Democrats, led by Senator Chuck Schumer, are already blowing it.
At the risk of seeming to violate Godwin’s law, Trump isn’t the first authoritarian to propose massive infrastructure activity as the proverbial sugar to make his autocratic, bigoted medicine go down.
“At least he built the Autobahn,” Germans used to declare.
Call it the “it’s not all bad” playbook of authoritarians. The reason why it works is quite simple. If they can normalize part of themselves by giving people something they like, then everything about them becomes normalized.
In these times, Democrats must resist the temptation to normalize any part of Donald Trump. Of course, that’s not all they need to do, but it is a damned good place to start.
I am not under any illusions – the temptation is huge. If Donald Trump doesn’t propose an infrastructure scam, but a plan that mirrors what Democrats have long advocated for, it will be like one of those cartoons where a character is lifted off his feet by the smell of food cooking, and floats towards it.
But, the moment they give him any seal of approval, on anything, is the moment when most of the country says, “Well, guess he isn’t that bad, after all.”
Democrats must also realize that Trump will need some of their votes to pass any big spending plans.
While Republicans control Congress, they have a relatively slim majority. Any big spending plan is almost certain to lose Republican fiscal conservative votes – likely enough of them to make some Democratic votes necessary to pass a plan.
So, rather than let out little excited squeals at the thought of new bridges, like Senator Schumer has done, Democrats need to stay silent. They need to refuse to help Trump develop his infrastructure plan. They need to keep their fingerprints off it.
Because when he finally unveils it, and needs Democratic votes to pass it, Democrats can say it isn’t their plan, but if he wants their help now, he must accept their list of demands. These demands may include items like:
- Firing Steve Bannon
- Firing Michael Flynn
- Banning the use of Federal dollars to register people based on religion, race, or heritage.
- Raising the minimum wage to $15
Make it clear – that until and unless Donald Trump gives up the racists in his administration, gives up bigoted, authoritarian proposals, and gives into Democratic demands for some economic justice, he will not get their votes on infrastructure or anything else.
The likely result is that the infrastructure plan fails. Democrats can point to Trump and say he couldn’t even pass a plan with total control of government, and was unwilling to fire an anti-Semite and give a $15 minimum wage to save the plan. They can say they had nothing to do with the proposal, that they offered Trump help, and that Trump rejected it, so this is all on him.
And, if by some small miracle Donald Trump caves and abandons the racist, authoritarian people and programs around him, then we all win, and Democrats can claim credit for pressuring Donald Trump to do so.
In other words, they can look strong and principled.
Unfortunately, right now, they don’t look that way at all. They look like they always do – a party willing to get on board with something that hasn’t even been offered yet. They look like a group that is so desperate to look like a team players that they say that things “sound good!” before even being offered any kind of negotiation.
Senator Schumer and Democrats must get in the right mindset. Call him a Turtle-looking son of a bitch all you want, but Mitch McConnell did that when Republicans were the opposition, and it worked. President Obama fell all over himself to offer Republicans deals on things they loved, like deficit reduction, entitlement reform, and more, and they didn’t budge.
Now, Schumer and the Democrats are the opposition, and the only remaining barrier to Trump. If they do not realize that, and act that way, it will be incumbent on the Resistance to force them out, and find new Congressional leaders.
Read more about how to do that, here: https://www.indivisibleguide.com/