It’s still possible that no deal will be made, particularly in the House. But there can be little doubt that many Democrats prepared to make serious—and politically unpopular—policy concessions to Trump. At one point, that reportedly included funding for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border (opposed by 60 percent of Americans). As it stands, the Senate appears to be on the brink of dropping demands to protect the “Dreamers,” undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children (protections that are supported by 74 percent of Americans). “He’s not asking for the kind of money that would build a wall sea to shining sea,” reasoned Missouri’s Claire McCaskill. “He’s asking for the kind of money that can say he built a wall.”
Whatever the outcome, the course of these negotiations demonstrates the erosion of the idea that Trump constitutes a crisis in American governance—that he should be treated differently than any other president. And the same change can be found inching into other Democratic rhetoric. For instance, a recent New York Times interview with former Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick and Democratic strategist Joe Trippi (entitled “Enough Trump Bashing, Democrats”) emphasized the dangers of overreach, stridency, and partisanship. “We need to focus less on what’s wrong with Trump and the Republicans and more on what’s right with us,” said Patrick. With Trump calling for an infrastructure bill—the holy grail of performative bipartisanship—the pressure for moderate Democrats to work with Trump is likely to grow.