PBS NEWSHOUR: Syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks join Judy Woodruff to discuss the week's news, including the government shutdown showdown and the battle over an immigration deal, and how it will stick with voters on Election Day, plus what voters are thinking at the first anniversary of President Trump taking office.
Brooks complained that Republicans used to have debates about the size of government or war and peace but "immigration is now one of the central issues in American life" under their rule. He called it "ruinous for the party" to cut immigration by 50 percent.
Brooks, the self-described conservative columnist at the NYT, claimed that it is the Republicans who want to hold up the government over a bunch of "illegal Americans." He lamented that Republicans are "going to hang their hat on a country that's rapidly diversifying" by not accepting the fact.
However, Brooks did say what a party's posture on immigration will matter in the 2018 midterm elections, though it will not bode well for the GOP.
"In the medium term, 2018, if it matters in 2018 — and I think the parties’ basic posture on immigration will matter," he said.
"If you’re a red state senator trying to hold onto your seat, this is a bad posture for you. It’s just not good," Brooks added.
"In the longer term, of course, if the Republicans maintain the party, not only of Donald Trump, but they turn into the party of Tom Cotton, who wants to cut legal immigration by 50 percent, then that to me is ruinous for the party," Brooks said.
Brooks, advising the Democrats, said the tide is swinging their direction and they can only mess up the 2018 midterms by making it a "base election."
"If they make their voters in New York, and San Francisco and L.A. super happy but make the voters in Indiana and Tennessee and Missouri super unhappy," he concluded.
Brooks said Democrats will have to take the brunt of the damage of government "obsolescence" because they are "the party of government." He said the "discrediting of government" lies at the feet of the Republican party because as people became more disgusted with it they were the group that used it "reasonably well" politically.
Brooks predicted a "slow erosion" for Trump as support from his base is dropping, citing a poll that showed "FOX News voters" are "less pro-Trump than they were." He called it a steady "drip, drip, drip."
"I cited on the show several weeks ago the FOX News voters are less pro-Trump than they were. I saw a poll today. Among white evangelicals dropped — support — favorability for Trump has dropped 17 percent, from 83 percent, down 17 percent," the New York Times opinion columnist said.
"So that an erosion," he said. "Nobody likes their own party very much, but they really hate the other party. So that inhibits it. But we’re seeing just a steady, slow drip, drip, drip."
Going back to 2018 predictions, Brooks said this is an "identity era" -- Democrats will pin racism on Trump and Republicans will make the election about "American identity vs. the aliens."
"I do think the fact that we’re focusing on race, that the Democrats have said, we can pin Trump racism, that’s what we’re going to run on, and the Republicans have said, we’re going to pin American identity vs. the aliens, that’s what we’re going to run on, it shows what a different era this is," he said.
Brooks said that in this era even something like a government shutdown revolves around issues like race.
"It’s not a normal economic era. It’s not a peace and war era. It’s an identity era. And even something as silly as a government shutdown revolves around fundamental issues of race and identity," Brooks declared.