Trump just handed Democrats a weapon to use against him

Bradley Tusk, political strategist
.S. Senator Chuck Schumer addresses the crowd during a protest against President Donald Trump's travel ban, in New York City, U.S. January 29, 2017.
Stephanie Keith | Reuters

For the vast majority of Democrats, there's little to like about Trump's immigration ban. But beyond the traditional actions of protesting, rallying and filing lawsuits, there are also several ways to leverage the surge of opposition to the ban to their advantage (and with all of the fights coming up, they're going to need it.)

  1. Make this a wedge issue for the Supreme Court nomination. Trump said he's announcing his Supreme Court nominee on Tuesday. Perfect timing. Does the nominee support the ban? Would he rule to keep it or overturn it? If he won't say, what is he hiding? If he would preserve the ban, that puts him on the wrong side of the issue, which only helps the Democrats' filibuster effort. If he would overturn it, he's defying the President who just nominated him. It's a win for the Democrats either way.
  2. Make this a wedge issue for the 2018 midterms. This is a problematic issue for Republican elected officials from swing districts, all of whose seats will be in play in two years. Getting every member of the House and Senate on the record now either provides a weapon to use in the next election or provides Republican ammunition to use against their own President. Both are
  3. Build a base for other fights. This issue is generating a tremendous amount of attention because it resonates emotionally with so many people. Most policy issues do not. But as Democrats gear up to fight Trump on ACA reform, budget cuts, tax reform and so many other issues, using this issue as a way to frame everything else they're fighting for could be incredibly helpful (not just collecting names and email addresses but weaving this issue into a larger narrative).
  4. Double down on sanctuary cities. The concept of a sanctuary city has been confusing to most people. Until now. Before Trump's immigration ban, Mayors were struggling with how and whether to comply with federal rules on immigration and deportation. Not anymore. People now get it. And for Democratic mayors (or any mayors), there's now no reason not to move forward.

Would most Democrats trade all of the opportunities above to not have to revoke our nation's most shameful immigration policy since FDR turned away the Voyage of St. Louis, the ship carrying more than 900 Jews fleeing Nazi Germany? Absolutely. But Trump isn't backing down -- and he's not going to until his position on immigration starts to hamstring him on issues across the board. This past weekend's rallies, protests and lawsuits were all great steps. Now let's go even further.

Commentary by Bradley Tusk who leads political advisory firm Tusk Strategies. Bradley served as Mike Bloomberg's campaign manager, guiding Mayor Bloomberg to a third term. In 2016 he advised Bloomberg on a potential presidential run. His career in the public sector began at the New York City Parks Department in 1995, acting as spokesman and then senior advisor to Commissioner Henry Stern. Bradley then served as communications director for U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer. From 2003-2006, Bradley was Deputy Governor of Illinois. Follow him on Twitter @BradleyTusk.

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