Trump took the economy hostage over immigration once before, now he wants to do it again
It’s often said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results. So it seems perfectly on-brand for Donald Trump to once again threaten to take the American economy hostage over his fanatical immigration policies. Only someone a few fries short of a Happy Meal—indeed, someone who couldn’t recall where his father was born—would see a strategic opening in once again threatening the well-being of our entire nation over a fool’s errand.
Last time Trump dragged Americans down this path, it was over money for his precious border wall. Trump was more than willing to tank the economy with his deeply unpopular government shutdown in an improvident bid to get more wall funding. Only, he had zero leverage—something any sane dealmaker would have realized. Senate Republicans weren’t behind him. Public opinion wasn’t behind him. He had just gotten ruined in the midterms after beating the drum of nativism into the ground. And ultimately, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi used Trump’s strategic incompetence to bludgeon him until his approvals started sinking and he was forced to retreat.
Guess what? Here we go again. “Security is more important to me than trade,” Trump told reporters Tuesday when he was asked about the economic impact of closing the border with Mexico, America’s third-largest trading partner. Just as with border wall funding, Trump’s main priority is pleasing his rabidly racist base rather than the economic concerns of the rest of America. Meanwhile, White House aides are warning Trump that a border closure would have “catastrophic” repercussions for the economy as they frantically search for ways to mitigate his worst impulses. Senate Republicans, for their part, are closing their eyes and clicking their heels three times.
No polling is available yet on a matter that seemed too impossibly stupid for pollsters to query. But House Democrats are already weighing a symbolic vote to hold GOP lawmakers accountable for Trump’s latest round of hostage-taking.
It’s frightening that the furor of Trump’s addled brain so often overrides any rational impulses that perhaps once existed. Trump remains completely undaunted, even unaware of the fact that he crashed and burned just a couple of months ago when he tried this stunt on the border wall. In the process of that misadventure, Trump put many hardworking Americans through an indefinite hell caused through no fault of their own. Now Republicans are just standing by and watching as he trods down the very same path—taking an action that will solve nothing at the border, while hurting millions of Americans just trying to make ends meet. If he does so, Pelosi will wipe the floor with him and his GOP enablers all over again, and they will deserve it.
But more importantly, why should the country continually have to endure a commander in chief who’s more than happy to terrorize the rest of America on his way to accomplishing absolutely nothing?