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Once again, the left is eating its own.

Dana Milbank mug

Dana Milbank | The Washington Post

Democrats are in a good position as they negotiate with President Trump and the congressional majority over their legislative priorities for the next couple of months: children’s health care, nondefense spending, disaster relief and legalization of the “dreamers,” that group of immigrants brought here illegally as children. They also are within reach of retaking both chambers of Congress in November.

But the dreamers have decided to give the Democrats a rude awakening.

When lawmakers reached a short-term, bipartisan deal last month to keep the government funded, United We Dream, the organization leading the campaign to legalize the dreamers, launched an all-out attack on Democrats for failing to insist that Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals legislation be included in the spending bill.

The group declared the 17 Senate Democrats who voted for the bill the “Deportation Caucus” and, in a social-media barrage, said they “voted to deport young immigrants.”

United We Dream also fired off a tweet praising conservative Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, “for voting no on a spending bill that did not include a Dream Act. We see your commitment and we need you to continue fighting with young immigrants!”

This is bonkers.

Democrats — in and out of the supposed “Deportation Caucus” — support legalizing the dreamers. And Lee? His opposition to the spending bill had nothing to do with dreamers. He had called DACA “an illegal abuse of executive power.” Meanwhile, Trump, who created the artificial crisis by announcing he would end DACA, gets away with barely a scratch.

United We Dream deleted the pro-Lee tweet but continues to attack Democrats. There have been sit-ins and sometimes arrests at the offices of Democratic senators.

The opposition party has been unusually unified over the past year, the result of their common horror over Trump’s ruinous reign. But just as things have begun to look hopeful for Democrats, the “professional left,” as Robert Gibbs famously called it, has begun manufacturing wedge issues to cleave the Trump opposition: over single-payer health care, impeachment, abortion and, now, immigration.

I’m sympathetic to the dreamers’ demand for immediate action. Greisa Martinez Rosas, director of advocacy for United We Dream, tells me that her group has “called out Trump as a white nationalist” and has identified the many Republicans who oppose DACA as “dream killers.” The group’s recent attacks on Democrats reflect desperation as time runs out for DACA.

The problem for Democrats is that the party is a collection of one-issue entities, which too often use internecine disputes for fundraising and, collectively, thwart any attempt at a cohesive progressive strategy.

The dreamers’ attacks on Democrats are particularly counterproductive because there is no ideological disagreement. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer and other Democrats are playing a chess game: They know Republicans want an increase in defense spending, and they’re seeking to use that as leverage to gain domestic spending increases, renewal of the Children’s Health Insurance Program, disaster relief and DACA legislation.

United We Dream, by contrast, understandably wants the DACA legislation above all. It is demanding that Democrats instigate a government shutdown on Jan. 19 by refusing to support a short-term spending bill that doesn’t legalize the dreamers. Those who favor this approach argue that Trump and Republicans would be blamed for the pain of a shutdown, and Republicans would then legalize the dreamers.

Maybe — or maybe the Democrats would be blamed, and their political and legislative hopes (and those of the dreamers) dashed for years.

Instead of training their fire on those who support them, dreamers and their supporters could use their prodigious energy on the 34 House Republicans who said they support legalization. These Republicans could force House Speaker Paul D. Ryan to include DACA in the spending bill. Also on Tuesday, a federal judge ordered that the DACA protections remain in place while a court case proceeds. And Ryan softened his earlier insistence that DACA not be considered as part of a spending bill.

Meanwhile, dreamers and the Democrats will likely gain more leverage against Trump and the Republicans with the approach of March 5, the day the DACA program, per Trump’s order, is set to expire. Trump, who had made clear he has no appetite for deporting the dreamers, would then have to capitulate — and Democrats could get a better deal for the dreamers.

Patience has been paying off for the Democrats. In his marathon televised session with lawmakers at the White House on Tuesday, Trump softened his position on the border wall and suggested a DACA deal could be had while postponing thornier issues such as chain migration.

Dreamers will win this fight — if they don’t mow down their friends first.

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Dana Milbank is a columnist for The Washington Post.

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(9) comments

oldhomey

I agree with this column. I think the Democrats, my party, is without direction and leadership, and it is in big trouble at a time that it should be soaring past the absolutely corrupted and gutless GOP.

new2Lax

As has been wittnessed, everything does works

oldhomey

Speaking of what does and doesn't work, new2, your 12:17pm post once again shows your peculiar syntax never works. Seven words, one misspelled, and it is completely, totally without any perceptible meaning. You are an amazing figure of negative wonderment.

