So, after all the brouhaha about the latest “government shutdown” we get…nothing. Trump agrees to reopen the government without getting his key point, funding for his border wall.
I am of mixed feelings on the wall itself. First, the “walls don’t work” argument opponents make is nonsense. That argument is basically saying that every fortification ever built in history, every wall around every gated community, every dike and levee, all of them have all been worthless. Sure, none of them have been 100% impenetrable, but that’s a far cry from being “worthless.” What such walls are is force multipliers. The people you have behind the wall, defending it, are able to more effectively guard against intrusions making them as effective as a far larger force would be without the wall.
On the other hand, one might argue that the resources spent on building a physical barrier, a wall, could be more effectively spent in other ways (that old “allocation of scarce resources that have alternative uses” that economists talk so much about). Perhaps, but the folk arguing against the wall generally aren’t arguing for the alternate methods. Oh, a few might pay lip service to it, but where are the actual proposals? I can think of a few. I can’t say whether they would be better use of the resources than a barrier at the border but one might consider the possibility–if anyone were actually proposing such alternatives.
But that’s neither here nor there. The wall was the star to which Trump hitched his wagon. It was not just a plank but a major supporting structural member in Trump’s “platform” during his campaign. And he just gave it up. Oh, they’re supposed to “discuss it” later, once government has reopened, but, well, we’ve heard that before. “I’ll give you this concession later for that concession today.” Has that ever worked out? Have they ever actually come through on the “this concession later”? Help me out here. Has that ever worked out?
And these shutdowns? Really? Seems the Republicans get the worst of all worlds. They want something the Democrats won’t give, or the Democrats want something the Republicans don’t want to give. This leads to an impasse. The Republican’s “stand on principle” leading to a shutdown. Then, eventually, to end the shutdown they give in and either take out what the Democrats don’t want or give them what they do want. If they were going to do that in the end, why bother with the shutdown? Give up in the beginning and save everyone the trouble.
Of, course, we know why they do it. They do it to create the illusion that they are fighting when the truth is that they simply do not have the courage to carry through. But they can go to their voters and say “we tried” and their voters will eat it up.
“But Trump is different” we were told. “He’s not part of the establishment.” Well, he just proved he’s not different. He folded, and not even for a promise of concessions later but for promises of talk. “Discussion.”
The Democrats have no reason to negotiate in any meaningful way. They have no reason to give concessions. They know that if they stick to their guns the Republicans will fold.
After all, they always have.