President Donald Trump's historic, televised meeting this Tuesday on immigration reform proved that he seeks to lead all Americans -- not just his base. Seated between Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md., Trump appeared to defer to legislators, while encouraging them to get to work on legislation regarding immigration, the wall and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.
"President Trump offered support for sweeping immigration legislation at a White House meeting on Tuesday, sending the signal he's willing to embrace a bipartisan deal in a midterm election year with the GOP's congressional majorities in play," wrote Jordan Fabian Tuesday in an article published in The Hill, which carried this headline: "Trump says he'll take heat for immigration deal."
While some might view the president's move as political suicide, or at least confusing, the American people don't agree. They are looking for action and accomplishments from their elected officials. A Gallup Survey released October 9, 2017, (random sample of 1,022 adults, conducted Sept. 6-10, 2017, sampling error +/- 4 percentage points) provides the data. "Fifty-four percent of Americans want political leaders in Washington to compromise to get things done. This far outpaces the 18 percent who would prefer that leaders stick to their beliefs even if little gets done, while the views of 28 percent fall somewhere in between. The gap between compromise and sticking to principles is the widest in Gallup's trend."
With tax reform behind him, new limits on governmental regulation, and the stock market booming, Trump has the opportunity to make real progress on immigration. Yes, he can!
A core difference between traditional Republicans and Democrats is their divergent beliefs regarding how much government should be involved in people's lives. Historically, the parties have been divided between more government for Democrats and less government for Republicans. But we are seeing that the issues that Democrats have traditionally sought to solve via government intervention can be addressed more effectively by people, corporations, and communities. Republicans believe that, as we continue to grow economically, this will become more apparent.
Former CEO of CKE Restaurants Andy Puzder's op-ed, "Raise Wages via Growth, Not Mandates," in the Wall Street Journal this past Sunday is a great example. "President Trump's regulatory rollback is driving an economic surge few anticipated. Tax reform promises to accelerate that growth by encouraging business investment and eliminating the perverse incentives that drive companies, jobs and investments to other countries. The true test for these pro-growth policies is whether they result in a more participatory economy, in which workers' incomes meaningfully increase over the long run. The early results are promising."
If regulations drive up wages, there could be unintended consequences: a loss of full time positions, less investment and fewer new hires. Real change comes from real work, not more regulation.
As the economy improves, there will be fewer hard economic issues for Democrats to pursue and they will turn to softer, emotional issues. By taking on and solving immigration and DACA, Trump can Trump them.
In an effort to push for action during Tuesday's meeting, Trump provided cover for both sides. "I think my positions are going to be what the people in this room come up with," Trump said, "I'll take the heat off both the Democrats and the Republicans."
In my column last week, "Hard Work, Real Communication," I wrote "while both Republicans and Democrats support some type of protection, they differ on the details, as they do for Trump's proposal to build a physical wall between the United States and Mexico. Republicans should address this as a yes and yes issue: Yes, we will extend protections to dreamers (with details), and yes, we will build a wall. Democrats will attempt to paint their GOP counterparts as heartless, but the 'yes and yes' structure will make the Republican position clear."
Trump is offering a "yes and yes" regarding immigration. Yes, he wants a "bill of love" that would address DACA recipients, and yes, Trump wants border security.
The one thing that Trump continues to do fascinates not only the public and the news media, but also long-time politicians. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-SC, called Tuesday's discussion "the most fascinating meeting I've been involved with in 20-plus years in politics."
The Yes and Yes approach will provide Americans not only with the kind of bipartisan solution that they want, but could provide Republicans with the leg up they will need in the fall of 2018.