Real Leadership, Not Political Strategy, Is Needed To Address Border Security And Avoid Government Shutdowns
Border wall security talks between Congressional Democrats and Congressional Republicans were agreed upon as a solution to a budget impasse and prolonged government shutdown over the President’s proposal to build a wall along the US-Mexican border. They were, however, never designed to actually solve border security issues. They were adopted as a political stopgap measure that would allow both Republicans and Democrats to reposition themselves in order to place blame on the opposing side. To deflect blame, Democrats simply had to make a good-faith effort to reach some kind of compromise that would keep government open beyond the Febuary 15th funding deadline. Republicans, who most Americans blame for the situation, had to find a way to make Democrats look like they were more responsible for the political drama than the President. The whole scenario showcases the lack of leadership in Washington.
President Donald Trump is viewed by his supporters as a results-driven leader who will, and has stopped, at nothing to hold corrupt Washington insiders accountable. Nancy Pelosi is also viewed by her supporters as a proven leader whose skillful use of parliamentarian protocol has allowed her to both achieve historic legislative goals in the past and best Trump at his own game. Ultimately, Pelosi may find her greatest political opponent in Trump while Trump may have met his match thanks to Pelosi. Where Trump’s utter contempt for the rules of political engagement have allowed him to drown out the voices of political opponents, Pelosi’s mastery of the rules has empowered her to terraform the political landscape and institute her own brand of liberalism within the Democratic Party. For those who regard politics as a form of warfare, the Trump and Pelosi match-up makes for an interesting spectacle. For those who view politics as nothing more than a precursor to constructive public policy debate, it is clear neither Trump nor Pelosi are actual leaders.
Both Trump and Pelosi are particularly adept at confrontation while they have both had their victories, but winning a war is not the same as being a leader. True leaders unite people to solve problems. Given a three-week deadline, coupled with the lack of a guiding vision and the fact opposition for the Trump proposal was based more on hatred of the President than actual policy differences, talks over border security were guaranteed to be fruitless. At best, they were expected to either give the President room to draw attention away from border security, so he could safely abandon his proposal, or Democrats could give Trump the near-meaningless concessions he needs to appease his base without Democrats offending their own base. Reaching a compromise of up to maybe $2 billion for bolstering current border barriers and increased funding on a handful of other provisions already supported by Democrats appears to be the best deal possible. It is barely a victory in a fight over a poultry sum for a wall likely to only delay the few who might be foolish enough to brave an inhospitable landscape to enter the US.
Quite frankly, the Republican President and his Congressional cohorts are waging a war over peanuts. Not only are they losing a costly battle over an insignificant objective at untold cost to the American People and hurting their chances of achieving far more worthy goals, they are not even able to force Democrats to submit to their authority. Because Democrats have inserted caps on the number of immigrates who can be detained inside the United States, Republicans are able to frame Democrats as anti-security and caste them as saboteurs. Given that the President tends to insert last-minute deal-breakers into negotiations, the criticism is hypocritical, but it shows two things. First, it highlights the fact that political brinkmanship is the true goal of these talks. Second, it shows Democrats are not making an honest effort to find a viable solution on border security. For their part, Republicans are simply trying to find an option that will placate the President and Democrats. The border wall proposal, the government shutdown, and border security talks are all part of a farce perpetrated by both sides of the political aisle to undermine the other side.
Those orchestrating this sham are President Donald Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. While critics of either can easily accept this conclusion when it comes to the opposing side, it is essential to recognize these events are nothing more than the result of what is essentially a pissing contest between political rivals. Their leadership is nothing more than strategy. If Trump and Pelosi were true leaders, they would use border security talks to forward meaningful solutions to real border security issues. Pelosi would avert a second government shutdown by offering public policy options that would bolster border security. Republicans could, in turn, push their public policy options then the two sides could build a comprehensive public policy. Even if a border security overhaul was not finalized within a three-week period, which is an unrealistic goal for any public policy initiative, the President would be able to say legislators were working toward meaningful solutions. If he was a true leader, he would allow the government to stay open beyond the agreed upon deadline and embrace the bipartisan legislative process, which is what the Constitution demands the President do. Unfortunately, politics, not leadership, seems to be the goal of the President, the House Speaker, and the bulk of Congress.
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