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After yesterday’s jaw-dropping Oval Office meeting and President Trump’s open admission that he wants to shut down the government over a border wall, here are a few related reflections.
President Trump and Republicans tried to make the midterms a referendum on immigration, the caravan, and border security. While Trump and the GOP succeeded in making the homestretch all about immigration fear-mongering, the American people soundly rejected the Trump/GOP vision, with 40 House seats flipping Democratic and the GOP shedding support across most segments of the electorate, including losing by big margins the voting blocs that are growing in size ahead of 2020.
Yesterday, David Drucker of the Washington Examiner described internal Republican polling that adds fresh evidence to the notion that xenophobia backfired in 2018:
Republican operatives in the 2018 trenches, now formulating battle plans for the next election, are backing the suburban Republicans blaming Trump for their ejection from Congress. In reviewing polling and other data, they discovered that the president’s provocative immigration rhetoric was more damaging to the House GOP during the final seven to 10 days than they realized at the time … The president’s near-singular focus on those issues repelled Hispanics, independents and soft Republicans, turning a race for House control that leaned Democratic into a late-breaking GOP bloodbath.
Now, Trump and Republicans are trying to pretend the midterms never happened and are threatening a government shutdown over the border wall and wasteful funding for DHS to implement his draconian immigration vision.
The idea that Trump should be rewarded for a vanity project that is offensive, ineffective, and wasteful is ridiculous. Republicans control Washington. The reason the border wall hasn’t passed during the past two years is because it is a terrible idea that the American people overwhelmingly oppose. It’s nothing more than a Trump rally chant that’s morphed into a sham policy idea.
As Greg Sargent of the Washington Post assessed after yesterday’s Oval Office meeting,
[O]ne hopes that if this does turn into a serious and protracted standoff, Democrats will keep in mind that Republicans are privately concluding that Trump’s closing hate message was deeply toxic for them
… Tuesday’s events really underscore that Democrats must not give any ground in this showdown. Everyone knows Trump’s call for a wall has zero in the way of real policy justification. As I’ve argued, Democrats must use their new House majority to get back into the fight against Trump’s war on facts, and mount a stand on behalf of empiricism and good faith governing. Trump’s display of lies, bad faith and destructive threats cannot be rewarded. Especially coming after a midterm that Republicans themselves say demonstrated the bone deep toxicity of Trump’s xenophobic nationalism, it must be unambiguously repudiated.
The GOP has a choice – continue to follow Trump and his hardliners down the rabbit hole and risk repeating 2018 over and over or find a way to begin speaking to the broader American electorate that is tired of Trump’s extremism and nativism and wants leaders to bring them together.
New polling from CNN, conducted by SSRS, finds that the American public broadly disapproves of “the way Donald Trump is handling immigration,” with 54% expressing disapproval and just 39% approval. Notably, some of the segments of the electorate that have sharply broken against the GOP are among the most overwhelmingly disapproving of Trump on immigration – including women (64-30% disapproval); non-white respondents (66-24% disapproval); under 45-year olds (58-34% disapproval), along with disapproval among every single age breakdown listed; and independents (52-38% disapproval).
New polling from NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist Poll asked “Do you think building a wall between the US and Mexico should be an immediate priority for Congress, should not be an immediate priority, or the issue should not be a priority at all for Congress? 50% of respondents said “not a priority at all,” with an additional 19% saying “not an immediate priority,” compared to just 28% who said an “immediate priority.” The same poll also found that by a 57-36% margin, respondents said “President Trump should compromise on the border wall to prevent gridlock” over “President Trump should not compromise on the border wall even if it means a government shutdown.”
Of course, the hardline Republican base has been whipped up into a frenzy and are the outliers on these questions – will more responsible elements of the GOP start charting a different course or continue to allow Trump and his nativism define them?
The following is a statement from Matt Hildreth, Political Director of America’s Voice:
With the Trump administration having just spent several hundred million dollars deploying troops to the border for wasteful political theatre, we don’t need to inflate the price tag for another wasteful and harmful project that is more about assuaging Trump’s ego than solving any problem.. The American people voted in November to put an end to Trump’s “Build the Wall” politics of division.
As Trump’s own mistreatment of workers and gross immigration hypocrisy are being exposed at his own golf club, it’s a reminder why elected officials should reject the stupid border wall and instead work towards an affirmative immigration policy vision that values immigrants’ contributions.