On the Shutdown, Trump Played the Odds
ARTICLE FIRST APPEARED IN AMERICANTHINKER, BY GARY GINDLER
The U.S. federal government (more precisely, only one quarter of the government) was shut down for 36 days. Opinions of this shutdown, as expected, vary. In the left camp, a victory is celebrated, and in the right camp, the range of assessments extends from bitterness of defeat (the majority) to cautious optimism like “well, we will see who wins” (a minority).
However, an idea that does not occur to anyone to consider is one of Trump’s victory, no matter how unusual it sounds.
Why is this view not considered? Probably because it is based on the emotional background of the conflict – that is, the personal confrontation between Donald Trump and Nancy Pelosi, who is reveling in her newly acquired power. However, let’s ask ourselves: would Trump’s position change if, instead of Pelosi, there was someone else? Hardly anyone could argue that it was Pelosi who determined Trump’s political moves.
In other words, would Trump have initiated a partial government shutdown if someone else owned a gavel in the House of Representatives (Republican, Democrat, or someone else – that doesn’t matter anymore)? Of course he would, because his main strategic task is the wall on the southern border – not just a wall as a barrier, but a wall as a symbol of the sovereignty of the country.
To achieve this goal, Trump needs to drive the opposition into a deliberately uncomfortable corner – so uncomfortable that the opposition will begin to seriously think about its strategic role: either stubborn obstructionism or a constructive opposition.
What can make the Democrats do this? Only public opinion. The opposition of Trump and Pelosi should be reconsidered from this point of view – not from the standpoint of the opposition of the gladiator Trump and the gladiator Pelosi, but from the standpoint of winning the sympathies of the spectators in the political Coliseum. Then the idea of Trump’s winning immediately moves from the realm of fantasy to the realm of reality.
For about one month, Trump slowly, step by step, squeezed out from the media narrative all the informational garbage not related to the problem of illegal immigration. In a month, everything suddenly became secondary: North Korea, Syria, economy, trade wars with China, the unemployment rate, and racial problems. No one is participating in heated debates over the fact that the number of vacant jobs in America has exceeded the number of unemployed. Few people outside Washington are interested in the vicissitudes of the Mueller investigation. Except for small fringe groups, no one raises the issue of impeachment. Everything has faded into the background except the wall.
As a result, Trump skillfully imposed his agenda on America. As part of this agenda, there came a clear understanding that two ideologies clashed in Washington – one that aims to turn America into a country akin to Venezuela, and the other to build a wall on the southern border. The tasks set by these ideologies are serious strategic goals, and Trump’s achievement is the political equivalent of a successful reversal of the Titanic right before an iceberg encounter.
Thanks to Trump, no one in America is left with any doubt about the actual positions of the two opposing sides. It is now clear to all American citizens that the Republicans’ position is to close the border and open the government, while the Democrats prefer to open the border and close the government.
Trump has skillfully arranged the scenery for the next stage of political drama. At the same time, he wisely saved his trump card for the final act, either in the form of a declaration of national emergency,or the wall built by the U.S. Army (the law allows this to be done even without the consent of Congress). Moreover, the Democrats are unaware: for some reason, they consider the partial government shutdown advantageous for them. If for the Democrats the upcoming 21 days of negotiations with Trump are a sign of their victory, then for Trump, 21 days of negotiations are the gun on the wall, which, according to Chekhov, must necessarily fire in the third act.
Declaring a state of emergency in America is a fairly frequent thing. President Obama declared national emergencies 12 times, and President G.W. Bush 13 times. By law, a national emergency may be declared by the president for only one year, but, as a rule, all presidents extend their own emergency declarations and the emergency declarations of their predecessors.
Trump extended all the emergencies declared by Presidents Obama, Bush, and Clinton. In addition, Trump extended the national emergency associated with Iran, which President Carter had previously declared. Currently, there are 31 active national emergencies in the United States. For reference, the U.S. Congress has the right to cancel a declaration of a national emergency, but only if both houses of Congress vote for it with a two-thirds majority.
The Democrats still haven’t realized what happened to them. It seems that none of them read Machiavelli. After all, they just had to back down and quietly lose a small (only about 0.1% of the U.S. federal budget) political battle over the wall on the border with Mexico, but at the same time save their entire army of supporters, their entire reputation, and their entire political capital that would enable them to confront Trump in the next stage of political struggle.
The Democrats went all in. What the Democrats have done is worse than a betrayal of American citizens; this is a mistake.
Note that one of the key players, Mueller, understood what was going on and tried to change the course of the news cycle imposed by Trump. Mueller’s photogenic arrest of Roger Stone had stopped the talk about illegal immigration and the wall for a few hours. However, this did not last long.
In conclusion, let’s remind the Democrats about one of the best known of Murphy’s Laws: “If everything seems to be going well, you have overlooked something.”