The entire world apparently believes that President Donald J. Trump “caved”to the Democrats over the issue of the government shutdown. Last Friday, the president took to the cameras to issue an announcement that a deal had been reached between himself and the Democratic Party. After the president’s announcement, Senate Democratic Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and the Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi immediately declared victory.
Like Leonidas at Thermopylae in the film 300, we are led to believe that the defiant Nancy Pelosi threw a spear that cut the face of the god-king emperor, making him bleed. With that, the Left is energized as never before, as they realize that Trump could be defeated.
So, that’s it, folks. Game over. Trump is a quisling, just like George H.W. Bush, and the Right got duped again by one of its own leaders.
But, this analysis — like so many “Fake News” stories since 2016 — is painfully inaccurate.
Even before Trump’s announcement, it was clear that he was fighting a losing battle on the matter of the government shutdown. Having backed himself into a corner, Trump dutifully held strong. And, make no mistake, by demanding that he receive no less than $5 billion for the border wall in exchange for reopening the government, Trump’s gambit was having some impact: Democrats were privately conceding that their constituents favored a wall.
As usual, though, Trump had no backup in Washington, D.C.
If you’ll remember, last week the Republican-controlled Senate allowed two bills to be voted on concerning reopening the government. One bill was a Democratic Party plan and the other was a Republican bill. Both lost. Although, the Democratic bill got more votes than the Republican one did. And, the Conservative Coward Caucus on Capitol Hill immediately hit the chicken-switch when they saw the vote tallies.
From the start of the government shutdown, Republican leaders — particularly Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), a.k.a. “The Turtle” — were skeptical of Trump’s decision to use the shutdown as a bargaining chip to get funding for the wall. Last week, with the Senate having brought forward the two bills meant to reopen the government, The Turtle was indicating his silent opposition to Trump’s intransigence. Inevitably, McConnell’s silent resistance to Trump was going to get louder. He was going to have his Senate Republicans vote with the Democrats to reopen the government, undermining Trump.
Given this, Trump opted to end the shutdown on his own terms.
The keyboard commandos on Twitter argued that Trump had become a “cuck” for the elite in Washington. In fact, Trump behaved as any real man would have in a similar situation: faced with a lose-lose scenario, Trump opted to go out on his own terms; to make the best of a terrible situation.
That’s stoicism, not cowardice.
I know what some of you are thinking: rather than allowing for the perception of defeat, why didn’t the president just keep the government closed and force the Republicans to abandon him? Why not publicly illustrate how outmatched we Deplorables are in the halls of power?
Because, ultimately, Trump must play politics if he is to continue on with the MAGA agenda. Had Trump lost in such a shocking and public way, whatever political capital he had going forward would have been squandered. By at least preserving the appearance that he’s a team player; by heeding the ridiculous calls to abandon the shutdown by the Conservative Coward Caucus, Trump maintains the appearance of unity within his own party. He maintains a significant amount of political capital this way, as well. In effect, Trump can push ahead in the long-run and fight for more things that we Deplorables all want.
Just look at what’s happened already. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) of all people is demanding that Democrats come to the table and negotiate with the Republicans to fund the wall, since Trump reopened the government. After all, a large cohort of the Democratic Party’s leadership voted to fund the construction of a wall just 12 years ago and most of those Democrats are still in office today. At the end of the day, a consensus exists on the need for increased border security. At least now all sides are talking.
What’s more, the president did not give up anything; he merely punted to get a better position on the field. In three weeks, should no movement be made in the negotiating, Trump can (and most likely will) shut down the government again. And, if necessary, declare a state of emergency so that a wall can be constructed without Congressional approval.
One thing is certain, however: Trump’s greatest political threat comes not from the crazies on the Left. Unfortunately, his greatest rivals are within the Republican Party’s leadership. It’s important to remember that President Ronald Reagan faced a similar situation.
Going forward, Trump must do something bold to make the GOP establishment understand that he is the party’s true leader. Up next, then, Trump should call for the biggest infrastructure bill the country has seen — and he should work with Democrats to ensure that it happens, even as the Conservative Coward Caucus whinges about how awful having modern infrastructure would be for the country.
Brandon J. Weichert can be reached via Twitter @WeTheBrandon.