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Long IslandColumnistsDan Janison

Crying 'socialism' interests Trump more than building unity

President Donald Trump, along with Federal Communications Commission

President Donald Trump, along with Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai, left, speaks about the deployment of 5G in rural areas in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on Friday. Trump also spoke about releasing detained migrants, which he referred to as "illegals," in so-called sanctuary cities. Photo Credit: EPA / Jim Lo Scalzo

“Together we can break decades of political stalemate," President Donald Trump said Feb. 11 in his State of the Union address.

"We can bridge old divisions, heal old wounds, build new coalitions, forge new solutions and unlock the extraordinary promise of America’s future.

"The decision is ours to make.”

Apparently it has been made.

On April 12 he tweeted: "Due to the fact that Democrats are unwilling to change our very dangerous immigration laws, we are indeed, as reported, giving strong considerations to placing Illegal Immigrants in Sanctuary Cities only. 

"The Radical Left always seems to have an Open Borders, Open Arms policy — so this should make them very happy!"

How to square all this with a call for common purpose from an apostate ex-Democrat who didn't capitalize on his two-year head start with a GOP-run House and Senate?

The answer is that the president faces re-election next year. Not a day passes in which he shows the slightest bent toward building bipartisan consensus in Congress on meaningful immigration bills, even as an emergency finally develops at the southern border.

Riding on a GOP devoted to his survival, Trump has no electoral incentive to "bridge old divisions" or "build new coalitions." He sees an edge in casting the bigger party as marginal, perhaps like Democratic Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo painting Republican does  with a broad brush as "extreme" conservatives.

Caricaturing Democrats as "open-border" radicals may take a bit of doing given the last president, Democrat Barack Obama, oversaw the deportation of millions to the chagrin of immigration advocates. 

Facts and governance aside, this makes sense as political strategy for Trump, who needs votes beyond his party to help re-elect him. He will sell fear that our capitalist economy will explode and we will all face foreign invasion if those Others, those wild ones, take charge.

Meanwhile, Democrats are divided over how tied to corporate interests and fundraising they will remain. They carry the burden of a wider coalition. Their control of one house of Congress makes their resistance to Trump a piñata for GOP attack. 

Also vulnerable to finger-pointing are the party's big-state governors that include so-called "sanctuary cities" like New York. Are states that challenge Trump policies in court indeed willing to take up a  challenge to absorb more people?

Effective action might require some measure of national unity or compromise, which as he said last week of WikiLeaks, isn't his thing.

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