Let me preface by saying yes, I know there’s been conflicting information on this and that nothing has been formalized or even talked about too much yet. Instead, this is an examination of the underlying persuasion that could be going on in any DACA deal that happens and the perils that would have to be navigated.
When Donald Trump fulfilled a campaign promise and rescinded DACA a couple of weeks ago, there was a nuclear level meltdown by a fake news media in the throes of another confirmation bias delusion. But with the rescinding of DACA, he promptly began to switch gears and tell Congress to act, indicating he wanted something done, with tweets like these:
…They have been in our country for many years through no fault of their own – brought in by parents at young age. Plus BIG border security
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 14, 2017
Do you notice how this mirrors the language of the left almost exactly as they use it?
Associating DACA, an outright unconstitutional act, with the word “Dreamers” attached with an image of children being brought into the United States with no choice, was always a smart marketing play by the left. It’s been so successful that you even see many on the right and in the conservative-oriented media using the term without any second guesses.
In terms of frame control, the right was going to be behind on this issue. Most Americans don’t want the “Dreamers” deported either. Donald Trump would certainly sniff that kind of thing out. He knows what a market is.
The problem for him is his primary market hates DACA and any talk of a deal on it is suspicious in that circle. That primary market is the source of his power.
So what’s he to do? Is this talk of a deal a gross betrayal to his base or could it be something clever?
Well, the simple answer is that nothing’s for sure yet!
At first glance, that talk of a deal looked like some kind of A/B test or trial balloon. Notice the vague languange and then the decisive change of that language after Ann Coulter and others in Donald Trump’s base screamed and hollered about a potential DACA betrayal.
Donald Trump’s mirroring of the Democrats’ language on DACA in recent tweets looks like pacing and leading to me. If you don’t know what that is, pacing and leading is a persuasion technique where you attune yourself with your audience and then lead them where you want them to go, as people will more easily be influenced by those they like, which usually comes with thinking that someone is “exactly like you.” Unlimited Selling Power has a whole chapter on it. Donald Trump talking the language of the Democrats on DACA means that their state of mind will begin to change and opposition on any other immigration policy could begin to lessen because he’ll be leading them after pacing them with the nice DACA talk.
TL;DR, mirror them, then watch as they mirror you.
The problem comes because Trump’s primary market is very sensitive to anything it perceives as a betrayal on immigration, as politicians have been doing it for decades. Scott Adams made the point the other day that “wall” is basically a simple visual for a complex subject in “border security.” But “border security” is also a phrase that, to Trump’s base, has meant nothing for decades. It’s a hot-word that trips their sensitive antennae (see another chapter in Unlimited Selling Power about those).
Yes, anyone who thought that “build the wall” meant a solid wall stretching from the Gulf of Mexico to the Pacific Ocean was putting in their mind’s eye what they wanted to put in. The same goes for deporting every single illegal immigrant including those with DACA status. I said as much in Stumped – Trump starts negotiating from a high place and uses vague language to get you to fill in the blanks.
But nevertheless in appealing to those fantasies, he’ll have to show that he’s fulfilling them in some form or fashion. He opened that door, so he has to deliver. If you blow apart someone’s fantasy, he’ll never forgive you.
That means that Donald Trump has to start building big visual barriers that he can claim to be “the wall.” Those walls will be put in the places they were always going to be put. They have to be if a deal is to make sense for his base.
It also means that he’ll have to lead Democrats to other immigration concessions in any deal. He seems to have figured this out, or at least the start of it, with this tweet.
CHAIN MIGRATION cannot be allowed to be part of any legislation on Immigration!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 15, 2017
So it seems that’s what he could be up to – pacing the Democrats on DACA to lead them into giving him more of what he wants, most notably the wall.
But if this doesn’t come to pass and DACA goes through with nothing in return, the fantasy of Donald Trump ends, and with it, his chances of reelection.
Unless the Democrats run someone so batshit crazy that his base has no other choice. That’s far from impossible.
Bottom line though, if the Republican base and the people in the Rust Belt that put Trump over wanted someone who would cut their taxes and all the rest of that stuff they could have voted for Jeb(!).
Immigration was one of, if not the signature issue that won him the election.
So if he wants any deal on DACA to be successful for him, he’d better keep that in mind.
On the one hand, he’s surrounded by people that are the same old, same old that would do DACA without any deal and he has a whimsical nature. On the other, if there’s one thing we know about Donald Trump, it’s that he likes to win at any cost. So he has to know the fire he’s playing with on this.
Most of this was predicted a year and a half ago in Stumped. If you want to know what might happen with a DACA deal, you’ll get a leg up by reading it.