Democrats are facing political consequences over shutdown

The longest government shutdown in United States history is now taking a toll on the president and his party. According to a national poll, Americans blame Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden says his faith is 'bedrock foundation of my life' after Trump claim Coronavirus talks on life support as parties dig in, pass blame Ohio governor tests negative in second coronavirus test MORE and the Republicans for the shutdown by a clear margin of five to three. Moreover, another poll found that 56 percent of Americans put the onus of the shutdown on Trump and the Republicans, with the disapproval rating of the president climbing to 57 percent. Still, the Democrats would do well to refrain from smirking. Let me explain.

The first poll shows that support for the border wall is growing among Republicans, conservatives, and hardcore Trump supporters. In other words, the border wall has become another flash point in our ongoing political civil war. Although the Democrats are out of power, at some point they will need to demonstrate a capacity to get things done, especially with the 2020 election fast approaching and the era of big government returning to Washington. As the Republicans explode the deficit, and the Democrats promise Medicare for All, small government is looking passé.

ADVERTISEMENT

Sure, Trump said that he would bear the “mantle” of the shutdown, but it is clear that he does not stick to his word for very long, and that his base is forgiving of his flip flops and his tenuous relationship with truth and reality. Mexico was going to pay for the wall, but now it will not. Trump was fine with making Dreamers part of a compromise, then he was not, and now he may be. On a certain level, who cares? All the narratives win applause from his supporters because it is Trump doing the talking.

Although Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellCoronavirus talks on life support as parties dig in, pass blame Jobs report poised to light fire under COVID-19 talks Overnight Health Care: Ohio governor tests positive for COVID-19 ahead of Trump's visit | US shows signs of coronavirus peak, but difficult days lie ahead | Trump: COVID-19 vaccine may be ready 'right around' Election Day MORE may be stewing over the White House hanging the Senate Republicans out to dry, he is not walking away from the president. Indeed, McConnell cannot afford to. His own numbers are even worse that those of Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiCoronavirus talks on life support as parties dig in, pass blame On The Money: Pessimism grows as coronavirus talks go down to the wire | Jobs report poised to light fire under COVID-19 talks | Tax preparers warn unemployment recipients could owe IRS Top Democrats say postmaster confirmed changes to mail service amid delays MORE and Minority Leader Chuck SchumerChuck SchumerCoronavirus talks on life support as parties dig in, pass blame Senate Democrats push to include free phone calls for incarcerated people in next relief package Trump backs plan to give airlines another billion in aid MORE, and he is up for reelection next year. Rather, his fate is bound to that of Trump, who is loved by his voters, not just by his donors.

To her credit, Pelosi has masterfully held the diverse House Democrats together. On the votes to reopen the government, it is the folks on the other side of aisle who are doing the defecting, not the Democrats. Over in the Senate, Republicans like Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsThe Hill's Campaign Report: Trump's visit to battleground Ohio overshadowed by coronavirus New polls show tight races for Graham, McConnell McConnell goes hands-off on coronavirus relief bill MORE and Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiOn The Money: Pessimism grows as coronavirus talks go down to the wire | Jobs report poised to light fire under COVID-19 talks | Tax preparers warn unemployment recipients could owe IRS Pessimism grows as coronavirus talks go down to the wire Hillicon Valley: Facebook removes Trump post | TikTok gets competitor | Lawmakers raise grid safety concerns MORE are complaining about the shutdown. Meanwhile, Trump relentlessly tweets about the news. Yet, even as the House Democrats vote in lockstep for now, traces of dissonance are creeping in. Not all House Democrats agree with Pelosi that the wall is “immoral” and unnecessary for border security.

Anthony Brindisi, a freshman representative from upstate New York, said that “compromise is the best way forward” and “lives are at stake” as the shutdown drags on. Max RoseMax RoseProgressive Caucus co-chair: Reported oversight change in intelligence office 'seems a bit...fascist' Alarm grows over Americans stranded in Yemen amid pandemic Moderate House Democrats introduce bill aimed at stopping China from exploiting coronavirus pandemic MORE, a freshman representative from Staten Island, a veteran of the war in Afghanistan, and one of the Democrats to vote against Speaker Pelosi, said that “shutting down the government is a national disgrace” that “should never be used as a negotiating tactic.”

More broadly, the Democrats will need to articulate a coherent vision on border security that does not sound like a call to open borders or the abolition of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. This is a task already more difficult than it should be. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenBiden VP race is highly fluid days before expected pick Senate Democrats demand answers on migrant child trafficking during pandemic Senate Democrats push to include free phone calls for incarcerated people in next relief package MORE and Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandSanders offers bill to tax billionaires' wealth gains during pandemic Senate Democrats demand answers on migrant child trafficking during pandemic Progressives soaring after big primary night MORE have called for gutting the agency, while Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezHispanic Caucus asks for Department of Labor meeting on COVID in meatpacking plants Harris, Ocasio-Cortez push climate equity bill with Green New Deal roots Young minority voters show overwhelming support for Biden: poll MORE has added her voice to that progressive chorus. Eventually, the Democrats will be expected to explain to voters where the shutdown ends and where border security begins. The question that remains is whether they can.

Lloyd Green worked as the opposition research counsel to the George H.W. Bush presidential campaign and later served in the Justice Department. He is now the managing member of research and analytics firm Ospreylytics.