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Dems Won This Fight On the Border. What About the Next One?

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After a 35-day government shutdown, weeks of congressional negotiations to avoid a second shutdown and a widespread consensus among voters that the White House was to blame for it all, President Trump ended up with $1.375 billion for border fencing—less money than he would’ve received had he avoided it all by signing the bipartisan spending bill in December.

It is clear to almost every political observer who has watched the events of the last few days unfold that on this fight, Democrats won and Trump lost.

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And equally clear was that the president would try to spin this as a victory, even as he was left to declare a national emergency—circumventing Congress to build his border wall. “We have so much money, we don’t know what to do with it,” Trump said in a speech Friday in the Rose Garden. “I don’t know what to do with all the money they’re giving us. It’s crazy.”

Democrats consciously decided to hold off on gloating until the funding bill was signed, worried that Trump could renege on the deal. Privately, though, they hadn’t yet tired of all the winning.

But as a matter of both policy and strategy, is just saying “no”—as Democrats did in these negotiations—a sustainable long-term approach to dealing with Trump? Is it enough to simply block his immigration objectives, or do Democrats need to come up with an alternative policy of their own? And just what should that policy be?

We asked some of the brightest strategists and policy minds in the Democratic Party. Here’s what they had to say.

‘There’s a risk of Trump being able to define the alternative’
Celinda Lake is a pollster and Democratic political strategist, and the president of the polling firm Lake Research Partners.

For a long time, Democrats have offered proposals for comprehensive immigration reform. It’s essential that they continue to, both as a matter of policy and politics: Two-thirds of voters believe we need comprehensive reform and support a roadmap to citizenship, and the proposal is very popular with Latino voters and whites, each of which are important groups for Democrats to win over in 2020.

Having such a proposal also protects against many of President Trump’s attacks. In the absence of a clearly defined alternative to the president, there’s a risk of Trump being able to define the alternative to his own benefit.

‘Stopping ill-advised policy is only the down payment’ for what Dems must do next
Cecilia Muñoz is vice president of New America, and served as the director of the domestic policy council for President Barack Obama.

It’s tremendously important for the sake of the country that Democrats demonstrate the capacity to block the president’s misguided policy agenda, including his insistence on wasting billions on a wall which most of the country understands is more of a symbol than an actual border strategy. But stopping ill-advised policy is only the down payment; the bigger opportunity for Democrats is to demonstrate that what they offer the country is the capacity to govern, to bring order out of the chaos created by this president, and restore our faith that our policy makers can address our challenges effectively.

There are indeed challenges that become visible........

© Politico