Shutdown is bad for Republicans, an opportunity for Democrats

By the end of the day Friday, we learned that President TrumpDonald John TrumpGraham: America must 'accept the pain that comes in standing up to China' Weld 'thrilled' more Republicans are challenging Trump New data challenges Trump's economic narrative MORE was more willing to enter what he described as a “very long shutdown” than to accept a bipartisan deal forged in the Senate to keep the government running.

With the fast-approaching end to unified control of the federal government by Republicans, this most recent dispute over government funding could be a disaster for congressional Republicans and President Trump heading in to the 2020 election campaigns.

Indeed, congressional leaders had found common ground on a proposal that would increase funding for more technologically-based tools to address border security. Yet, resistance from factions inside the Republican Party and last-minute opposition to the plan by the president proved to be more powerful.


As this is now the third government shutdown of the year, many people — even some congressional Republicans — are getting increasingly more frustrated. Republican Sen. Bill CassidyWilliam (Bill) Morgan CassidyA cash advance to consider Bottom Line I'm not a Nazi, I'm just a dude: What it's like to be the other Steve King MORE of Louisiana said, “Usually, out of the president, it’s better to have a steady course. You want to be able to draw a bead on where your leader is going to be in a week or two, or three. This has not been a steady course. We need a steady course.”

This potential situation of a “very long shutdown,” into which we have now been thrust, begs the question: What does this mean for the future of the Republican Party heading into 2019 and, perhaps more important, toward 2020?

The need for compromise has become even more important.

With Democrats regaining control of the House of Representatives in January, bipartisan legislation will be necessary if either party wants to enact substantial change. With many Democrats running on platforms that centered around health care, and many Republicans running on platforms that centered around border security, there will need to be substantial concessions if there is any desire to pass legislation. 

This can play out one of two ways.

The first is where President Trump becomes the master deal-maker he claims to be. He would have to broker deals with increasingly polarized parties to accomplish meaningful change on immigration, border security or health care.

However, the way the past two years have played out, I am increasingly less hopeful of this situation.

The second is where congressional Democrats come to the table, ready to make a deal, yet are met with resistance by the president and congressional Republicans — something that appears to be more likely. Senate Minority Leader Chuck SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerJewish Democratic congresswoman and veteran blasts Trump's 'disloyalty' comments Schumer says Trump encouraging anti-Semites Saagar Enjeti: Biden's latest blunder; Krystal Ball: Did Schumer blow our chance to beat McConnell? MORE (D-N.Y.) and presumptive Speaker of the House Nancy PelosiNancy Pelosi11 Essential reads you missed this week Pelosi asks Democrats for 'leverage' on impeachment Is there internet life after thirty? MORE (D-Calif.) have indicated that they would be willing to find bipartisan solutions to some of the nation’s biggest problems.

And this is where we look to see how this shutdown is going to play with the voters. Americans want pragmatic leadership that will get the job done, not leadership that shuts down the government at one of the busiest travel times of the year, one that is supposed to be filled with joy and excitement for the new year.

While House Democrats did not ask for this shutdown and, in my opinion, worked in a bipartisan fashion to find a solution, this current situation plays out best for them.

When Congress reconvenes in January, Democrats are in charge in the House. They will be the ones setting the agenda, and the much-larger leverage that the president had with an impending shutdown will have lessened greatly in a shutdown that is already in progress.

Americans overwhelmingly elected Democrats to Congress in November’s midterm elections under the hope of getting things done and as a check-and-balance being put on the president. It will be up to the Democrats to seize this opportunity in January, to find an amicable way out of this shutdown.

If Democrats are able to successfully negotiate a deal that provides support for border security while not giving up too much, the chances of a Democrat taking back the White House in 2020 will continue to increase.

Douglas E. Schoen (@DouglasESchoen) served as a pollster for President Clinton. A longtime political consultant, he is also a Fox News contributor and the author of 11 books, including “Putin’s Master Plan: To Destroy Europe, Divide NATO, and Restore Russian Power and Global Influence