The Lose – Lose Wall Negotiation

It’s all about delaying to 2020

A lose-lose negotiation is traditionally defined as one where all parties end up being worse off. When I took my first negotiating course, lose-lose was described as the definition of insanity. After all, why would anyone drive a negotiation to where they’ll be worse off at the end and why would the other party accept it?

The funny thing is that lose-lose is now considered an acceptable and sometimes preferable means of negotiation — for instance, there’s this article in Inc.

The [third] secret to a successful negotiation is to find the best lose-lose scenario. What I mean by this is that it can be very difficult to find solutions where both parties in a negotiation “win.” However, if you approach the deal with an eye on finding a solution where each party just “loses” a little, you can often find a healthy compromise that truly ends in a fair deal. After all, wouldn’t both parties be happy getting 90% of what they wanted versus 0% if you couldn’t strike the deal in the first place?

It used to be we would have called this “win-win” because no one expects to win everything in a negotiation. In fact, the traditional way of negotiating win-win is to ask for something big realizing that you’ll wind up giving away minor issues to get what you really believe is important.

This brings us to the notion that people negotiate in their own self interest and here’s where the negotiation between the president and the congress is very different than a personal or business negotiation. In this negotiation neither party personally benefits or personally loses from the results of the outcome except in the context of whether the result helps them get re-elected.

Oh, sure, there’s probably a bit of “doing the right thing for the country” but if there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years is that people can justify anything. The penultimate example are the Democrats who know in their heart of hearts that strong border security is essential but are willing to throw it all out because “Orange Man Bad.”

President Trump might have well believed that Chuck and Nancy would come to the table when the effects of the shutdown started to affect real people. If so, he was wrong. In fact, Chuck and Nancy have only one motivation in negotiating with President Trump which is stop anything he might propose and delay anything they can’t stop until 2020. They are completely ready and able to lose any potential good for the country and if some people get hurt along the way, that’s OK as well.

Of course, the media plays into this by portraying Chuck and Nancy as the good guys who are fighting for the American worker in all of this. The president concluded that air safety was being compromised and he had to act. On the other hand, Chuck and Nancy are perfectly happy to allow it to happen and maybe a near miss or two would actually help their cause. If, God forbid, a crash were to occur due to an air traffic control error, I think we can safely say that 100% of the blame would be laid at the feet of President Trump.

You might have thought that the President’s offer to revive and extend DACA protections would get some traction. Chuck and Nancy are more than willing to throw DACA recipients under the bus and the media certainly seems to think that’s just fine as well. There also seems to be an absence of Hispanics taking to the streets to demand that Chuck and Nancy represent their interests in any negotiation.

In “OMAHA! Bush 2005! Social Security! Left, Wall! HUT HUT.” , I pondered how a game changer offer from President Trump might start a negotiation by being so compelling that Chuck and Nancy might have to give it a look. I think the shutdown has pretty much taken this off the table since Chuck and Nancy will simply refuse to negotiate at all now. Again, part of the reason is that they only have to delay about a year before we’re well into the 2020 election cycle at which point they can offer anything Trump might have to offer as their own promise once a Democrat is elected.

Is there the possibility of a negotiated solution here? I no longer believe so.

Fundamentally, this leaves us with only one option which is the National Emergency declaration for which, no doubt, dozens of Democrat lawyers are already preparing briefs to stop or delay. Whether they’re successful is another question but certainly whoever is the Democrat candidate will promise to cancel the declaration when they are elected.

Mark Rosneck

Written by Mark Rosneck

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