One by one, Democratic lawmakers appear to be defecting from the hard line drawn by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). As President Trump’s fight for a border wall rapidly gains momentum, and more and more Americans are showing support for it, legislators may be seeing that their unyielding opposition to border security will hurt their chances in 2020.
The Democrats’ unwillingness to compromise with the President on an issue that is so obviously important to the American people will become difficult to defend on the campaign trail, especially now that the frightening and often tragic results of illegal immigration have found the spotlight.
Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-IL), the chairwoman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), appeared on CNN and expressed her openness to a border wall: “If we have a partial wall, if we have fencing, if we have technology used to keep our border safe, all of that is fine.”
Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) also offered weak support for the wall in a recent CNN appearance. “Some fencing is useful, some barriers are useful. There’s a lot of surveillance technology. I’ve been to some cities on the border that have triple fencing and have more personnel and have the technology to see the people moving in the middle of the night.”
Even Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) and Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) offered grudging support for a wall. When asked if the US needed a border wall, while rattling off all of the Democratic talking points, Swalwell was interrupted and was again asked about a wall. He said, “fencing, yes, where there are vulnerabilities.”
Nadler, in his usual unpleasant manner, said, “maybe, in some places, not a 700 mile fence.”
The aptly named Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), when asked whether he would support a wall, said “Well, I can tell you, we’ve had fencing in the past, I’m sure we will in the future. It won’t be a big, long, beautiful 2,000 mile wall.” He then changed the subject to the drug epidemic and said he “would offer $300 million in making sure those ports of entry start stopping narcotics.”
So, far from openly embracing the idea of a border wall, Democrats are showing signs of resigned submission.
And that is quite a contrast from the intransigence Schumer and Pelosi displayed in their widely mocked rebuttal to Trump’s address on Tuesday night. Pelosi doesn’t seem to have quite as strong a grip on power as she did throughout her first reign as Speaker. Democratic legislators facing a choice between loyalty to Pelosi and compromising with Republicans to end the shutdown, especially those from red states, may choose the later.
Trump has offered to compromise. Until now, Democrats have remained unwilling. Hopefully, a sufficient number of Democratic senators will also choose compromise.
Trump has come too far to back down now. The construction of a border wall has become all but inevitable. Trump is trying to protect the American people. Democrats are playing politics. And that won’t be a winning hand in 2020.