Has Donald Trump suddenly become an apostle of bipartisan collaboration? More like one of the most disjointed presidents the United States has ever known. The man hasn’t been so dangerous since his arrival at the White House. Recently, he changed positions on the question of the “Dreamers” and made a calculated, self-interested move by striking a deal with Democrats. Are Republicans divided? We’re delighted.
American political life is based on the art of the deal. And it’s through this lens, in part, that we must understand the meeting of minds that this week united President Trump with Democratic Party leaders around an agreement intended to address the situation of the 800,000 undocumented child arrivals to the United States, in exchange for a number of border security measures.
This meeting of the minds is a sign that Trump quickly regretted having repealed, just 10 days ago, the decree by which former President Barack Obama made these “Dreamers” immune from deportation and allowed them to live, work and study legally in the United States. And that he quickly realized that the Republican majority in Congress would accomplish nothing in the six months he had given them to find an alternative.
The failure of the “repeal and replace” strategy for the health care law (Obama's health care law known as "Obamacare") has left a mark. It demonstrated the extent to which there are no longer two, but rather three parties in Congress and showed the divisions within the Republican Party between moderates and ultraconservatives.
Hence, this unnatural alliance between the White House and the Democratic minority. Trump takes note, at least from time to time, and now thumbs his nose at his own party—if indeed the Republican Party is truly his party. Let’s not forget that last year, he became the presidential candidate against the absolute will of the Grand Old Party establishment. But the opportunity is too good for him to go back now. Trump is his own party. He is capable of any and all bargains.
This strategy could affect other legislative initiatives — or not. The moment the Democrats get along with Trump and agree to support him as a group, the president needs only a portion of Republican votes to obtain a majority in both the Senate and the House of Representatives. The debate over the “Dreamers” will test this approach. If it works, other agreements will follow.
By negotiating with the enemy, the president has attracted the ire of the ultraconservatives, who accuse him of watering down his anti-immigration positions and backing down on a key campaign promise: the construction of a wall along the Mexican border.
His voter base will be “destroyed, irreparable,” prophesized Steve King, an Iowa representative who holds fiercely anti-immigrant positions. “If we’re not getting a wall, I’d prefer President Pence,” remarked the polarizing commentator Ann Coulter.
If, for now, Trump has chosen to circumvent these hysterical voices who see him as their savior, the fact is that he will have ample time to reconnect with his most virulent anti-immigration positions. He hasn’t finished scaring us. His ultranationalist sensibilities are extensive and his inclinations for the extreme right are firm. His compassion for the “Dreamers” is the exception that makes the rule.