“Donald Trump just allowed Nancy to walk all over him,” tweeted Toni Lauren of Fox Nation. “Good news for George Herbert Walker Bush: As of today, he is no longer the biggest wimp ever to serve as President of the United States,” tweeted the ever profound Ann Coulter.
Meanwhile, there were so many headlines about Trump “caving” that Merriam Webster dictionary reported a 1500% increase in searches for the meaning of the term.
This is just the immediate fallout for Trump’s caving in on the government shutdown. Everybody loves a winner, and Nancy Pelosi has emerged as the winner in this battle. She did so by being able to hold her troops together while the Republicans started to crack. In fact, that was inevitable the minute that the “master negotiator”, brilliant genius that he is, said he’d be proud to own this shutdown.
Trump’s polling figures were starting to sink – down to 60% disapproving of how he’d been handling the shutdown. Even on the issue of “border security, the latest poll showed that 42% trusted the Democrats to handle the issue vs. 40% trusting the Republicans. This is similar to public perception of handling “national defense” during the Cold War. At that time, in most instances there was a greater confidence in the Republicans. In other words, even on this right-wing issue, the Democrats are stealing the march on their rivals.
Where from here?
While the hard right mad bombers like Ann Coulter fume, the more strategic bombers have different ideas. The Wall St. Journal editors explain that while Pelosi emerged as the winner “in the short term. We’ll now see if she’s serious about negotiating a deal on immigration or simply wants to humiliate Mr. Trump…. Mr. Trump’s strategy, to the extent he had one, was to hold his breath until Mrs. Pelosi gave in. She merely had to do nothing to win…” The WSJ editors went on to attack Stephen Miller and, by implication, the other mad bombers. They propose that Trump appear reasonable by raising the cause of the Dreamers, maybe even having a public appearance with one or two of them. (There’s never a shortage of traitors, including among the Dreamers, some of whom would be happy to appear alongside this bigot-in-chief.) They conclude: “Does [Pelosi] want to ease the deportation fears of more than a million residents, or does she want to spite Mr. Trump and flog immigration as a political issue through 2020? The risk for Democrats is that, sooner or later, the voters will figure out that Democrats are using the Dreamers and undocumented immigrants as political pawns. That’s the case Mr. Trump should be making to the voters to recover from this shutdown fiasco.”
Trump in bind
The problem with this strategy is that Trump’s hard core support is based on chauvinism and racism. They simply don’t want more dark skinned people entering the country. They will rebel against anything that even hints at allowing some Latin Americans to stay. On the other hand, the majority of people in the US, including many whites, are put off by open bigotry. So, Trump has to use the dog-whistle of “border security”.
But there is also another problem: The Democrats have completely conceded the issue. They, too, completely concede that there is a border security crisis. As oaklandsocialist pointed out in a previous article, this also includes Bernie Sanders. Nor has Ocasio-Cortez directly tackled the issue. She, too, has failed to explain that this is simply a manufactured crisis, a dog whistle for racists.
As oaklandsocialist wrote, this is a manufactured crisis. Even on the matter of drugs, the crisis is not caused by smugglers, which is to say the suppliers, no matter how they get into the country; it’s caused by the demand; it’s caused by the social conditions that drive the millions to want to use drugs in the first place. The fact that the far right ignore this shows their hypocrisy. After all, the “free” market dictates that if there’s a demand, some sector of the capitalists (legal or not) will find a way to meet that demand.
The Democrats, too, are moving down the
same anti-(dark skinned) immigrant road. Along with enabling a more strategic path for US capitalism, their only concern is to get elected. That’s why they, too, will continue down the anti-immigrant road. After all, the same poll that showed the decline in support for Trump also showed that 54% think that “too little” is being done to keep out undocumented immigrants vs. 24% who think what’s being done already is “just the right amount”. In effect, that amounts to 78% who support Trump’s chauvinist policies (vs. only 16% who think “too much” is being done). As we approach 2020, the Democrats – all of them – will play to that sentiment, thereby helping strengthen it.
The International president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA showed the way when she called for a national general strike. It’s not clear, though, whether this was really intended to spur some action along those lines or whether it was pure rhetoric. In either case, it was a welcome call. Meanwhile, feeling forced to do something, a labor did organize a few protests at some airports, maybe partly stirred by the widespread sick-outs of the air traffic controllers.
Even this, though, shows the danger of half-measures. In the same editorial, the Wall St. Journal editors called their sick outs “an abdication of duty.” This means that if it happens again, possibly stronger measures will be taken to discipline them.
Who even more “abdicated their duties” was the socialist movement, such as it is. Exhibit Number One is the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA). With well over 50,000 members, DSA was completely capable of organizing mass protests throughout the US. (In fact, this was suggested inside DSA but it attracted almost no interest. And those who did respond said things like that they were too busy to organize something like this!) Such protests could have linked the issue of the shutdown and non-payment of over 800,000 federal workers with Trump’s recent veto of a raise for those workers and the need for a real raise ($5.00 per hour) for all workers. All of this should have been linked with the real underlying issue: the fanning of the flames of chauvinism and racism, being done openly by Trump and the Republicans but also by the Democrats, although a little more subtly.
Meanwhile, the tensions continue to mount. A new shutdown in a few weeks is possible (although unlikely). If it’s not that, then another crisis is inevitable. Serious socialists should take it on themselves to get out in the streets and try to mobilize working class people. It’s bound to happen anyway, the more of a role that socialism can play, the more clear will be the movement.
Update: Another thought occurs to us. Is it possible that the hard line taken by Pelosi and Schumer results from the decision previously made by the mainstream of the US capitalist class that they cannot accept Trump for another two years? That apparent decision seems to have been made due to Trump’s decision to withdraw the troops from Syria, as we explained here and here.That would explain Pelosi’s “masterful” role.