Congress: Should Democrats work with Trump?
“Will the donkey lie down with the elephant?” said Daniel Henninger in WSJ.com. Democrats distraught over their crushing defeat to Donald Trump are now fighting among themselves— “trying to figure out what hit them and what to do about it.” Despite labeling Trump as a racist, misogynist, and bullying tyrant, many Democrats—including new Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer—are saying they’ll collaborate with their sworn enemy if it means getting something they want, including major infrastructure spending and paid maternity leave. Mock all you want, but it’s a clever strategy, said Scott Salmon in Qz.com. If they team up with Trump on progressive policies opposed by small-government conservatives within his own party, Democrats will not only help their constituents—they might “drive a wedge between Trump and the GOP.”
“Were this a normal election,” said Eric Sasson in NewRepublic.com, “this might be a defensible strategy.” But proposing to work with a racist authoritarian who promised to deport millions of people and ban Muslim immigrants is “a dangerous folly.” Indeed, “any mention of finding common ground with Trump is a step toward accomplishing the exact thing we fear most: normalization.” It’s also bad politics, said Jonathan Chait in New York magazine. Republicans spent the past decade obstructing President Obama at every turn—and it’s paid great dividends. They’ve figured out that “if the president is seen as succeeding, voters will reward his party.” But if his administration is mired in partisan rancor and accomplishes little, they blame him—whether he deserves it or not. Democrats should adopt the GOP playbook, become the “loyal opposition,” and obstruct Trump whenever they can as he seeks to erode our nation’s democratic norms.
Unfortunately, “I don’t think total obstruction à la the Republicans will work for the Democrats,” said Michael Tomasky in TheDailyBeast.com. It made ideological sense for small-government Republicans to block Obama’s bid to spend $447 bil lion on infrastructure. But if the Democrats did so, it would look nakedly partisan. “What, these are the people who like to spend money, and now suddenly they don’t want to spend money just because it’s Trump?” Total obstruction could backfire in the 2018 midterm elections, when Democrats have to defend 10 Senate seats in states Trump carried. Democrats will have to “play ball with Trump”— at least sometimes.