‘We don’t want to work with him’: Democrats vow to defy Trump and obstruct his agenda at every turn
Democrats in Washington are “shifting into full ‘no’ mode” with regards to President Donald Trump and his agenda, according to a Sunday report at Politico.
Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate along with Democratic governors told Politico this week that they see Trump as weak and not in control of his party. Trump, they say, is personally and politically erratic and not worth the risk of compromising with, especially when their constituents are urging them to block the former reality TV game show host’s ever-shifting agenda.
Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) said that Democrats don’t particularly care about who’s up and who’s down in the White House’s internecine battles nor do they feel that anything will spur them to compromise with the floundering executive branch.
“There is zero chance of any of this working out that way, and it doesn’t matter who you’re changing,” said Gallego. “At the end of the day, this is Donald Trump, and we don’t want to work with him.”
His feelings were echoed by Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI), who said, “This notion of the battle between Jared Kushner and Steve Bannon and who prevails is irrelevant in many ways to the policies. What Democrats are responding to is the substance of the policies: It doesn’t matter who wins the internal battles in the White House.”
Politico’s Edward-Isaac Dovere said that in Washington’s currently tense political climate, “the idea of a moderate, post-partisan staff rising to guide Trump into building bridges with them —
even for the sake of building actual bridges as part of infrastructure investments Trump talks about and they agree are needed — has now entered the realm of complete fantasy.”
In December, after Trump’s shocking win in the Electoral College, the mood among Democrats was decidedly different. Stung by the defeat, they began looking for ways to compromise with the incoming administration.
However, after watching Trump stumble and fall and fall again on issues as minute as the crowd size at his inauguration or as massive as ratcheting up tensions with North Korea, Congressional Democrats are newly emboldened and planning to obstruct the president’s agenda in every way they can.
“In the Democratic debate about how to deal with Trump, total obstruction — similar to the Republican approach during Obama’s presidency, with hopes it’ll produce the same results in elections — is winning, and selective, principled compromise is starting to seem like a fever dream,” wrote Dovere.
Their constituents are demanding no less than full resistance, said Cicilline.
“Initially, people didn’t have a full appreciation of how he would conduct himself,” Cicilline told Politico. “They thought, ‘He won, he wasn’t our choice, but he is our president.’ What I’m hearing from my constituents, even some who’ve been more ambivalent, [is] it’s really important to stand up and resist and try to mitigate the damage that he’s likely to cause.”
He continued, “People are really conflicted, because they want government to work, and they know that’s when we can produce good results, but I think that they’re beginning to lose confidence that this administration and this president are interested in getting things done.”
Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) said initially he hoped to be able to find some common ground to work with the Trump administration, particularly with regard to tax reform.
He was disabused of that idea after a few meetings with Trump’s Treasury Secretary Steve Munchin.
“There’s a very big difference between jamming you at the last minute with a piece of legislation and saying, ‘Let’s be bipartisan now,’ versus bringing you into the process so the solution is not an ideologically extreme or rigid document,” he said.
Democrats also say they’re not sure who to consider the Republican leadership with the president apparently weak and unable to whip votes in Congress, Speaker of the House Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) on his heels from the failed “Trumpcare” vote and the far-right Freedom Caucus becoming increasingly obstreperous.
“There is no dog wagging the tail and there is no tail wagging the dog. What would we be working with?” asked Gallego. “[Trump] doesn’t control votes. He doesn’t control the Freedom Caucus. He doesn’t control the Republicans. Their operation isn’t strong enough, we can’t deal with them. Ryan himself is not strong enough.”
Also, given Trump’s tendency to flip-flop on policies, attack his allies and abruptly shift positions, Democrats are unwilling to try to create common ground with a chief executive who may well turn around and attack them the next day on Twitter.
“Chameleons reflect the color that they’re on,” said Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy (D) — chairman of the Democratic Governors Association. “He can reflect what is the hot flavor of the moment, but the reality is that this administration has got to go a long way to indicate that it’s really willing to work with people.”