It’s Time to Free the Hostages
Thursday, January 24th, 2019 @ 9:32AM
There are limits to negotiating with madmen. The rule of thumb for negotiating with terrorists and other sociopaths is to never capitulate less you open the door for future hostage taking and extortion. Madmen possess no empathy or sympathy for their hostages. The hostages they capture are pawns to be used to achieve their aims or discarded if they do not get their way. Many of the 800,000 federal workers impacted by the government shutdown are in severe distress, yet President Donald Trump has no problem telling them he is willing to keep them in distress indefinitely if Democrats do not relinquish and dole out the $5.7 billion he wants to build a monument to himself—a wall on the border with Mexico that Americans do not want.
It is beyond time to open the government and end the suffering and distress for countless Americans. The distress and pain are not limited to the workers who are missing paychecks. Their families and friends share their anxiety and pain, especially the children who will be homeless too if their parents suffer the unthinkable plight of losing the roof over their heads. The media have recorded innumerable stories about families who live paycheck to paycheck. Having experienced a substantial portion of my life living from paycheck to paycheck, having wasted a substantial amount of money on payday lenders, and having spent time mentally preparing myself for homelessness, I understand the stress and anxiety many federal workers are experiencing.
I say give Trump the $5.7 billion. Get as much in concessions as possible. Open the government and see if his wall is built over the next two years. My guess is there won’t be much wall built. The money might be authorized, but the appropriations process could be tricky. The Democratic House is in full control of the purse strings. They could make it nearly impossible for Trump to build his wall. There is wall or fence already on the border in places where it was easily erected. Many people—on both sides of the Rio Grande—are against the building of Trump’s wall. There will law suits and challenges to the wall who many see as ridiculous, if not immoral.
I was firmly in the never capitulate crowd. I too believed that negotiating with Trump was tantamount to negotiating with a hostage-taking terrorist who would be emboldened to do it again and again. I wanted Speaker Nancy Pelosi to remain resolute and not give an inch. Bullies need to be taught a lesson. Trump would eventually throw in the towel when the economic costs would reach a tipping point. His advisors are telling him there are compounding economic costs for each day of the shutdown. I did not believe he would countenance economic instability even for his vanity wall. A few more days of shutdown and we’ll be paying for the wall twice. I say it is time to let it go.
Predicting what Donald J. Trump will do in the future is an exercise in futility. I would not bet on it, but my guess is this may be his final government shutdown. The mere suggestion that he would do it again would invite a furious backlash from Americans of all political stripes. He probably will shut down the government again if the Mueller report turns out to be as damaging and many think it will be. He will need a distraction of monumental proportions.
Trump’s presidency appears to be on the shakiest of grounds. I am almost willing to bet that he does not complete his first term. I am willing to bet even if he does, it will be one and done, regardless of who the Democrats choose to challenge him or his replacement. Republicans will pay a severe penalty for their complicity in Trump’s extortion schemes. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s approval rating stands at 25 percent and sinking fast. Although Republicans appear to be in good shape for the 2020 U.S. Senate races, a significant number are in states where a groundswell of Democratic turnout could spell defeat.