Sunday, November 9, 2014

The Republican Delay and Obstruct Con Game and Why Obama Should Ignore It

The conventional wisdom in Washington is that Barack Obama would be making a huge mistake if he signed an executive order on immigration. He should wait for the new Congress to be sworn in and let them forge their own immigration bill. To proceed forward on his own would "poison the well" and harm any chance of bipartisanship between the White House and Congressional Republicans. 

One wonders what these supposedly "wise" people are smoking. Republicans have had four years to come up with their own immigration bill. The Senate has already passed a bipartisan immigration bill that John Boehner has refused to let come to the floor of the House. Were it not for the Tea Party, the country would have immigration reform by now. How long is Obama supposed to wait for a bill that will never materialize?

Rather than wait, Obama should be prepared to proceed on his own and for the following reasons:

1. The well is already poisoned and has been ever since Obama got elected in 2008. The GOP has made it clear that their number one priority is to obstruct him at every turn. And to that end they have been very successful. Since they took the House in the 2010 midterms, Obama has been unable to get anything through this Congress. What makes anyone think that 2015 will be any different?

2. Those who insist that Obama's use of executive orders in unpopular are not reading ALL of the electorate accurately. Yes, a majority of voters don't want Obama to proceed unilaterally, but most of those voters didn't vote for him in the first place and probably didn't vote Democrat in the last election. Among the Democratic base, there is a lot of support for his executive actions. Within the Hispanic community, an overwhelming majority feel the President has been, if anything, not forceful enough.

Dana Milbank in the Washington Post noted that Obama's decision to delay action in July to help Democratic candidates in Red states was a mistake. Not only did those candidates end up losing anyway, but candidates in purple states like Charlie Crist and Mark Udall were hurt by low turnout among Latinos.

3. The real prize here isn't the next two years, but the 2016 election. With Democrats continuing to make strides with a growing demographic and the GOP pandering to a demographic which is shrinking, the goal should be how to ensure that the former doesn't defect. Obama's executive action may initially inflame some voters, but it will put Republicans into the all-too familiar position of being anti immigration reform and anti immigrant. The long game is what counts here and if Obama plays his cards right, he and his party will prevail. Giving Republicans yet more time to do nothing but delay and obstruct will, in the long run, hurt Democrats far more than the GOP.

To sum up, Democrats lost in the midterms because they ran away from who and what they were. The base felt as if it had been abandoned. The best way for Obama to make inroads and repair the damage that was done is to deliver on his promise to take action.  And sooner rather later.


Prof. Walter Jameson said...


Well, if the Democrats want to follow a plan that will lead to abject failure they will follow exactly what you've laid out here in your essay. This matter of unconditional Executive amnesty has been polled to death. It is extremely unpopular across party lines. The electorate views the issue in terms of fundamental fairness. I said it before and I'll repeat it now: The majority of the electorate is not against legal immigration. They welcome prospective citizens who have gone through the process and busted their asses to attain citizenship status. I have colleagues who have done precisely that, so I know a little something about it. What the majority is dead-set against, however, is rewarding those who have flouted the existing law with this cherished right. If you truly believe that getting into a pissing contest with the Republican party over this issue is a winner for the president and the Democratic party, when it's your side's turn, sir, there will most assuredly be a strong headwind.

Finally, you stated: "To sum up, Democrats lost in the midterms because they ran away from who and what they were. The base felt as if it had been abandoned." Well, maybe that's true. I don't know for certain, and neither do you. Another *plausible* explanation could be that it was just another typical midterm election where people were too damn lazy to get their asses to the polls, for whatever reason ..... or, perhaps, they felt that the economy is still in the toilet (for them) and they decided to take it out on the party in power. Who knows? Hmmmm, maybe Mr. Milbank knows. He has probably discussed it at length with some of the other dilettantes like Tomasky, Friedman and Remnick at one of Sally Quinn's charity balls. Conventional wisdom, indeed.

Thank you for the opportunity to respond.

Steve said...

Interesting Obama is now coming out in favor of net neutrality. When he said that, I felt an icy chill, because usually when he throws a bone to progressives with one hand, he's throwing us under the bus with the other (he wants the TPP, which is NAFTA on steroids).