If 2024 is about freedom, Trump loses. That’s why he's yelling about ‘the border’

So why are Democrats helping him keep the focus on immigration?

If 2024 is about freedom, Trump loses. That’s why he's yelling about ‘the border’
Border Wall (photo via Shutterstock)

This is a post from FrameLab contributor Jason Sattler. Jason is LOLGOP on Twitter and pretty much any other social media platform. His writing has appeared in USA TODAY, Wired.com, the New York Daily News and Alternet.

It may be the most obvious ploy in the glaring annals of obvious ploys.

After months of negotiations in Congress, House Republicans — led by Donald Trump’s new congressional caddy, Speaker Mike Johnson — announced that they wouldn’t pass anything related to border security or immigration. And Senate Republicans promptly killed their own bill.

You didn’t need to do any detective work to figure out the motive for this legislative murder. The Senator Minority Leader gave that speech where the movie villain explains his guilt. Mitch McConnell told his fellow Republican Senators that “politics on this have changed.”

Trump’s border politics

Why? Donald Trump, who McConnell referred to as “the nominee,” wants to run on immigration.

“We don’t want to do anything to undermine him,” McConnell said.

Faced with Republicans in Congress more interested in doing the bidding of Donald Trump (and Vladimir Putin) than in doing their constitutional duty, Joe Biden’s options are limited. He sees polling that shows “immigration” surging to the top of the list of our most important problems, with 58% of Americans saying “large numbers of immigrants entering the United States illegally” is a threat to America's critical interests for the first time since 2004.

But Biden apparently has also seen some polling that may offer him a way out of this bind.

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Third Way has found that if Democrats go on “offense” about the “border deal” by telling those polled that the Republican rejected their own deal that essentially neutralizes the GOP’s “15-point advantage on having a better approach to immigration and the border.”

Biden takes bait

To that effect, Joe Biden went to “the border” at the end of February to make the case for “the border” bill in Congress.

“You know and I know it’s the toughest, most efficient, most effective border security bill this country’s ever seen,” he said. “So instead of playing politics with the issue, why don’t we just get together and get it done?”

If you are a pollster at Third Way, or a DC insider, or even a thoughtful Democratic activist who cares about getting things done, this probably seems like “a smart political move,” as Charlotte Clymer described it. Clymer went on to logically lay out the intelligence involved in the larger argument, which simultaneously praises the determination of migrants while noting the cynicism of the GOP approach in general.

And to be honest, Biden’s visit might work with one constituency — the press.

Cable news would love to run graphics about how many days it has been since the president has been to the border. And they love to bring on two talking heads to yell about why the bill didn’t pass, as if we don’t know.

But you know who loved Joe Biden’s visit to “the border” even more than the press corps?

Donald Trump.

Because Trump knows if this election is about the “the border,” especially in terms of it being a crisis of “invasion” proportions, it’s his to win.

Freedom at stake

There are numerous reasons why Trump loves this issue. Let’s start with what we are not talking about when we’re talking when we’re talking about “the border.”

  • We’re not talking about how Trump is a corrupt loser who has betrayed America to the point that he’s now an existential threat to it.
  • We’re not talking about the freedoms that have been taken away due the MAGA majority he installed in stolen seats on The Supreme Court — and the further freedoms at risk if he gets the power to implement his obviously authoritarian rollback of rights that have been won over the last century.
  • And we’re not talking about why Trump is talking about “the border.”

He’s doing it to purposely divide America for the benefit of the billionaires who back him, and who have long backed Republicans, raking in trillions on the backs of the bottom 90% who suffer the consequences.

By legitimizing Trump and Republicans as good faith participants in this debate, you legitimize Trump’s “race bating, fear peddling and scapegoating.”

This is a man who tried to overthrow our government. After his coup failed, he fled to his home with stolen national security secrets, and is now using his buddies on the Supreme Court to avoid any criminal accountability.

He obviously doesn’t care about the security of the United States. He cares about ending the freedoms that keep wannabe tyrants like him from seizing power, even though he has no hope of ever getting more votes than his opponent.

You may think we don’t need to keep reminding people of this, but that’s because you’re part of the 20-30% of America obsessed with the news, not the 70-80% who do their best to avoid it.

Anyone who saw Biden down at “the border” now thinks that the biggest problem Texas faces is that too many people want to come to our great country. That’s because we’re not talking about the GOP-inflamed problems the Lone Star State must overcome.

There’s the wildfires supercharged by a changing climate. There are the women put at the mercy of their abusers thanks to the state’s canceling of reproductive freedom. And there’s the countless families struggling because Texas has the lowest minimum wage possible at $7.25 and the Republicans in charge are more interested in bullying the parents of trans kids than prosecuting wage theft.

And let’s not forget that Texas has the highest uninsured rate in the rich world, because the GOP has been refusing Medicaid expansion for working families since 2014.

We know that Republicans have no interest in fixing our immigration system. We’ve known this since long before Marco Rubio turned against his own immigration bill in 2014, after a backlash from the party’s base, which then defeated the House Minority Leader for even thinking about passing immigration reform.

‘Immigration’ strategy

The crisis we face is that we have one party that’s only interested in immigration as a weapon to divide and conquer America. And this bill, frankly, hands over far too many right-wing victories. And it hands them over without securing the innovations that could make our immigration system smarter to prevent future crises and remain a beacon of hope to the world.

That might seem like smart politics inside DC, where everyone can still smell the stench of the House GOP’s obvious ploy. But to the rest of America, it looks like Joe Biden is running to be the second-best Donald Trump.

Joe Biden led the Democrats to a surprising showing in 2022 by focusing America on the unique threat Donald Trump and MAGA present to our freedom and dignity. The Dobbs decision, along with the damage done by a MAGA majority more worried about serving lawless billionaires than the actual law, exemplify the real threats articulated by Biden at Independence Hall.

The president needs to fight for a fair immigration process that respects all families. But he needs to let go of the panacea of a bill that’s dead and was always an obvious trap to generate headlines about “the border.”

That’s because “the border” is a frame that only a demagogue aspiring to be a dictator can love. It reinforces racist imagery of foreign hordes invading American purity, upsetting all the hierarchies the “strict-father” brain holds dear. It’s an incomprehensible sinkhole of incrimination and hate that demands the simplicity and empty promises of an authoritarian.

The way to victory in 2024 couldn’t be clearer, for both candidates.

If we’re talking about freedom, Joe Biden and democracy will prevail.

If we’re talking about fear and punishing people and keeping people down and out, this election is Donald Trump’s to lose.

And that’s a nightmare that no one should help make possible, especially not Joe Biden.

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