I think the Times' David Leonhardt is on target here, both strategically and tactically.
The shutdown is different, and more complicated [than previous Democratic pushbacks, such as the battle over health care reform]. It’s more complicated because it has turned into a mini- culture war over immigration.
A culture war over immigration replays the racialized debate that dominated the 2016 presidential campaign. As much as it saddens me to say it, the evidence is pretty clear that a racialized debate helps Trump. It’s the kind of debate that will make it harder for Democrats to retake the Senate and House this year….
The smart move now for Democrats is to accept a short-term funding bill that ends the shutdown and diffuses the tension…. That solution feels a bit unsatisfying, I know. But tactical retreats can lead to big victories in the future.
This shutdown battle has already gone on too long, and it should not have been waged to begin with. Aside from shutdowns being egregious violations of good governance (which should have remained a Republican characteristic alone), the Dems just aren't as good as Republicans at this sort of bullying politics. This, in part but also on whole, is because of Democrats' more reasonable base, which has a tempering influence on party leadership. But the way to compensate is not to convert the Democratic base into some godawful Republican doppelgänger. Let them, the other side, be animals. The Dems should wish to retain some grace and sophistication — and screw their Republican counterparts with some style.