Tim Russell

So is tRump for resolving the issue today or is he against it today.
It is hard to keep track of his position as it changes back and forth depending upon what is being said on Fox & Friends.

johnnybragatti

What we have here is a failure to communicate.
Trump ,the racketeer,the extortionist and money launderer, started a phony war...and it"s working.

Slider

Maybe this portion of the Democrat party is starting to realize that Democrat politicians give them lip service to their face and then once the door is closed, vote against their issues.

oldhomey

Right, Slider. The GOP and Trump have done SO much for the angry working class stiffs who elected Trump. China is starting eat our lunch (look it up, Buggs), we have forfeited our leadership and position of hope to the rest of the world under Trump, we are on shakier ground than at any time in this new millennium as far as our security in the world, the GOP has given the go ahead to industrial polluters to do as they please in this country, let public health concerns go hang. The tax cut, which might mean enough extra money in the monthly take home pay to take the family out to a restaurant for a meal once a month, or perhaps new shoes for the three kids. But that money will soon disappear as key federal social services disappear and state and local governments raise taxes to pick up the slack. But, of course, the extremely wealthy, the people who bankroll their lap dog candidates for presidential, congressional, gubernatorial and state elections, are richer and more powerful than ever before in the last century due to the tax "reform". Meanwhile, Slider, you go right ahead and chase after the squirrel distractions the GOP lets loose to keep you from noticing the larger truth of their duplicity, stuff like all the rapists and murderers piling into this country by the millions as illegal immigrants, what bathrooms should remain closed to transgender high school students and fake, pseudoscience attacks on efforts to stem global warming. That is what they want you to pay attention to while you are being stolen blind.

crank

Milbank and Slider correctly pointed out the duplicity of Democrats. I know it must be painful to acknowledge, but Slider is correct when he observed this portion of the Democrat party is starting to realize that Democrat politicians give them lip service.

[offtopic]

Rather than agree with what is obviously true, you accused Slider of ignoring the duplicity of the GOP while ignoring the duplicity of your own party over the issue which is the topic of this column. Instead of focusing on this topic, you go after Slider and numerous topics unrelated to this column. You seem to be the one focused on squirrel distractions because here you just released this stampede of them. Look at 'em all! [scared][lol]

I won't wait for your non-responsive troll about my use of emoticons. I expect, as usual, you'll be tempted to resort to some other form of argumentum ad hominem as a distraction from Milbank's and Slider's observations (and now mine). More squirrels won't make a difference in your little stampede. [rolleyes]

#dontfeedthetrolls

oldhomey

Ahem. crank you can use your emoticons to your heart's desire. Why should you give a fig if I think it is puerile or not? My "non-response" is more to this purpose: You didn't seem to read or comprehend this column very carefully. Milbank was pointing out duplicity, all right, but it was of the GOP. I don't know any other way to interpret it other than that if you consider this bite out of the column:

"The group declared the 17 Senate Democrats who voted for the bill the 'Deportation Caucus' and, in a social-media barrage, said they 'voted to deport young immigrants.'

"United We Dream also fired off a tweet praising conservative Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, 'for voting no on a spending bill that did not include a Dream Act. We see your commitment and we need you to continue fighting with young immigrants!'

"This is bonkers.

"Democrats — in and out of the supposed 'Deportation Caucus' — support legalizing the dreamers. And Lee? His opposition to the spending bill had nothing to do with dreamers. He had called DACA 'an illegal abuse of executive power.' Meanwhile, Trump, who created the artificial crisis by announcing he would end DACA, gets away with barely a scratch.

"United We Dream deleted the pro-Lee tweet but continues to attack Democrats. There have been sit-ins and sometimes arrests at the offices of Democratic senators."

He goes on to explain that the Democratic Party is made up of many splinter groups, each of which has its own primary agendas, and he is taking this dreamers group to task for attacking the only party that is standing up for their agenda. The Democratic Party is the party with the big tent, taking in people of all stripes, religion, race and opinion. If it is to get power and remain in power, these diverse groups have to work with and for each other. It is a difficult, imperfect but ultimately transformative effort. I think it is called democracy, and the Democrats historically have been much better at this than the GOP. But I don't have any emoticons to give my opinion the stunning authenticity and power that you command with your misinformed observations.

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