Ms. Merkel’s Malady: Migration

Germans like to apologize. During a brief trip to Munich last year, tensions between locals and newly arrived migrants often flared into fizzing commotions of swinging fists, splatting saliva, and the kind of primal chest-beating one cravenly enjoys from the safety of a Barcalounger and in high-definition on a screen, but rarely relishes up close and personal.

These little flare-ups were often followed by an apology from one of the bystanders. With misty eyes, they would insist with pure conviction that such violent incursions were rare. Yet the mea culpas always seemed artificial—almost rehearsed.

That’s not to judge an entire country on the witness of a few days. Anyone having visited Germany will remark on the conviviality of its people. Their dehydrated sense of humor. And their seeming genetic need to apologize for their part in the great staining of Western, and indeed, human history.

That stain is why Angela Merkel has opened the door to more than 1.5 million refugees since 2015. That stain is why Merkel is clinging to what was the sleepiest job in Europe.

Merkel’s Götterdämmerung means her 13-year tenure could end just months after securing, albeit desperately, her fourth term. Such a grandiloquent virtue-signal also led to the Alternative for Deutschland (AfD) gaining 13 percent of the vote before forming the official opposition. In Germany, this kind of thing doesn’t happen.

But she clings on. An uncharacteristic spat with German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer over the power to send back border-bestriding migrants already registered in other European Union states, dissolved into a belligerent simmer. Merkel now has two weeks to regroup.

The skirmish has rumbled the decades-old alliance between Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), led by Seehofer. Without his support, Merkel’s threadbare coalition will fall apart.

More pressing is October’s Bavarian elections, polling of which suggests the CSU could lose its majority, with defectors heading to the immigration hardliners of the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party. The alleged murder of a 14-year-old German girl at the hands of an Iraqi refugee has only turned up the burners.

Across the continent, the immigration issue plays kingmaker. Populists now helm Italy, Austria, Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary. Not to mention the historically toxic Front National winning a third of the French vote, and Geert Wilders making big gains in liberal Holland. And don’t forget Brexit.

Adding to that, immigration, and terrorism, are now the top two concerns of voters in every country in the European Union.

What Border Blowback?
So when President Trump defended his zero-tolerance border stance in a tweet-attack on Angela Merkel this week, it is fair to say he had a point. Despite the relentlessly negative optics, this week’s controversy has no doubt played to the president’s favor.

Think of it. After luxuriating in their confected outrage, Democrats are now sobering up and having to hangover through an immigration debate thrust front and center. Their demands that the president “do something” are somewhat blunted after they refused to pitch in.

Trump gets that. Far from the “Katrina moment” media soothsayers have been predicting since he first rode down that escalator, the president has again played politics with surgical precision, deftly stretching the tensile strain to maximum, drawing Democrats into a fight they cannot win.  

After all, the president repeatedly said that he didn’t want families separated. He also said the United States isn’t a refugee camp—and the majority agrees. Having neutered the issue with an executive order, it’s advantage Trump.  

Democrats would rather keep it all schtum. And with good reason. A recent poll found 72 percent of Americans want legal immigration slashed.

Of course, the vast majority of Americans opposed the now-scotched policy of parent-child separation. The motivation to send one’s children trekking into a sandy searing heat could thaw the coldest heart. But “desperate” would be a charitable adjective.

Thousands of parents deem this journey one of necessity, and more importantly—reward.  President Obama’s 2012 decision to halt deportations of minor-aged illegals doubled (40,000 a year) the number arriving the next year as the incentive beamed above the Rio Grande twilight.   

Under President Trump, numbers taking the risk collapsed until word got around that tough rhetoric didn’t translate into action. But Trump isn’t Obama, so the longstanding reality of southern border chaos found a new film of enmity.   

Open Borders Would Be Catastrophic
If immigration policy is to be effective, it must—at a minimum—deter those who fancy their chances of bypassing America’s glutinous legal immigration system. After all, who doesn’t want to live in the United States of America?   

If the door were declared open, effectively infinite numbers would pass through its jamb. The result,  quite literally, would be devastating. Amidst the flak, Trump kept nailing this point.

Such a notion, however corrosive to cruel reality, animates Democrats and fills them with glee. Why beslime oneself with the rubes of the Rust Belt when new voters streaming across the border can be puttied into party lifers, with their own dependency-cage to boot?   

Images of distraught children in “cages” don’t sit well with anyone. But this ruthless truth is not new. Such chaos festering on the southern U.S. border has been ignored by both Republicans and Democrats since the 1990s. The former are happy to connive with their donors, and the latter happy to intrigue their evaporating base. One counts the votes, the other weighs the greenbacks.   

It would have been no different if Hillary Clinton was president. Yet, those “cages” would be described as “comfort enclosures,” if the media bothered at all.  Alas, Democratic tears would not well so indulgently if those arrivals were ready-made Republicans.

I suspect Senator Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) is privately disappointed this febrile saga was cut short by President Trump. Indeed, Democrats wouldn’t put their hands to a Senate measure to end this latest outrage because the self-indulgent optics is what they really care about.

Much like their March rejection of the president’s offer to triple the number of DACA recipients given amnesty, it turns out that action matters little. Syrupy sentimentality matters more.

Having abandoned the Bills and Betties of Fishtown, Democrats are held hostage by their open-borders radical base. Bedraggled with flawed fantasies of an emerging Democratic majority, they have no choice but to embrace a position crushing the larynx of their European cousins.  

That’s a lesson from which Democrats have learned less than zero. In Europe, the immigration issue decides who wins what. With 58 percent of Americans recently admitting illegal immigration worried them either a “great deal” or a “fair amount,” Democrats have shambled into a minefield.  

Perhaps it is too late for them to turn back. But, if they want to know where they’re headed, they should ask Angela Merkel. She’s driving.

About Christopher Gage

Christopher Gage is a British political journalist.

Photo: BERLIN, GERMANY - FEBRUARY 15: German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks to the media during a press conference following a meeting with turkish prime minister in the German chancellory on February 15, 2018 in Berlin,Germany. According to media reports, Turkey's Prime Minister Binali Yildirim has suggested that the German-Turkish journalist Deniz Yucel's release from jail is imminent. The German newspaper Die Welt reporter, was jailed a year ago on suspicion of supporting a terrorist organization. Yucel denies the accusations.(Photo by Michele Tantussi/Getty Images)

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