Self-Made Messes Don’t Make for Good-Faith Negotiations

Apparently “The Art of the Deal” is creating a problem, then offering to fix it in exchange for getting what you want.

It’s hard to be certain without reading the book – not about to – but the actions of President Donald Trump lately make it a fair assumption.

Trump has offered to address certain problems to get the $5.7 billion he wants for his wall on the United States-Mexico border. There’s just one problem with that – he caused them in the first place.

A couple of weeks ago Trump proclaimed there was a “humanitarian crisis” at our southern border. But this crisis was caused by the Trump administration beginning in April 2018, when it announced a “zero-tolerance policy” on illegal immigration and began holding adults for prosecution, no exceptions.

Since the Justice Department cannot prosecute children who come across, officials have been separating them from parents or guardians.

Many have been shipped to facilities thousands of miles away from the adults they know and trust, often for months. Some have been held in fenced-in cubicles, what might reasonably be called cages. There also have been reports of deplorable living conditions and sexual assaults.

Then, in December, a 7-year-old Guatemalan girl died at the border. Days later an 8-year-old Guatemalan boy died. Both were in U.S. custody.

That constitutes a humanitarian crisis, certainly. But Trump could resolve it quickly by removing his inhumane policy, which is doing little to deter people who are trying to escape dire situations in their own countries by coming to The States, anyway.

With an emergency declaration, Trump would be free to move money out of the Department of Defense budget to address the situation. Which means he would have his $5.7 billion without Congressional approval.

One can’t create a problem then offer to fix it in return for what you want. Or he shouldn’t be allowed to, at least.

Honorable people don’t do that kind of thing.

Disingenuous is a word that comes to mind. Manipulative is another. Whatever adjective you throw out, it’s not the way good-faith negotiations work.

It’s not even adult behavior, but the equivalent of a bully stealing someone’s calculator on the playground and offering to return it if they give up their lunch money.

To use Trump’s own labeling system, it’s “Fake Compromise.”

Apparently the self-proclaimed “very stable genius” realized he wasn’t going to be able to use a self-proclaimed crisis to justify going against the will of the majority of Americans.

But just over a week later, Trump went back to the same well. This time he tried to use DREAMers and other undocumented immigrants.

DREAM is an acronym for Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors. DREAMers have been living in the United States under an Obama-era program called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which protected kids brought here illegally from being deported. Trump announced the phase-out of DACA in 2017.

This week, with the lives of 800,000 federal employees in limbo, Trump offered to extend DACA protections, temporarily, in exchange for his $5.7 billion and reopening the government.

In D.C. parlance, that’s a non-starter.

If Trump wants his lunch money, he needs to stop manufacturing crises and negotiate in good faith.

Make the mess, clean up the mess. And don’t expect special dispensation for doing it.

Tony Schwartz, the co-author of Trump’s “Art of the Deal,” said, “…most of the deals discussed in the book ‘were failures”’ and the deals ‘since then have overwhelmingly been failures.’” – MSNBC

All in all you were all just bricks in the wall.” – Pink Floyd

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© 2019 Martin C. Fredricks IV

Martin C. Fredricks IV

Martin C. “Red” Fredricks IV here. I’m husband to an amazing woman who is also my best friend, dad to three outstanding kids, Fargoan (North Dakota, that is), proud introvert, veteran messaging strategist/copywriter, blogger ( nonprofit founder ( and big-time reader. As they say, if you're gonna write good stuff, you have to read good stuff. A ginger, too - ergo the "Red" - although some of it's going white. Cinnamon-Sugar, I call it. Tattooed to boot; seven so far. At age 54, I'm stilling crankin' AC/DC & Metallica, but now and again I spin some Eric Church and Black Uhuru, too. I love hanging out with my (much) better half, spending time with our kids, writing, hiking, riding my mountain bike and reading.


Al Coen · January 25, 2019 at 6:18 am

I think your writings are thought provoking, factually correct, and inspiring. Keep up the good work.

    Martin C. Fredricks IV · January 25, 2019 at 6:47 am

    Thanks, Al!

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