The Wall, The Democrats and The Art of Negotiating

The first rule of successful negotiating is to do so from a position of strength. If you are not in that position, still declare that you are. If you are negotiating in the public arena, the general audience will not really know which side is stronger, if both are claiming to be such. And if the consequences of just the negotiations negatively impact the public’s welfare, it doesn’t take much brainpower to realize that the public just wants it to end. Who wins is not their major concern. A rising chorus of “please compromise” usually is the refrain to let them get back to leading normal lives. The details of that compromise are secondary to this primary concern.

This is the framework within which President Donald Trump and the Congressional Democratic leaders Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senator Chuck Schumer find themselves in.

The second rule of successful negotiating is to not over play your hand by assuming that your side has more “facts” than the other side has in proposing the right solution to the problem before them. This is a bigger danger for the side that actually does have more and better facts. That may sound counter-intuitive. If they have the better set of facts and they share them with the public, shouldn’t their side be able to sway public opinion to support their side of the negotiations?

That only holds true if both sides have the same size megaphone. If the side with the weaker facts can reach more people, they can blunt and most certainly muddy the factual basis of who is correct. And once they do that, the role of “facts” diminishes. This has been Trump’s consistent “modus operandi.”

And, it is the conundrum that the Congressional Democratic leadership find themselves wrapped in. The President has a bigger megaphone. House Speaker Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Schumer, retort to Trump’s televised address, was rational but also defensive. Worse they didn’t say the magic words “let’s compromise”, which Trump did. Even though the facts show that the Democrats already did when they voted at the end of last year to pass legislation, with both majority Republican and Democrat support, for funding a portion of the wall. Trump originally indicated he would be fine with the legislation. And then he rejected it.

What drives the Democrats, and even a trickle of Republicans, crazy is that Trump sends mixed messages and changes his mind in mid-course. Worse yet, he makes sweeping statements…