Does Trump Have What It Takes to Win on Immigration?

President Trump has faced down the Chinese, the Russians, ISIS, and North Korea, but does he have what it takes to force Congress to fix immigration?  I am beginning to think the answer is no.  Congressional leadership has secured the votes, and worked the rules, to pass the president's agenda only when the members agree with his policies, such as choosing conservative justices or lowering taxes.  On issues such as Obamacare and immigration, where the GOP establishment disagrees with Trump, he has failed. 

On Obamacare, Trump gave up in disgust after killing the individual mandate.  He can't do that on immigration.  Fixing immigration was a big promise.  He has got to deliver.

The art of negotiation requires both carrots and sticks.  Trump has shown little to offer or threaten that the impervious incumbents of the GOP want or fear.  He has endorsed their candidates and campaigned for them and been rewarded with no loyalty.  The rewards of their lobbyists and payoffs of crony corruption have made our politicians, especially leadership, independent of voters and of the president.

President Trump has Republican voters behind him on every detail of his immigration policy.  Voters want a wall.  They want more border patrol.  They want an end to catch and release and an end to visa overstays.  Voters also agree with Trump that we need to cut down legal migration.  They want Muslim immigration heavily vetted and curtailed.  They want an end to chain migration. 

But as every conservative knows to our sorrow, Republican career politicians don't care about the wishes of ordinary voters.

To achieve Trump's immigration goals, he must force Congress to pass legislation and appropriate funds.  Republican leaders are unable and unwilling to garner the votes.  They've shown no inclination to fulfill their promises to secure our borders, adopting the Democrat priority of DACA amnesty instead.  Neil Munro at Breitbart described earlier this year how Senate majority leader McConnell used Senate rules to sabotage Trump's immigration bill and help "an alliance of Democrats and roughly 15 business-first Republican Senators" who tried to "push an amnesty through the Senate."

The GOP is chock-full of politicians who personally favor amnesty and high legal immigration and who fear the mainstream media more than Trump and his voters.  They want to curry favor with Hispanic voters in their districts by continuing chain migration.  They rely on rich donors who hire non-Americans.  Like other elitists, they feel virtuous by being kind to illegals.  They seem to enjoy demonstrating their power to ignore voters.  The good of the country is of the least importance to them. 

Trump knows he needs new tactics.  He has started to threaten a government shutdown if that's what it takes to get border funding.  This is supposedly to pressure Democrats, but it is equally a shot across the bow of the GOP.  At the moment, these threats are classic Trump intimidation, not an action plan.

During a congratulatory call to Rush Limbaugh, President Trump admitted that he had conceded to Ryan and McConnell and agreed to no "fund the wall" shutdown before the midterms.  Trump said he personally thinks a showdown on immigration during the September budget vote is worth the political risk, as after the midterms they may not get as favorable a bill.  (This suggests the question: what is less favorable than zero?  Because all we have is zero.) 

Does Trump need political savvy and tools outside his usual skill set to outmaneuver these lifelong politicians on their home turf, the halls of Congress?  Once the Kavanaugh confirmation is behind us, will Trump be freer to go after McConnell?  Will Trump, the consummate deal-maker, roll up his sleeves and get the immigration deal through Congress, garnering the votes he needs one by one?  Or will Trump's paradigm-busting approach find an unforeseen way through the Congressional roadblock?

It is obvious that Trump is aware of the challenge and committed to continue his record of promise-keeping.  From recent rhetoric, it sounds as though Trump is moving immigration up to a top priority.  His popularity among voters is growing, which strengthens his hand.

Can Trump win against Congress?  So far, the answer is no.

Photo credit: Tomascastelazo via Wikimedia Commons.

President Trump has faced down the Chinese, the Russians, ISIS, and North Korea, but does he have what it takes to force Congress to fix immigration?  I am beginning to think the answer is no.  Congressional leadership has secured the votes, and worked the rules, to pass the president's agenda only when the members agree with his policies, such as choosing conservative justices or lowering taxes.  On issues such as Obamacare and immigration, where the GOP establishment disagrees with Trump, he has failed. 

On Obamacare, Trump gave up in disgust after killing the individual mandate.  He can't do that on immigration.  Fixing immigration was a big promise.  He has got to deliver.

The art of negotiation requires both carrots and sticks.  Trump has shown little to offer or threaten that the impervious incumbents of the GOP want or fear.  He has endorsed their candidates and campaigned for them and been rewarded with no loyalty.  The rewards of their lobbyists and payoffs of crony corruption have made our politicians, especially leadership, independent of voters and of the president.

President Trump has Republican voters behind him on every detail of his immigration policy.  Voters want a wall.  They want more border patrol.  They want an end to catch and release and an end to visa overstays.  Voters also agree with Trump that we need to cut down legal migration.  They want Muslim immigration heavily vetted and curtailed.  They want an end to chain migration. 

But as every conservative knows to our sorrow, Republican career politicians don't care about the wishes of ordinary voters.

To achieve Trump's immigration goals, he must force Congress to pass legislation and appropriate funds.  Republican leaders are unable and unwilling to garner the votes.  They've shown no inclination to fulfill their promises to secure our borders, adopting the Democrat priority of DACA amnesty instead.  Neil Munro at Breitbart described earlier this year how Senate majority leader McConnell used Senate rules to sabotage Trump's immigration bill and help "an alliance of Democrats and roughly 15 business-first Republican Senators" who tried to "push an amnesty through the Senate."

The GOP is chock-full of politicians who personally favor amnesty and high legal immigration and who fear the mainstream media more than Trump and his voters.  They want to curry favor with Hispanic voters in their districts by continuing chain migration.  They rely on rich donors who hire non-Americans.  Like other elitists, they feel virtuous by being kind to illegals.  They seem to enjoy demonstrating their power to ignore voters.  The good of the country is of the least importance to them. 

Trump knows he needs new tactics.  He has started to threaten a government shutdown if that's what it takes to get border funding.  This is supposedly to pressure Democrats, but it is equally a shot across the bow of the GOP.  At the moment, these threats are classic Trump intimidation, not an action plan.

During a congratulatory call to Rush Limbaugh, President Trump admitted that he had conceded to Ryan and McConnell and agreed to no "fund the wall" shutdown before the midterms.  Trump said he personally thinks a showdown on immigration during the September budget vote is worth the political risk, as after the midterms they may not get as favorable a bill.  (This suggests the question: what is less favorable than zero?  Because all we have is zero.) 

Does Trump need political savvy and tools outside his usual skill set to outmaneuver these lifelong politicians on their home turf, the halls of Congress?  Once the Kavanaugh confirmation is behind us, will Trump be freer to go after McConnell?  Will Trump, the consummate deal-maker, roll up his sleeves and get the immigration deal through Congress, garnering the votes he needs one by one?  Or will Trump's paradigm-busting approach find an unforeseen way through the Congressional roadblock?

It is obvious that Trump is aware of the challenge and committed to continue his record of promise-keeping.  From recent rhetoric, it sounds as though Trump is moving immigration up to a top priority.  His popularity among voters is growing, which strengthens his hand.

Can Trump win against Congress?  So far, the answer is no.

Photo credit: Tomascastelazo via Wikimedia Commons.