Trump Is In Dangerous Political Territory As Negotiations With Democrats Loom
The longest government shutdown is over after 35 days but the problems that created it have not gone away. President Donald Trump may have climbed down for now but his demands for a wall across the southern border are still central to his presidency.
This is a dangerous political moment for Trump. Having whipped up his base on the issue of a border wall, Trump was strongly criticized by some conservatives for re-opening the government. Commentator Ann Coulter even called the President a ‘wimp’. Attacks like this have changed Trump’s behavior in the past.
Trump is already threatening another shutdown if he doesn’t get a fair deal from Congressional Democrats. But there’s more risk to Trump than Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. Trump is taking a real chance of losing his hardcore supporters if he doesn’t deliver on the wall.
Trump’s approval rating is hovering in the mid to high 30s, with many pollsters believing this is composed of his most loyal supporters. Outside of this group, Trump enjoys very little support for his policies in general, while the wall remains unpopular with a majority of Americans.
The President’s approach has always been to appease his base and avoid compromises with his political opponents. However, this policy led to an unnecessary and historic government shutdown, leaving 800,000 federal employees with no paychecks for 35 days. Neither Republicans nor Democrats in Congress wanted that outcome.
The temporary spending measures now in place will only keep the government open for three weeks, during which time the Trump administration will attempt to win concessions from Pelosi’s Democrats. However, Pelosi has repeatedly said she will not fund Trump’s wall. Pelosi is widely regarded as having won the shutdown fight, so it’s unlikely she’ll change course now.
This could be the most dangerous moment of Trump’s presidency. Many voters in his base are agitated, some formerly friendly media personalities are rounding on him and there is no obvious solution to the impasse. If Trump surrenders on the wall, it could spell the end of his political support. And all these problems are completely separate from the ongoing investigations into his campaign’s potential ties to Russia.