NEW YORK – Republicans are finding startling new import in the Greek philosopher Heraclitus’ famous saying: “Change is the only constant in life”. GOP lawmakers on Capitol Hill are in a quandary as President Donald Trump suddenly decided to switch sides in a tug-of-war contest between red and blue teams, on immigration.
GOP lawmakers don’t know whether to loosen their grip in that contest, on issues centric to their core belief and political correctness, and perhaps, flounder into a sinkhole in the process; or to stay astute and firm, play along despite the adversity and loss of face, but end up on the losing team anyway, be humiliated, out of favor with their constituents, too.
It’s now apparent that Trump didn’t only feed some Chinese delicacies to Democrat leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer at a White House dinner, where a deal was parlayed to protect ‘Dreamers’, some 800,000 DACA recipients, from deportation. Trump played some Chinese checkers too, beginning with a pact on the debt ceiling, and is on course to reach home base, with Democrats happy to trail along and land second place.
The Republicans have been left bamboozled, panting and fuming, wondering what other horrors the next dawn will bring, through the dreaded twitter, or leaked sources revealing all to news outlets, of insidious goings on in some corner of the White House, to further debilitate their precarious political future. Swimming off Cape Verde might seem a better option for some Republicans now, than to sit grimly, gnash their teeth at proceedings in the House or Senate.
Whether they like it or not, the Republicans find themselves slowly devolving into pawns in a chess game where they fear being knocked out clinically, by Trump and his new found allies, the Democrats. They are playing a game, they realize, which portends only defeat, even in some key red states, in the next elections.
That awful feeling of nausea, like a terrible, mother-of-all hangovers after a night of partying, is slowly sinking in: perhaps the country is now thinking, why bother electing Republicans on Capitol Hill, when a Republican President can get things done, help pass bills on bipartisan lines, with willing Democrats? Banish those Republicans on Capitol Hill! Their only job seems to be playing bully in an assembly line.
Backlash to Trump’s bold rapport with the Democrats was immediate.
Iowa Republican Congressman Steve King, a fierce anti-immigration critic, sounded the death knell for his party: “Trump base is blown up, destroyed, irreparable, and disillusioned beyond repair. No promise is credible.”
Fox News anchor Tucker Carlson reiterated similar despair in his verdict: “A party this out sync with its own voters will collapse and splinter.”
As Schumer and Pelosi gloated over their achievement – with the former even caught off-tape by C-Span, saying Trump “likes us” (making that hangover seem a perennial headache for the Republicans), and gleeful Democrats mulled on how best to leverage this new political churning in their favor despite Hillary Clinton not able to reside in the White House, Trump with his now distinctive, flamboyant style drove the point home on why he struck a deal with the ‘enemy’, via twitter: “Does anybody really want to throw out good, educated and accomplished young people who have jobs, some serving in the military? Really!…”
Some Republicans might be forgiven for drawing symbolism in Cassini spacecraft crashing into Saturn after a 20-year mission. The 2020 elections may end their streak this millennium (ok, that’s going too far, especially by Heraclitus’ standards).
But even as Republicans find themselves with the onerous task of dealing with a president who can turn to the Democrats with or without a moment’s notice, Trump is now slowly becoming the president America secretly hoped he would, despite negative press he got in the primaries.
The conservative, influential radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh opined that fans and voters of Trump still revere him, which for some Republican legislators is like a Damocles sword.
“Their faith in Trump is total and it is unshakeable, at least as of now, and they are not at all worried about this,” Limbaugh said.
There are new battles ahead though, on the immigration front, for legislators on Capitol Hill. Democrats will be wary of being caught up and under in a tide which Trump is now riding.
Trump’s latest tweet seem to suggest he’s constantly revisiting the DACA issue, on how to wrest initiative from the Democrats, and give an uptick to his ratings: “CHAIN MIGRATION cannot be allowed to be part of any legislation on Immigration!,” he wrote on Twitter, on Friday, two days after Pelosi and Schumer walked out triumphantly, satiated with their Chinese dinner at the White House.
In denouncing ‘chain migration’, or the rule to allow US citizens to sponsor family members for a Green Card, Trump has hit out at a key piece of legislation which Democrats have vehemently declared as sacrosanct.
The battle to win America’s conscience has not ended. In fact, it’s only begun.
(Sujeet Rajan is Executive Editor, Parikh Worldwide Media. Email him: firstname.lastname@example.org Follow him on Twitter @SujeetRajan1)