A Way Out for Democrats: The President Offers a Deal

President Trump is offering Democrats a lifeline with his recent efforts to work with their leadership on budget negotiations and the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program for illegal aliens. With Republicans showing themselves unwilling to bring their party more in line with the priorities of Trump voters, the president now appears willing to offer the opportunity to Democrats. Will they be willing or able to take it?

The events of the last two weeks are not the first time we have seen an indication from Trump that he is willing to deal without respect to old ideological divisions. His much maligned inaugural address was another such offering to Democrats. Given their response to that speech, it remains highly doubtful that they would now take him up.

At the time of President Trump’s inauguration, I argued that his address was a wonderfully prosaic statement, completely devoid of false poetry and forced alliteration. It was spoken in direct language on two levels. As aspiration, the speech addressed the task of re-stating American identity. On the practical, policy level, however, it did something truly astonishing: it laid out an agenda that in itself would be entirely satisfactory to the Democratic Party and even a substantial portion of the neo-progressive Left. This is where the lifeline was fastened.

The speech offered only a few clear policy implications, but such as they were they all amounted to a proposal to make a deal that is designed to entice Democratic support. He said:

Mothers and children trapped in poverty in our inner cities, rusted-out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape of our nation; an education system flush with cash but which leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of all knowledge; and the crime and the gangs and the drugs that have stolen too many lives and robbed our country of so much unrealized potential.

Every decision on trade, on taxes, on immigration, on foreign affairs will be made to benefit American workers and American families. We must protect our borders from the ravages of other countries making our products, stealing our companies and destroying our jobs. Protection will lead to great prosperity and strength.

We will build new roads, and highways, and bridges, and airports, and tunnels, and railways all across our wonderful nation. We will get our people off of welfare and back to work rebuilding our country with American hands and American labor. 

To put the matter briefly, President Trump proposed a robust, comprehensive infrastructure rebuilding project, dedicated educational renewal, conscious urban reconstruction, border security, and broad job-creating initiatives. He also implied a substantial military augmentation, but that can well be subsumed in the overall scope of the social policy program he outlined.

What is extraordinary about this is the fact that the social-policy program could be readily embraced by the Democratic Party consistent with its heritage and mission. But there is a hitch; the president proposes to make a deal. All the Democratic Party would have to do in exchange is to accept some modest tax and trade proposals and give up its identity politics. The master of the “art of the deal” has shaped a scenario in which the Democrats in Congress could throw the Republicans completely on their heels by embracing the Trump agenda and paving the way to re-brand Trumpism as old-fashioned Democratic policy.

But the cost! The cost! No more identity politics! That is what it would mean to resume the authority to represent the great American middle. President Trump crafted his inaugural address as if he was very consciously aware of this and thus for its very sake. That is the meaning of his assertion, “When you open your heart to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice.” To the progressive Left, it has been the case for some time that patriotism is simply a screen for racism. They would have to abandon that posture to strike a deal with the president. Would the Democrats strike a bargain that could pave the road to their return to dominance? Or will they cling to the cul-de-sac approach that has for the moment grounded them? That is the question of the hour.  

I will be bold enough to predict, however, that Democrats will not be able to make the deal, for they have maneuvered themselves into a position from which there is simply no escape. They cannot abandon constituency politics even for the sake of benefiting their constituents!

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About William B. Allen

W. B. Allen is Emeritus Professor of Political Philosophy at Michigan State University and a pastor at First Baptist Church in Havre de Grace, Maryland.

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31 responses to “A Way Out for Democrats: The President Offers a Deal

  • Pastor Allen’s comments are the first words of encouragement that I have read since going online this morning.

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  • I agree that the chance that the Democrats will abandon their tactics of divisiveness are likely non-existent. Between the powerful forces of Soros’ funding and Bernie’s followers’ scorched earth approach to settling differences, there is no room for their legislators to breathe.

  • This is a good piece of thinking outside the box writing, AND encouraging because it suggests there might be a way to end the current cold civil war. My gut says it won’t work — that Democrats won’t be able to move beyond the politics of group identity — because they’ve done this for so long that they have nobody who knows how to do anything else.

    It’s the old question: Where do they get their money? There’s a whole farm system — George Soros, the SPLC, usually the ACLU, most Democratic politicians running pay-to-play schemes (and the folks who pay) — that is utterly dependent on “You got terrible trouble right here in River City” and unless you elect Democrats to protect you from (name of threat) you’re going to be chained up and sent back to (the plantation, Mexico, prison …)

    The PARTY couldn’t command a switch in the metaphor: They couldn’t just say “We’re going back to winning elections, PERIOD, and we’re going to do it not by proclaiming threats for which we’re the only answer but rather by addressing the American worker and voter WHERE HE LIVES and setting out a program that will make him and his family more prosperous and happier.” They simply can’t do it because their entire organization and infrastructure is aimed in another direction. What good is blackmail or lawfare, what’s the point of having tens of thousands of rioters on tap and ready to smash heads if you’re actually going to try to make middle class lives better?

    Then there’s the awkwardness of telling BLM that the police are their friends and should be fully supported because jobs show up when local shops and residents aren’t afraid of violence. And gee … illegal aliens should go home because they take jobs needed by poor Americans, and bum teachers need to be fired and kids offered vouchers for better (private) schools, and white people and black people need to be partners …

    Telling SPLC “We don’t need you anymore because, actually, there’s hardly any southern poverty anymore and what there is cannot be fixed in courtrooms … Yeah … it’s an amusing picture, but likely? Mmmm …

    How many of today’s Democratic leadership could even conceive of such a strategic shift? I THINK Dianne Feinstein might be up to the thinking but she’s not even close to having the power to make it happen. George Soros probably has the power if he and Obama decided to do it as a joint project and when you get done laughing at THAT picture — would that be a Chivas Summit? — I expect you’ll agree about the prospect of that particular snowball.

