Cartoonist and commentator Scott Adams, who recently published a book on the art of persuasion titled “Win Bigly” described Trump’s negotiating techniques in response to the news that he may have negotiated a deal with top Democrats over the so-called DREAMers who benefit from DACA and border security. He has written several books on the art of persuasion. He also predicted that Donald Trump would win the presidential election in 2016.

Summarizing, Adams wrote that Trump described border security, which is a concept, as a concrete object when he used the visually expressive word “wall.” Adams wrote, “Our visual sense is our most persuasive path for influence. It would be weak persuasion to talk about border security as a concept without a visual.”

Because of the complexity of the border control issue, Adams argued that a simple message such as “build a wall” will “beat complicated (but accurate) conceptual arguments.”

“President Trump,” Adams wrote, “doesn’t get too specific about the type of wall he wants. He lets us see the wall that makes the most sense to us.” Adams referred to the evening meeting on Wednesday that Trump held with Democrats concerning immigration and border security.

“We see the same strategic ambiguity after his famous dinner ‘agreement’ with [House Minority Leader Nancy] Pelosi and [Senate Minority Leader Charles] Schumer. The Democratic leaders got to announce ‘no wall’ while the President says ‘yes wall.’ The reality is that both sides agree on spending for border improvements, some of which will undoubtedly be wall-ish sometime in the next few years. We citizens get to pick which version of reality we like best: wall or no wall. The ambiguity supports both views. And it is intentional.” Adams pointed out that Trump issued an exaggerated demand during his campaign for deporting all illegal aliens, thus giving himself “plenty of room to negotiate toward a reasonable center, such as allowing DACA folks to stay.”

A literal 'wall' is not a practical idea

Likewise, Adams said that while Trump has demanded a “wall” along the US/Mexico border, the president once said that this is not a practical idea. However, Adams said that Trump “wisely didn’t emphasize the full range of solutions for the border. Now it will seem totally reasonable to build a solid wall wherever border security is most problematic, so long as it is not extended to the entire border.”

Adams said that if the initial reports from Trump, Pelosi and Schumer are accurate, that there will be a deal for improved border security in exchange for allowing DACA beneficiaries to remain in America. “But realistically,” Adams wrote, “the DACA folks couldn’t have been rounded up and deported without a civil war. So President Trump traded an imaginary asset (the idea of deporting the DACA folks) for something potentially real in terms of greater border security funding.”

What Trump did during the campaign, Adams theorizes, is that he “paced” (matched) his base constituency on immigration issues until he won the election. Because the base trusts that he is “philosophically aligned with them,” Adams wrote, they will let him lead to a practical and doable goal because they trust him on the topic. “That group is likely to trust him when he says some form of ‘This is the best we can do for now.’” By tweeting that some DACA beneficiaries serve in the military, Adams wrote, Trump took the argument over the status of DACA beneficiaries “out of the weeds” (the debate over how to handle DACA). Because of the status enjoyed by the military, Trump’s reference to the military is a “high ground play.”

Therefore, Adams wrote, “President Trump is committing to keeping the DACA folks in this country. He just doesn’t want to say it until he gets his budget for border security.” Adams, wrote: “He just doesn’t want to say it until he gets his budget for border security.”

Hazarding a prediction, Adams wrote:

“Likewise, at some point soon President Trump will pivot from ‘the wall everywhere’ to ‘effective border control.’ Effective border control, and the job improvement for Americans that might come with it, are the high ground. The details of how to do it are the weeds.”



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Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat and the editor of Spero News.

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