Bloomberg News’ Editorial Board has published a piece arguing that Democrats need to stop avoiding discussion of the migrant caravan and start reassuring voters they side with Trump on the need for a secure border. Bloomberg suggests the best thing Democrats could do right now is to tell the migrants to turn back:
In response to the march, President Donald Trump has tweeted his intention to deploy the U.S. military to “close our Southern border.” He’s also threatened to halt U.S. aid to the governments concerned as punishment for failing to block the caravan.
And in response to the president? Well, Democrats have been ominously silent. This is a mistake — and an abdication of responsibility. Democrats, who are trying to make the case for their ascension in the midterm elections, need to make clear that they agree with Trump on the need for a secure border and that they are prepared to work with him to ensure that it remains so.
The first step ought to be straightforward. Democrats should call on the marchers to turn back, far and away the best solution. In this, they ought not to shrink from saying they agree with the president…
Democrats are right to demand compassion for the migrants. But they will be failing the test of leadership if they seem to say the border doesn’t matter or if they cede the governing to Trump. The caravan is coming, and they’ve given no sign that they know what to do.
Also today, the Chicago Tribune’s John Kass notes that Democrats’ response to the caravan has been a “dumb, shocked silence.” He goes on to say that in this case their silence should be taken as consent.
Depending on your politics, you’ve probably already called it something. Or, you may have followed the example of Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi or Chuck Schumer, who’ve found a nice pile of warm sand and stuck their heads in there.
Wasn’t it just months ago that leading Democratic presidential contenders were demanding to abolish the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency that deports people here illegally?
Those were the days when the hard left that now controls the Democratic Party made it clear that border enforcement, by its nature, was racist and lacked compassion.
And their allies in the Democratic Media Complex waxed on endlessly about families being separated at the borders, even though they were separated by law after they insisted on crossing the border illegally.
But now, it’s crickets from the Democrats, a dumb, shocked silence.
I wrote about this topic yesterday based on two different opinion pieces, both of which argued Democrats were making a mistake by refusing to find some middle ground on this issue rather than rushing to say the opposite of whatever Trump is saying. But I think Kass is correct in his diagnosis of the reason for the left’s silence. First, they can’t believe this is happening in the midst of their blue wave. For example, here’s how Vox’s story about the caravan opens:
If the migrant caravan didn’t exist, President Donald Trump might have needed to invent it.
The existence of a massive group of Central Americans pushing toward the US without papers — even if they are still hundreds of miles away — seems like something Trump’s GOP might create in a lab to unleash on the eve of the midterms.
But the caravan is real.
Secondly, beyond being stunned, I think Kass is right that the silence from the left is also prompted by the fact that the left doesn’t really believe in the middle-ground position. That may be partly because Trump owns the issue making even a modestly positive comment about the border verboten for Democrats. The left-wing base would not tolerate it because it would sound Trumpian.
But I suspect Trump has actually moved more than a few Democrats leftward on this issue, to the point that they aren’t quite sure borders themselves are a good idea. Some Democrats are probably quietly cheering on the caravan, but they are smart enough to realize that a lot of their constituents aren’t ready for that. It puts them in a tough spot. If you can’t say what you believe and you can’t say what the other guy believes, the only option that remains is silence. And that’s where Democrats are right now, silently consenting because it’s a smarter play than vocally consenting.
Sure, I know the official explanation here is that Democrats have made a strategic decision not to get pulled into Trump’s game. They claim this is about staying focused on winning issues like health care. But that only reinforces the point that this is not a winning issue for the left. They can’t find middle-ground because they don’t believe in it or because they know their constituents don’t.