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Frank Sharry on Trump’s Shutdown Talk: A Political Attempt to Divide and Distract Us Heading Into the Midterms

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Shutdown talk has nothing to do with policy, it’s nothing more than calculated politics; it unites Republicans, feeds the base and distracts from bread-and-butter issues that favor Democrats

Some observers are covering President Trump’s latest threats to shutdown the government over a border wall as a policy issue and a divisive tactic within the GOP. It is neither. Our take: it’s a calculated political strategy that unites rather than divides a Republican Party that has gone all-in on the idea of making the midterms primarily about xenophobia.  

By way of background, the Wall Street Journal reported last night that an administration official admitted, despite Trump’s public threats, “he has privately agreed to put off a potential shutdown or any fight over border wall funding until after the midterm elections.” In addition, the House of Representatives recently devoted precious congressional time to a purely symbolic messaging vote on support for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Finally, super PACs affiliated with Republican leaders Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell have unleashed a barrage of immigration attack ads in contested House and Senate races. So much for White House – Congressional leadership divisions.

The following is a statement from Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice (check out an accompanying Twitter thread here):

I’m going to go out on a limb: there will be no wall and there will be no shutdown. Voters beware: this is one of the meanest, most cynical bait-and-switch operations in recent political history. It is led by Trump  and fed by his do-nothing congressional allies.

All the talk about a border wall and shutdown is not about policy, it’s about narrative. It’s not about outcome, it’s about brand. It’s not about legislating, it’s about the midterms. It’s not about progress, it’s about attitude.

Don’t dignify his talk as anything more than rantings of a desperate man, in over his head, fearful of looking weak, knowing by now he’ll never get his wall, trying to preen as king of the hill, willing to break the china to show he’s still the bull.

Stop treating this as a real threat or a real policy proposal. Trump wants to gin up his base with xenophobia and racism because he seems to gets that the tax cut is not working and wages for his base are down, while the GOP’s wealthy donors are laughing all the way to the bank.

Trump and the GOP will do anything to keep the midterm conversation from a focus on declining wages, crumbling infrastructure, rising healthcare costs, budget deficits that threaten retirement security, etc. Anything to keep Ann Coulter, Laura Ingraham and Breitbart from criticizing him as going soft.

It’s a cynical and divisive strategy being embraced by all of the GOP, not just the Trumpian wing of the party. Given their unwillingness and inability to run on tax cuts, healthcare, or retirement security, the Republican midterm strategy seems to be one of deafening silence on what matters, loud roars on what doesn’t. So, Trump and the GOP election committees scream about immigration, stoking fear, dehumanizing immigrants and dividing Americans.

So what should Democrats say? Here’s our recommendation:

‘There he goes again. Talking about a wall that the American people don’t want and Mexico isn’t going to pay for. He’s changing the subject from the bread-and-butter issues we care about, dividing and distracting us, because he cares about himself not us. We need new leaders who will fight for stronger healthcare, investments in education, rising wages and an unwavering commitment to Social Security and Medicare, not politicians who point fingers and blame others. We need leaders who bridge racial difference and unite us so we can move forward together. So, every time you hear him threaten a government shutdown over a wall, say to yourselves: ‘there he goes again, trying to divide and distract us. We’ll show him who’s boss and what’s important this November.’

So, let’s keep our eye on the ball. Americans want leaders who inspire hope, bring us together and create change. We are done with politicians who stoke fear and tear us apart.