Time for a real compromise
The narrative regarding Trump’s shutdown of the Federal government to get his wall is being infected with that disease that sickens the mainstream media: equal time. Consider the coverage of climate change. In general, articles say that one scientist said one thing while another said the opposite. This is what passes for balance in newsrooms. Unfortunately, they should be reporting the fact that one side represents the scientific consensus while the other side is completely biased. Perhaps we should even ignore the paid-for climate denying so-called scientists. But to American editors, that would not be fair coverage.
This approach has allowed the climate denyers to flourish despite the fact that they have no scientific support for their position. It has allowed conservatives to push the mainstream media to cover more and more extreme positions, all the while claiming that the media is biased against them. As Paul Krugman points out, without this commitment to a faux balance, Speaker Paul Ryan would have been revealed for what he really is a long time ago: a flim-flam artist rather than a serious advocate of balanced budgets, as the media had chosen to portray him. The reason for this portrayal: they needed someone to get the “other side” of the argument from after interviewing serious liberal-leaning economists.
We are rapidly going down that same path with the Trump shutdown. The narrative seems to be evolving in which neither Democrats nor Republicans can compromise, and so the government stays closed. But this narrative fails to remember that there was a deal, passed unanimously by the Senate and likely to have been passed similarly by the House, and pledged support by Trump, that would have just continued government operations as is with “only” an additional $1.6 billion for border security. It is Trump who backed out of that deal after facing criticism from Ann Coulter and her ilk.
In effect, Trump just wants the Democrats to support even more funding for the wall with… nothing in return. That is not negotiating. That is holding someone hostage. The Democrats have not refused to compromise. Compromise, however, involves both sides giving something up. As of yet, Trump has offered to give up nothing.
With the aim of proposing a real compromise, here is a potential trade. Trump really wants the wall, and Democrats don’t want to give it to him. He can’t get the wall at this point without Democratic support. What do Democrats really want that he doesn’t want to give them that they can’t get without Republican support? Liberal judges.
Liberals, despite being buoyed by the results of the midterm election, are deeply concerned over continued Republican ability to appoint right-wing judges at a furious pace. If Trump and McConnell really want the wall, give us something we really want: some liberal judges, or at least the ability to veto some of the most conservative.
I’m not exactly sure how to structure such a compromise in a way that we could be assured the Republicans wouldn’t cheat. After all, they have done that in the past. As a result, the deal should involve a release of wall funds over time as liberal judges get confirmed. This is just mechanics, however. If the offer comes forth, a deal could be reached.
I’m sure Republicans will howl at this suggestion. But without such an offer, Democrats have no incentive to change position. There was a deal, Trump backed out of it. If he wants a new deal, he needs to offer something in return. This is something liberals would happily agree to in return for the wall.
In the meantime, perhaps the media should work on providing factual coverage rather than balanced coverage. In and of itself, that would help marginalize arguments that are truly marginal.
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