President Trump playing into the hands of Democrats will cost him

President Trump playing into the hands of Democrats will cost him
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Earlier this week, tensions escalated between President TrumpDonald John TrumpRepublicans aim to avoid war with White House over impeachment strategy New York Times editorial board calls for Trump's impeachment Trump rips Michigan Rep. Dingell after Fox News appearance: 'Really pathetic!' MORE and the Democratic leadership when he stormed out of a meeting with House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiUSMCA is nice but no model Anti-impeachment Democrat poised to switch parties Grassley urges White House to help farmers in year-end tax talks MORE and Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerTurf war derails bipartisan push on surprise medical bills Senate confirms Trump's nominee to lead FDA CEO group pushes Trump, Congress on paid family, medical leave MORE, a meeting which was supposed to be about infrastructure, and said that he would not work with Democrats until they ended all their investigations into his administration. Following the meeting, Trump decided to give an impromptu press conference in the Rose Garden, saying that Democrats need to “get these phony investigations over with,” and until then, he would refuse to come to the negotiating table on any and all legislation.

Indeed, this is a defeating move for Trump. Just as it would be a profound mistake for Democrats to be goaded into impeaching the president, he is making a big mistake by stomping his feet and refusing to engage with Democrats on any piece of legislation less than 18 months away from an election. Pelosi came out of the meeting on Thursday and characterized his outburst as a tantrum, which then led the president to resort back to his argument that he is an “extremely stable genius.” Pelosi later tweeted, “When the ‘extremely stable genius’ starts acting more presidential, I will be happy to work with him on infrastructure, trade, and other issues.”

It is clear that such brash actions by Trump play right into the hands of Democrats, giving credence to their many assertions that he is divisive, unhinged, and unwilling to reach across the aisle to pass any meaningful legislative achievements for the American people. The landmark tax cuts signed by Trump are arguably the cornerstone legislative achievement of his presidency thus far, however, these tax cuts have gradually become less popular. According to a Gallup Poll late last fall, more than half of the public said the tax cuts have not helped them financially, and 64 percent said they have not even experienced an increase in their take home pay.


If the only accomplishments of Trump are enacting unpopular tax cuts and evading an indictment, make no mistake, he will lose in 2020. The American people do not want legislative stagnation, nor do they want impeachment. They want their leaders to focus on the issues that they care about. Indeed, the administration has failed to reach a deal with Congress on rebuilding our infrastructure. This is an issue that voters care about, and the latest outburst from Trump ensures that voters will place the blame for this failure on him and not on the Democrats, who have exhibited a willingness to work with him on an infrastructure deal.

Moreover, the fact that we have no deal on immigration to protect the southern border and provide a pathway to citizenship for the Dreamers, as well as for the 11 million people who are here illegally to guarantee them a degree of permanence in our country, is inexcusable. Immigration is a key issue that voters care about and want their leaders to do something on.

The American people also care about health care. They are concerned about the government ensuring protections for those with preexisting conditions and not letting people fall through the cracks without care they desperately need. Those are the main issues, and those are the policies that the American people care about and are going to vote on in 2020. To be sure, the failure of the government to get anything done on these consequential issues can be pinned on the incumbent administration.

Looking forward to 2020, the Democratic leadership must use his lack of accomplishments and his unwillingness to work with them on important issues against Trump. However, Democrats also need to tread incredibly carefully around the issue of impeachment because getting distracted by impeachment will only hinder their chances of developing a narrative that will undermine Trump, who still trails former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenNew York Times editorial board calls for Trump's impeachment Graham invites Giuliani to testify about recent Ukraine trip Booker leads other 2020 Dems in petition urging DNC to change debate qualifications MORE, the leading Democratic candidate, by over 10 points in most election polls.

Ultimately, my advice to both parties is to stick with the important issues that resonate most with voters, and avoid playing right into the hands of the other side by taking actions that are impetuous or brash. Whether or not either party will heed this suggestion, however, remains to be seen.

Douglas E. Schoen (@DouglasESchoen) served as a pollster for President Clinton. He is a political consultant, Fox News contributor, and the author of “Collapse: A World in Crisis and the Urgency of American Leadership.”