Flat White

What if Trump doesn’t blink?

21 January 2019

6:31 PM

21 January 2019

6:31 PM

While Donald Trump is offering the possibility of a deal, both sides remain largely entrenched in their original positions as the now record long United States federal government shutdown continues, with no real progress to show for the four long weeks it has dragged on for.

Democrats remain convinced that President Trump will eventually blink, because that’s how Capitol Hill politicians and Presidents have traditionally conducted themselves during shutdowns in the past.

Except President Trump may not end up blinking at all. He will likely continue his complete disregard for the Beltway’s traditional rulebook of how politics is conducted in Washington, leaving Democrats increasingly confused at how to approach the issue.

The current government shutdown over funding for the President’s proposed border wall is a perfect example of the Democratic Party employing time honoured and battle-tested political tactics. They are playing the classic waiting game, with one eye on the polls, hoping to see the President’s support on the issue dwindle as the shutdown drags on.

Democrats are sitting next to their cell phones waiting for what they hope will be President Trump’s eventual admission of defeat. However, in reality, there is every chance that the President will not admit defeat, that he will stubbornly continue the shutdown until the situation becomes so untenable, that Democrats will be ones who are forced to throw in the towel.

During government shutdowns in the past, the media played a key role in exerting pressure on the President and the other belligerent parties, ensuring that a daily dose of exactly how the government shutdown was affecting everyday Americans reached their viewership.

Except in the modern world of “Donald Trump’s America” there is very little upside in the media for the President to end the shutdown. After all, it’s not like the negative media coverage of his Presidency is going to pause if he chooses to end the shutdown.

Democrats have checked President Trump with a textbook piece of political manoeuvring and that’s exactly why it may not end up working, simply because Trump is not a politician, he is cut throat businessman intent on winning every engagement.

The current political situation in the United States, coupled with the ongoing negotiations with China over the trade war, has created an atmosphere in which the President is unlikely to back down on either issue, without sufficient concessions to call a strategic withdrawal a win.

With a flagging stock market and forecasters predicting a slowdown in growth in the coming year, President Trump will likely continue to defend his signature policy of the border wall, which his base arguably considers the key policy of Trump’s entire platform.

Unless Democrats can change their tactics to suit the political reality of a non-politician President, it’s likely that the current government shutdown will continue to drag on for some time to come.

A deal will eventually be struck, but ultimately it may be up to Democrats to come to the negotiating table as it’s unlikely that President Trump will be the one to put ending the government shutdown above his quest for a border wall.

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