Facing an unprecedented level of public backlash that could have brought his presidency to an end within days or weeks, Donald Trump is now backing down. He just signed an executive order which brings to a halt the separation of immigrant families, meaning that immigrant children will no longer be locked up in cages without their parents. Instead they’ll be locked up with their parents. Trump just revealed how weak and vulnerable he is – and he gave away the roadmap for ousting him.
Trump was hoping to use these child camps as a bargaining chip which he could trade away in exchange for his wall. But because public pressure has been so fierce, he’s being forced to give away that chip in exchange for nothing. He and the Republican Congress are still planning to push a bill that would fund his wall in exchange for some minor pro-immigrant concessions, and then paint the Democrats as being anti-immigrant if they stand in the way of the bill. But that’s not going to work.
Trump has now infamously become known as the guy who locked immigrant children inside cages in concentration camps. He’s not going to be able to suddenly spin himself as having been on the side of immigrants all along. Trump’s base is irrelevant to the discussion, because their minds are already made up. This comes down to, as always, the politically moderate and/or politically apathetic people sitting at home – and the images of kids in Trump’s cages are not going to fade any time soon. This will still be a winning issue for the Democrats in the November elections, and a losing issue for Trump and the Republicans.
However, there are more important things at play here. Donald Trump is still going to keep thousands of immigrants locked in concentration camps for the mere crime of not being white; the only difference is that the parents and kids will be locked up together. That is, of course, if his bumbling regime even makes a concerted or competent effort to match the kids back up with their parents. The Democrats cannot stop Trump from keeping immigrants in camps until they win the majority. In the mean time, if we want these people to be liberated, we have to keep pushing back as fiercely as we have for the past week.
But the larger picture here is that Donald Trump just painted a roadmap for his own ouster. He bet what was left of his dying presidency on the premise that he could use these child camps to somehow score a political victory. Then when he realized that he was facing the kind of ground-shaking public pushback that could have instantly finished him off, he quickly changed strategies and backed down. Trump can’t make up his mind whether to come out swinging as his endgame strategy, or cower in fear of the American people. All we have to do is ratchet up the pushback against him, and he’ll continue flip-flopping and fumbling and making himself more nonviable until he’s unwittingly forced his own ouster – but only if we keep up the pressure on him.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report