to come to some kind of an agreement with Trump.