I think probably, if I was (sic) ever going to do a shutdown over border security, when you look at the caravans, when you look at the mess, when you look at the people coming in, this would be a very good time to do a shutdown. — President Donald Trump, November 16, 2018
Well, is it time for another government showdown. If Congress and the president don’t reach an agreement by December 7th, there will be a partial shutdown of the federal government. The Department of Homeland Security will run out of funds, as will a few smaller agencies.
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What’s holding up an agreement is President Donald Trump’s insistence of getting five billion dollars to spend on his border wall with Mexico during the current fiscal year. His demand is simple: no five billion dollars for the wall, no funding for Homeland Security.
It appears that the president is holding a gun to his own head and threatening to shoot if Congress does not appropriate enough money for his wall.
If Congress does not give in and the government has a partial shutdown, the president will bear most of the blame. While nothing the president does seems to upset his loyal base of supporters, it appears that Trump has learned nothing from the large Democratic gains in the House of Representatives during the midterm election, when Democratic candidates received nine percent more votes than Republicans.
Ultimately, a government funding measure will be passed, with, at best, a fraction of the funding the president requested for the wall. In the meanwhile, still more voters will be alarmed by his antics.
Donald Trump’s behavior is emblematic of the polarization of American politics. Most of the electorate either loves him or hates him. But threatening or actually causing even a partial government shutdown will not win him many new friends.
For virtually his entire term, Trump has gone from rally to rally preaching to his amen choir. But his governance has been turning off increasing numbers of relatively middle-of-the road voters. This narcissistic political strategy is not going to win him reelection, but in the meanwhile he can bask in the adulation of his legions of followers.