The past few weeks have been somewhat confusing for me as a longtime critic of Donald Trump. In the early days of September, Trump announced a decision to terminate Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which would end protections for nearly 800,000 children who were brought to the United States by their parents. For many Americans, including myself, this was Trump at peak heartlessness. In ending this program, he is trusting Congress, a body that was unable to repeal Obamacare despite clearly having the votes to do so, to ensure that these individuals are protected. This allows him to pin the blame for future deportations on Congress for failing to act.
Yet, since then, something surprising has happened: Trump has started working together with Democrats. Eschewing the Republican Party and the voter base that got him elected, Trump has started meeting with both Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to work towards protecting the status of the undocumented immigrants formerly protected under DACA.
There are, of course, reasons to be wary of such a deal. As The Washington Post pointed out, “in exchange for permanent protections for dreamers,” Trump could gain “broad new powers and resources to enforce immigration laws that go beyond adding more agents or technology along the border. The cost of a permanent Dream Act…could be a new and emboldened deportation force across the nation that undermines civil liberties and terrorizes law-abiding immigrants” (The Washington Post, “With little to lose, Democrats cautiously share the driver’s seat with Trump”, 9.16.2017).
Yet, the left would be unwise to ignore the advantages of such a deal. By codifying these protections into law, the Democrats allow these immigrants to live safely in the knowledge that they can remain in this country and that they do not have to fear that another president could change that.
If the Democrats could achieve a plan that protects undocumented immigrants without empowering United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), this could be a massive improvement in the lives of immigrants in this country.
Schumer and Pelosi should continue to work with the president on these issues as long as they’re able. No one is served by digging our heels into the ground and, regardless of Trump’s motivations, protecting the status of 800,000 undocumented immigrants who came here as children could only be construed as good for America.
I fear, however, that this cooperation may send an unfortunate message to those on the left about Donald Trump. If such a deal were to go through, it is troublingly possible that the effort to investigate Trump’s suspicious ties with Russia during the 2016 presidential election, and the attempts to hold him accountable for it, may fizzle out.
To a certain extent, this does show the advantages of holding out with Trump for four years instead of trying to impeach him. His willingness to buck his own party and abandon the right could be an advantage. Recently, he’s acted more like an independent than a traditional Republican. For the Democrats, that’s very good news. It means that he’s not beholden to the Republican Party leadership and is more likely to make deals if he feels that will make him more popular.
On the other hand, Mike Pence is a much less appealing option. He’s a longtime Republican whose ideas are deeply ingrained in conservative ideology. Unlike Donald Trump, who’s willing to say whatever he needs to get ahead, Mike Pence truly believes everything he says. When Pence says he opposes marriage equality, he means it. When Pence says he opposes abortion, he means it. When Pence advocates hard-line Christian fundamentalist conservatism, he means every word he says. And, more importantly, he actually cares about these issues. He is much less likely than Trump to meet with Democratic Party leadership simply because he’s frustrated with the Republicans. He’s much less likely than Trump to change his mind on any substantive party issue. And he is much less likely to screw up to the extent that Trump has in terms of dealing with people from his own party.
There is a tempting case, therefore, for working with Trump and not seeking to remove him prematurely from office. The Democrats could work with Trump on certain issues, while at the same time broadly attacking his efforts at every opportunity and focus their energy on the 2018 midterms and the 2020 presidential election. A reasonable person could accept this logic.
But we shouldn’t. The Democrats must do what we can to pursue the Russia investigation and, if the evidence suggests it’s an appropriate course of action, remove Donald Trump from office. Doing otherwise could be disastrous for the party, for the American left and for the country as a whole.
Firstly, the Democrats have a moral obligation to the American people to pursue the Russia investigation and impeach President Trump if sufficient evidence emerges to warrant it. This is a nation of laws, and it is the responsibility of our elected representatives to uphold these laws. Therefore, if Donald Trump is found to have been in violation of the law during the 2016 election, which there already is plenty of evidence to suggest, then it is the obligation of the Democrats in Congress to do everything in their power to remove him from office. To do otherwise is cynical, unethical and would betray the trust of their constituents and the American people.
Frankly, as far as I’m concerned, Donald Trump should already be impeached considering the myriad of sexual assault allegations against him. Why there isn’t an investigation regarding these accusations is beyond me.
But let’s assume that no one in Washington ever does the right thing for the right reason, which isn’t much of a stretch. Let’s assume the Democrats are motivated purely by what is in their party’s best interest. Even then it does not make logical sense for the Democratic Party to allow Trump to finish his term.
Too many on the left have taken it for granted that, because of the president’s low approval ratings, he will most certainly fail to be re-elected in 2020. Considering the results of the 2016 election, I can’t imagine why the left would take anything for granted anymore. The Democrats should not operate under the assumption that no matter what they do, Trump will lose; with this mentality, they are setting themselves up for failure as well.
Donald Trump, as awful a person as he may be, is a good salesman. He excels at campaigning. My dislike of him doesn’t change his success as a public speaker; if nothing else, he is excellent at exciting a crowd. He could very possibly win re-election the same way he won last time— by winning over the crowd from the soapbox.
There is no reason to believe that Mike Pence would fare nearly as well. Pence, unlike Trump, is a boring person. He’s not charismatic, he doesn’t excite people, he has no way of distinguishing himself from every other politician out there. Had he not been chosen to be vice president, his political career would have been all but dead.
Mike Pence could never win a national election because he has all of the baggage of Donald Trump and none of the charm. Democrats would still be motivated to vote against him, but no one would be motivated to vote for him. No Republican would be excited about voting for him. Only 26 percent of likely voters even believe that he would make a better president than Donald Trump (Rasmussen Reports, “Voters Don’t See Pence As A Trump Replacement,” 07.18.2017). This doesn’t even take into account the fact that if Pence was the president, he’d be dealing with all the issues that would stem from the fallout of his predecessor leaving office prematurely. He’d be in the same position that Gerald Ford was in, except he’d be associated with a president who was never popular to begin with. The Democrats have good reason to hope that Pence is president in time for the next election.
The Democrats need to try and work with the new administration whenever there is an opportunity, but they cannot lose sight of the ultimate goal. The Democratic Party ought to work to remove Donald Trump from office both because he violated the laws of this country and because it’s good politics.