President Trump is in a pickle. He’s picked a fight he didn’t really want, goaded on by the unbending and unending voices of the far right echo chamber that fill his day with endless talk. If he backs down now, that’s would amount to a devastating political defeat that would serve only to embolden Pelosi. And it would also make his 2020 campaign nearly impossible. His followers will lose faith in his ability to execute their agenda and win fights, many would revolt in disgust. The hardcore people that back Trump have a view of winning that is only meaningful if the other side loses. With Trump all in on the shutdown for border wall funding, he has painted himself into a corner and he’d rather burn the country down from atop his ivory tower than fold his cards. He’s got nothing to lose in this fight.
Meanwhile, he’s also inadvertently boxed in Leader Pelosi. His aggressive posturing has only served to create an atmosphere where she feels she needs to stand up to his bluster and intimidation. A more subtle and less confrontational Trump could possibly have earned concessions by now. But his approach to governing by fiat has only hardened the will of Democrats in general who see this as a major test with Trump and believe that backing down must be avoided at all costs.
If Pelosi were to back down now, she would disappoint the millions counting on her to finally stand up to Trump. But that’s just one problem. The other problem she faces is that she too would lose the respect of Democrats were she to cave. She would be seen as weak and so for her, backing down from a confrontation with Trump is out of the question. She’s forced to go all-in as well.
So how does it all end? Painfully for everyone. The kind of pain that Americans will need to acutely feel before they really start picking up the phones to their congressmen. The only way this ends is for large numbers of congressmen to break with their own party who have also been put into this untenable position by Trump’s hardball approach. That’s why I think Republicans will ultimately be the ones to cave. Everyone knows this shutdown is due to Trump. We didn’t usually have these smack down, bare knuckle confrontations before he came to power and no one wants to look bullied or intimidated. I also think Republican congressmen, while publicly supporting him, privately gripe about the chaos caused though his poor leadership. Ultimately he’ll lose his coalition long before the Democrats reach a breaking point. No one has an appetite to let Trump strong arm negotiations but hardcore Trump backers and there aren’t enough of them to win.
Since neither Pelosi or Trump can afford to give into the demands of the other, the task will fall to members of congress who aren’t feeling the same pressures as Trump and Pelosi. That leaves Mitch McConnell as the only player with the ability to end the stalemate allowing both Pelosi and Trump to save face, and again, why the Republicans will ultimately be the ones to cave in.
The only possible resolution here leads to Trump being overridden by a veto proof majority from congress. Trump would rather shoot himself than concede defeat in such a public fight with Nancy Pelosi. And Pelosi simply can’t give in to Trump without destroying the morale of the entire Democratic party in the process. Its going to have to be others who end the shutdown. It won’t be Trump or Pelosi.