The Democrats' strategy in 2020 will be to make the election a referendum on Donald Trump. They will attack Trump as a man who is both unprincipled and unhinged. They will claim he has done terrible damage to our governance, our civil society, and our standing in the world. His demonization of immigrants will be Exhibit A. His indifference to climate change Exhibit B.
The Republican counter-strategy will be to present Trump as a strong leader who will take up the cause of ordinary Americans against the cockeyed schemes of Democrats in the thrall of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and her fellow utopians. They will warn that Democrat schemes will soak taxpayers and that Democrat politicians will be so in thrall to the gospels of inclusion and diversity that their open-borders religion will swamp the country with wave after wave of unchecked immigration.
The two strategies were previewed simultaneously yesterday morning on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" and on "Fox and Friends". Every day the two programs demonstrate that MSNBC and Fox have become the cable-TV surrogates for their respective parties. Most politically engaged watchers of morning TV choose one or the other. Thanks to my video recorder, I was able to catch both, as I work to document our country's division into rival tribes. We've taken a big tumble from the three-network era, when NBC's "The Today Show", anchored by the avuncular Dave Garroway, assembled the country for a family breakfast.
On Monday's "Morning Joe", nearly the entire ensemble of talking heads lined up to take their shots at Trump. Said Scarborough, "He is a champion of white supremacists."
Said John Meacham: "He is unstable, He's a bad actor in the life of the republic." Meacham went after Trump on immigration by invoking the Wall Street Journal's libertarian call for "free men, free markets" in a world of open borders.
Said Richard Haas of the presidential role as head of state: "He's supposed to speak for our collective character. And obviously there's a tremendous disconnect between what this country was founded on — which is a certain idea of openness and possibility and freedom — and the way the president interprets his role."
Said Katty Kay: "He will find any loophole in the law and he will push that as wide as he can in order to advantage himself. And that's been a consistent pattern of his time in business and his time in politics."
While "Morning Joe" was pounding Trump, "Fox and Friends" was celebrating the president's determination to turn back cockeyed Democratic schemes. Their Exhibit A, of course, is the enormous loophole in our asylum policies, which have invited the astonishing influx of Central Americans who are coming because word has gotten out that the U.S. border is open to nearly all who claim to be victims of persecution in their home countries.
Fox's Steve Doocy introduced Betsy McCaughey, a former lieutenant governor of New York. She has just written an essay sounding the alarm about the bill taxpayers are paying to shelter the asylum-seekers during the time they are in the custody of the federal government.
McCaughey claims that the costs, already in the billions of dollars per year, are skyrocketing because of the growing influx of migrants, who are being funneled to 130 shelters across the country. "When you look at what taxpayers are being forced to spend to house these fake asylum seekers, it's staggering," she said. "And the president, believe it or not, actually cares about taxpayers. Right on his budget it says, 'Putting taxpayers first.' And he's doing it by trying to stop this unnecessary expense."
After McCaughey came Tom DelBecarro, former chairman of the California GOP, who talked about his essay titled "Nine Steps to Socialism", which warns about the Democrat threat.
"We have massive tax systems," DelBeccaro said. "And hallmarks of socialist societies are poor incentives where there is weak economic growth. And that comes from tax systems. Trump did a good job beginning with the business tax code. He's got to do better with personal so we have better growth." DelBeccaro went on to warn that the Democrats' "Green New Deal" would stifle economic growth and lead to widespread societal breakdown.
Meanwhile, in the world of print, analyses of our immigration mess by writers for The Atlantic and The Hill lend credence to a concern that is growing among centrist Democrats. They worry that the party is becoming so radicalized by hatred of Trump that it is unwilling to back policies to enforce the law against unauthorized immigration.
In The Atlantic, David Frum writes that that limits to immigration are essential to social and economic stability. He issues a dramatically hyperbolic warning that the American public will demand serious enforcement. "If liberals insist that only fascists will enforce borders, then voters will hire fascists to do the job liberals refuse to do," Frum says.
In The Hill, Nolan Rappaport, a respected Capitol Hill authority on immigration policy and law, points out that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi faces a big test as she deals with her party's new cadre of open-borders enthusiasts who see enforcement as a violation of human rights.
As Rappaport notes, Pelosi is attempting to impose a more centrist position within her caucus, insisting that Democrats are committed to securing the border. He refers to the skepticism about Democratic intentions voiced by Mark Krikorian, the executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies. Rapport writes that if Pelosi supports a Trump plan to stem the influx of asylum seekers, "it might prove that Mark Krikorian was wrong when he said that the Democrats really want an open border."