When is it okay for Democrats to work with Trump? A handy guide

4. Don’t make government dysfunctional

It seems only fair for Democrats to use the threat of a government shutdown and debt default to shake down Trump, after Republicans did it to Obama.

But Democrats will not be able to use that leverage crudely. Unlike for Republicans, touting the benefits of a shuttered government and hysterically mischaracterizing debt-ceiling increases as threats to American solvency is off-brand for Democrats—and even some liberal pundits can be expected to say as much.

The core Republican message is that government doesn’t work, so Republicans have little hesitation in proving the point. Democrats want voters to believe in government. Therefore, playing the lead role in government dysfunction undercuts their objectives.

At the same time, Democrats harm themselves if they come across as patsies. They can’t be sanguine about a spending bill that guts public health agencies while building a border wall. And they can’t play left-wingman for a debt-limit bill saddled with extraneous right-wing policy riders.

So Democrats will need to do more than just resist. As in 2013, they will have convince the public that they are the more reasonable party, and be prepared to deal once Republicans buckle.