Donald Trump is not an ideological man. He ran by appealing to the sentiments that unite most working-class Americans, much like Ronald Reagan did in 1980. Working-class voters from factory employees to plumbers and electricians appreciated the themes Trump campaigned on during the 2016 election. Promising to “make America great again” through cultural renewal, economic revitalization, and military strength, Trump ran as a fixer.
In 21st century America, the greatest threat to our quality of life is not terrorism or Russia. Rather, it is bad government.
A major reason that America’s government has gone bad is that the Democrats and Republicans have stopped talking to each other. They did this because both parties have been captured by special interests with radical agendas. A dynamic of winner-take-all politics has become the norm, and nothing substantive has been accomplished in at least a generation. The government of the United States was not created to operate under such a zero-sum paradigm.
Essentially, America’s pipes were clogged and the country needed a plumber, not a politician.
A Stopped-Up Immigration System
Donald Trump is America’s plumber. And a plumber has no ideological motivation either for repairing or for not repairing a stopped pipe. He simply does his job and goes home. If he doesn’t repair the pipe, sewage gets everywhere, and then we really have a mess. The saddest thing about present-day America is most of our problems could be easily surmounted if our two political parties weren’t so consumed with sniping at each other and appealing to a monied donor class with interests that often don’t comport with the common good.
One of our biggest problems is immigration. Most Americans favor immigration enforcement; they want a border wall, and most are willing to give the beloved “Dreamers” amnesty. There is a basis for a deal here—maybe.
President Trump invited both parties to sit down at a big, beautiful table at the White House, and have a public discussion about immigration reform. Fox News host Charles Payne likened the historic Tuesday meeting at the White House to a business meeting, where all participants came in, focused on a single problem, and offered up their ideas. Unfortunately, Democrats haven’t produced their own version of a plumber yet. So they remain uninterested in sharing ideas on reform; preferring instead to stick to their partisan agenda, pleasing an ideologically driven and extreme base (as well as self-interested donors), but doing no good for their country or the majority of Americans who want a sane immigration reform.
During the public component of the bipartisan White House meeting, Trump said some things that rankled some of his most outspoken supporters, such as myself. Yet, there was merit in what he said—particularly if you view Trump as America’s plumber.
For decades both parties have known that immigration was a problem in need of repair. For years, both parties promised to do something about immigration policy. Neither party, however, was motivated to work toward a solution. They lacked the leadership to overcome the problem. It’s not unlike when one knows their pipes need repairing, but no one wants actually to go through the trouble of calling a plumber, waiting for the guy to show up, and paying the bill. After all, they reason, water is still coming through the faucets; most of the toilets are still flushing . . . maybe things aren’t bad enough yet to call the plumber.
Fixes Will Be Costly
In Congress, the legislative pipes have been clogged with money from special interests and ideological extremism for years. Necessary legislation that could ease the immigration problem has been delayed, clogging the system, and choking America on a ceaseless wave of economic uncertainty and political instability. What Trump is doing is unclogging the pipes, so that he can push the sludge through.
At Tuesday’s meeting, Trump offered Congress what many members have wanted for years: the ability to load up legislation with earmarks. Of course, this would contradict the promise of “draining the swamp,” but it does play to lawmakers’ need to repay special interests. In so doing, it might make Congress more pliable in actually enacting legislation that Trump wants (and the country needs), such as immigration reform.
Further, Trump offered that he’s willing to allow the “Dreamers” to stay, so long as America gets a physical border wall and real immigration enforcement. Like any good plumber, Trump assessed the damage to the pipe and offered the Democrats a solution at a fair price. But, the Democrats thought that solution was far too costly for them politically.
So, naturally, the Democrats have taken to lying and exaggerating about what Trump said behind closed doors to undermine the president’s reasonable case for immigration reform. Besides, everyone knows this isn’t just about immigration. This is about getting government working in a way that no longer benefits only special interests, but that empowers all Americans.
America’s Founders established a government that governs least. But, they certainly didn’t envision a government that didn’t govern at all. And, for years, the government has failed to govern in a way that protected American interests or served the majority of Americans. Trump recognized that trend in 2016 and is repairing the damage, starting with immigration. Rather than accept Trump’s reasonable offer, the Democrats are trying to make it impossible for Trump to govern.
The question remains: will the American people let Democrats distract them, and prevent the pipes from being repaired again—especially when there might not be another plumber available again for quite some time?
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