by Jeffrey A. Rendall
Late last week Democrats and the liberal establishment media trumpeted the fact the government shutdown had reached a milestone — at three weeks in duration, it was the longest involuntary bureaucratic work stoppage in the nation’s history.
As would be expected, leaders of both parties blamed the opposition for the impasse, repeating ad nauseum the same tired arguments they’d advanced for weeks…months…years. It’s almost as though the political class didn’t study the theory of diminished marginal utility in high school or college Economics class.
For those memory challenged (or perhaps zoned-out with glazed eyes when the subject was covered in the classroom), according to Wikipedia, diminished marginal utility means, “…the first unit of consumption of a good or service yields more utility than the second and subsequent units, with a continuing reduction for greater amounts. Therefore, the fall in marginal utility as consumption increases is known as diminishing marginal utility.”
Where the DC swamp dwellers are concerned, diminished marginal utility means the act of mouthing the same thing over and over again has less and less effectiveness as time passes. Lord knows Americans don’t possess the greatest attention spans as it is, and coming just a couple months removed from the contentious and nasty 2018 midterm campaign citizens are ready for a break from the back-and-forth backbiting nonsense and ready for something — anything — to happen.
To his credit President Donald Trump appears focused on moving the negotiations, indicating a willingness on several occasions to compromise on total dollar amounts and even having moved from insisting on a solid concrete barrier to settling for steel slats, all in hopes of bringing incalcitrant Democrats back to the table to unearth means to agree.
Democrats just won’t do it. The shutdown drags on, Americans grow more and more bored at the proposition and the “marginal utility” of repeating the same old spent talking points heads towards zero.
It doesn’t take a genius to see Democrats are digging their long-term political graves with sharpened shovels these days. The more reasonable among them are pointing it out. Clinton campaign strategist Mark Penn wrote at Fox News, “Trump, it seems to me, is not the obstacle to getting these things done. The obstacle is the idea that it’s better to throw up resistance to cripple the presidency than to get things done. The obstacle is the politics of ‘no’ seems more advantageous than the politics of ‘yes but.’…
“Rather than being overshadowed by the Ocasio-Cortez show, the Democrats have an opportunity to realign the mainstream suburbs here on a longer-term basis if they become the party of action and fair compromise. They can be the ones who point fingers and fight over who caused the shutdown or they can be the leaders who stepped up, were bigger and ended it for the good of the country. The choice should be an easy one.”
An even better reason than the purely political concerns Penn touched on is building a barrier (or wall or fence or whatever you choose to label it) is simply the right thing to do. In acceding to some sort of constructed compromise Democrats could conceivably even claim partial credit for the finished product instead of burying it under a sea of leftist anti-Trump propaganda — but they’ll never do it for a variety of reasons, all political.
Penn is correct Democrats would stand to secure chits from the ill-defined malleable middle of America’s voting pool, but they’d lose a lot more (love) from their leftist extremes than they’d gain from picking up a goodwill percentage point or two from self-styled “independents”. The open borders, trash ICE-all-the-time crowd wouldn’t tolerate Nancy Pelosi and “Chucky” Schumer giving in to Trump under any circumstances. Such a move is akin to ultimate treachery and betrayal to those who’ve joyously donned pu–y hats, tossed urine bombs and carried vulgar signs since Trump took his oath almost two years ago.
If all this time Pelosi and Schumer said “no wall under any circumstances” they’d better mean what they say! Who cares if the suburbs would permanently swing to the Democrats if party leaders suddenly look reasonable and forward-thinking — who needs those middle-class fools anyway!? Sometimes they vote for Republicans!
It also must be kept in mind the 2020 Democrat presidential campaign is only getting started with several would-be kings (or queens) having already tossed their proverbial scepters in the ring. Every single one of these hungry Democrats will be taking to the cable news shows to relentlessly bash Trump — including his wall, hair, personality, administration personnel, tweets and policies — and there’s no incentive for any of them to be reasonable when the eventual race winner will most certainly come down on the anti-wall side.
Meanwhile, eternally politically conscious Pelosi and Schumer wouldn’t dare do anything seen as damaging to the party or their presidential standard-bearer. And Pelosi especially wants her final days/years as Democrat House head to be viewed by posterity as successful and deliciously obstructionist. What good would it do her to bend now?
If anything, Trump has the easiest side to defend on the matter. As president he can determine whatever type of barrier is built while constantly revising estimated costs to fit his vision of a protective wall. Anything that goes in the ground, is easily visible on both sides of the border and keeps hordes of would-be illegal migrants from penetrating U.S. territory is a winner. Statistics will definitely demonstrate that the barrier’s working to keep the unwanted out — and those already here will be dealt with in a civilized manner, hopefully with a taxpayer-provided plane ride home.
Trump’s “marginal utility” is significantly higher than the Democrats’ here. He can slightly alter his position without ceding much political turf. Current polls show the public largely blames Republicans and Trump for the shutdown but the race is long and there’re miles to go. Doing nothing is the Democrats’ only default choice. Trump can go forever on this and still end up ahead.
Time is proving to be on Trump’s side, too. Daniel Chaitin reported at The Washington Examiner, “Support for President Trump’s wall along the U.S.-Mexico border is at an all-time high weeks into a partial government shutdown which began over a border security dispute for funding.
“According to the results of an ABC News and Washington Post poll released Sunday morning, 42 percent of Americans support a wall. That is up from 34 percent one year ago and a previous high of 37 percent in 2017.
“With 54 percent, the majority still oppose building a border wall. However, that opposition is shrinking, as 63 percent opposed the wall a year ago and the previous low was 60 percent two years ago.”
The survey also showed only 24 percent believes there’s a crisis-level situation at the border. The point is debatable but what isn’t in doubt is the harm inflicted on this country as a result of an unprotected border with Mexico. Every nation — including Mexico — frowns on illegal migrants ignoring their laws and entering without official permission.
Those that do (enter another country illegally) typically suffer consequences far worse than how lawbreakers are treated here. There’s no equivocating as to what to do with them either — they’re deported…or worse.
Democrat leaders are increasingly being held hostage by the open borders/anti-law enforcement kook fringe of their party. Unlike with President Trump’s position on the government shutdown, there are no good political options for them. The longer it draws out, the more they stand to lose.
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Jeffrey A. Rendall is a senior contributor for ConserevativeHQ.com.
Photo “Democratic Leaders” by PBS Newshour.