    Soros illustrates another problem with the idea: Looks to me like he’s doing a big short on the U.S. economy, hoping to totally collapse us and make literally trillions. How likely is it that he’s open to rethinking that whole strategy, switching to a long position …?

    I’d like to be wrong but I think we’re just going to have to wait for whatever’s first to go down and then rebuild from there as best we can.

    • Maybe it’s not either-or. Maybe it’s you-can-keep-your-identity-politics-as-long-as-you-vote-my-way-in -Congress. Sure it would be illogical for the Democrats to go along with Trump, given their demonizing of the President. But then again politics makes for strange bed-fellows.

  • before anything of substance can change, one of the parties has to die — and be seen as dead. the dems are the zombie party; optimized for the non-living already. so that means it’s the gop that has to be replaced, root and branch.

    • Neither party is finished; neither is flourishing. We’re between a world half-dead and another powerless to be born.

      • we’ll see in the midterms next year, but it very much looks and feels like the gope has caused a fatal rupture with its base (who now belong to Trump).

  • You are absolutely correct. The Democrats have painted themselves into a corner, and it is so bad that they live in abject fear every day that if they abandon identity politics, they will be accused of being racists. This is a trap of their own making, and they richly deserve it. I firmly believe it will lead to yet another Republican victory in 2018, and the re-election of Mr. Trump in 2020.

  • The author has it wrong. Trump threw Republicans and himself a lifeline when he signaled he would work with Democrats. Only in a bizzaro world does the opposition party receive the fallout from executive decisions.

    • Yes, by tossing out a DACA solution to the Dems, they have skin in the game. Is it worth it to the dems to fold on the wall, increased ICE enforcement and no path to citizenship, or are the Dreamers not worth it to the Dems?

      • I can’t remember where I read it but I thought I read that the wall wasn’t a deal breaker with Trump.

      • I think that’s what Pelosi or Schumer (or both) claimed. I don’t believe them for a minute.
        President Trump has come out since and reiterated his full support for the wall and declared it’s still a deal breaker, as it should be.

  • Trump I think is pretty shrewd here. It’s a signal to the Republicans that they had better work with him. He also undercuts the supposed ‘Resistance’ by getting the Democrats to work with him. Nancy Pelosi was mobbed this weekend by Dreamers angry she dared to work with Trump….on their own behalf.

    And to the moderate voters that swing every election….they’ve just seen more bi-partisanship than they have in perhaps decades.

      • Let the deal be done before you judge. Wall for DACA is fair dinkum. Lets see what happens. 3 1/3 years left and 2018 midterms look real good. We were one John McCain thumbs-down short on healthcare. TPP and Paris accord = dead. GDP up. Regulations going bye-bye. Nafta being renegotiated as we speak. At least one Supreme Court justice if not 3. Tax reform is up next. Nothing is over freind. Just getting started.

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      • The crash will come before 2019, its guaranteed. Paris isnt dead either. Im going to see a lot of you people dead before my death. You are not going to successfully destroy this country and that is what Trump is doing but you are too ignorant to see it. Maybe President Trump can open your eyes, here is a quote from him in 1998

        “If I were to run, Id’e run as a republican. They’re the dumbest group of voters in the country. They love anything on Fox News. I could lie and they would still eat it up. I bet my numbers would be terrific.” DJT in 1998 as told to People Magazine.

      • What are you blathering about? The crash will come? There are major market corrections on average every 7 or 8 years regardless of what political party is in power. Stocks are overvalued and we are overdue for a correction. So what? If you are worried sell stocks and go to cash. Amazingly the economy keeps going up because we finally managed to get Obama off it’s back. Keeping the GDP at 2% for 8 years despite unprecedented stimulative action by the fed and near zero interest rates was an historic accomplishment. We still have those things AND a pro-growth, pro- America, anti- regulation president who is pushing major tax reform. Businesses are so optimistic now, who knows when the inevitable market correction may come? In any case, America will not be destroyed by anything Trump has done or will do. Republicans don’t have any effect on the weather despite what you lunatic climate change freaks may believe. We wont be destroyed by better trade deals or tax reform either. I am sorry you have gotten yourself all worked up into a tizzy. Maybe its time to unplug the computer for a while and go for a nice walk. Your real problem is that you “know” so many things that aren’t even true. No wonder you are an emotional wreck. Oh and BTW you Trump quote is totally made up. A perfect example of how you can be easily manipulated into believing things. Most of your problems are just made up.

        https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.cnn.com/cnn/2016/11/10/politics/trump-quote-facebook-trnd/index.html

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  • Democrats have a big decision to make; either they side with the president and hardworking Americans or continue to cater to their rich 1% Washington DC donor base – we will soon find out what they settle on.

    • ? Where have you been for the past eight years?

      That decision was made 8 years ago. That boat has long-ago sailed.

    • Dont forget the coalition of the useless. Those who either work for the government or live off of it.

  • Since 92% of Americans believe that DACA recipients should have a path to citizenship, this article is ridiculous and nonsensical.

    • 100% of Americans believe that DACA recipients have an existing path to citizenship that will not benefit liberals as much as they want. All you have to do is apply legally from your home country, that is the path, the only path. What liberals want to do is negotiate with terrorists who have occupied the daycare and killed all the teachers.

  • Deaf republicans…

    Popular culture defines societal norms, not political parties.

    Will the GOP never learn?

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