"Do or Do not. There is no try."

“A Finger In The Eye Of Hispanic Voters”: House GOP Dream Act Deferral Vote Is Political Insanity

Honestly, when I saw that House Republicans had passed an amendment today which would defund President Obama’s limited, executive-order-driven Dream Act, my first thought was to wonder what the GOP is thinking. Does this party have a death wish?

This isn’t the political equivalent of rocket science. Hispanics voted overwhelmingly to support Obama last year. And given demographic trends regarding the share of the electorate they’re going to make up in coming years, neither party can afford to become noncompetitive with these voters. It’s a matter of political survival. And many Republicans know this – see the Republican National Committee’s 2012 post-mortem, for example, or the College Republicans’ recent version.

Immigration is not the number one issue for Hispanic voters, but it is a gateway issue and one that gets to tone and outlook. If voters think a party is hostile to and/or distrustful of them, they’re going to tune that party out. So rational Republicans (not to mention a whole lot of their corporate backers) want to get immigration reform done.

But today’s GOP – especially its House denizens – aren’t about rationality. So they cast the vote they did today. And it’s not an isolated occurrence. The Atlantic’s Garance Franke-Ruta looks at how the GOP is trying to blow its 2016 chances:

House Republicans walking away from comprehensive immigration reform. Tying a path to citizenship to continued second-class standing on access to health insurance. Voting to resume deporting undocumented immigrants brought here as children, a year after President Obama issued an executive order instructing the Department of Homeland Security to use discretion and make such deportations a low priority.

And this isn’t simply bad policy or stumbling into bad politics. This is going out of their way to charge into bad politics. It’s not like there’s any chance this amendment becomes law. So why make a point of voting for it?

I was at a press breakfast yesterday with Rep. Tom Price, the Georgia Republican who is vice chairman of the House Budget Committee, and he was asked about whether the GOP would suffer politically if it is blamed for killing immigration reform this year. Price, who favors the House GOP’s official approach of going piecemeal on immigration reform rather than trying to tackle it comprehensively, made a couple of enlightening comments.

First, he said that “I think what the American people want is to see individuals working to solve challenges.” I tend to think that what the American people actually want is to see their elected representatives actually solving challenges rather than simply trying – this isn’t kindergarten: You don’t get points for trying really hard; you get points for getting stuff done.

The second thing he said was that legislation with a path to citizenship or a path to legal status wouldn’t pass the House with a majority of Republican votes because the GOP doesn’t trust “the administration to enforce the current laws that are on the books as they relate to much of immigration.” But he then went on to conflate the views of his party and its base with the broader electorate: “The American people don’t trust Washington in this area because the promise that was made in 1986 has been broken,” he said, referring to the deal President Ronald Reagan signed which provided amnesty for illegal immigrants back then in exchange for promises of border security. “There’s no trust at all. The first step in regaining that trust is living up to the promise that was made to the nation back in 1986 and that is controlling and securing the border.”

Two points. First, the border is far more secure than it has been. Second, if mistrust of Washington was as widespread as Price seems to suppose, polls would show deep opposition to both comprehensive immigration reform and a way for currently illegal immigrants to gain citizenship, but poll after poll shows otherwise. A recent poll conducted for Bloomberg showed that 74 percent of adults favor “Allowing immigrants living in the country illegally to become citizens, provided they don’t have criminal records, they pay fines and back taxes, and they wait more than 10 years.” That’s hardly angry mistrust of Washington regarding immigration.

The problem is that House Republicans either confuse their base’s wishes or simply don’t want to cross them. Either way, they’re voting themselves a path to oblivion.


By: Robert Schlesinger, U. S. News and World Report, June 7, 2013

June 8, 2013 Posted by | Immigration Reform | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Dishonest Introspection”: Mitt Romney’s Sneering Farewell To The “47 Percent”

Trying to explain away his decisive, sweeping, and very expensive rout to his disappointed supporters—those one-percent Republicans—Mitt Romney offered a new version of the discredited “47 percent” argument that was so ruinous in its original form. In a Wednesday afternoon conference call, the defeated Republican nominee told donors and fundraisers that President Obama had won by lavishing generous “gifts” upon certain groups, including young voters, African-Americans, and Latinos.

“With regards to the young people, for instance, a forgiveness of college loan interest was a big gift,” said Romney, after apologizing for losing what he called a “very close” election that he lost by more than 100 electoral votes and no less than three percent of the popular vote (as indicated in “The Ass-Whuppin’ Cometh” by James Carville and Stan Greenberg).

“Free contraceptives were very big with young, college-aged women. And then, finally, Obamacare also made a difference for them, because as you know, anybody now 26 years of age and younger was now going to be part of their parents’ plan, and that was a big gift to young people. They turned out in large numbers, a larger share in this election even than in 2008… Likewise with Hispanic voters, free health care was a big plus. But in addition with regards to Hispanic voters, the amnesty for children of illegals, the so-called Dream Act kids, was a huge plus for that voting group.”

It’s amusing that at this late date, the Republican who distanced himself from health care reform — and constantly vowed to repeal the Affordable Care Act even though he knew that would be bad policy — claims that Obamacare helped Obama to win.

Now, before dispensing with Romney for good — as most Americans (including many Republicans) are understandably eager to do — it is worth noting that these churlish excuses to his donors represent the ultimate falsification, not only of his campaign, but of his own character.

Recall how he disowned the “47 percent” remarks when he realized how damaging they were to his chances for victory, telling Sean Hannity on Fox News that what he had been caught saying at a $50,000-a-plate Boca Raton fundraising event was “just completely wrong.” That mea culpa was factually accurate, of course – as we have discovered again lately with the news that so many food stamp recipients reliably vote Republican.

But as a matter of feelings rather than facts, Romney evidently cannot stop himself from sneering at society’s struggling people and the politicians who seek to improve their lives. It is not as if the donors he was addressing don’t want “gifts” from government – such as the big new tax breaks that Romney had promised them, the huge increases in defense spending that would swell their profits, or the various individual corporate favors that they regard as their very own “entitlements.” Just don’t expect that kind of honest introspection from Romney or his crowd.


By: Joe Conason, The National Memo, November 15, 2012

November 16, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“We Don’t Like You Either”: When “We Don’t Like Your Kind” Becomes A Problem

There are a lot of ways to parse a loss like the one the GOP suffered on Tuesday, but what ought to be increasingly clear to smart Republicans is that there’s something fundamentally problematic in how they’ve gone about assembling their electoral coalitions. Conservatives are complaining a lot in the last couple of days that Obama ran a “divisive” campaign, I guess because he once called rich people “fat cats” or something, but the truth is that Republicans have been experts at division for a long time. Much of their appeal, at one level or another, has been “We don’t like those kind of people.” Sometimes it’s welfare recipients, sometimes it’s undocumented immigrants, sometimes it’s people who come from big cities or have too much education or enjoy a coffee drink made with espresso and steamed milk. They’ve been very good for a very long time at telling voters, “We’re just like you, because we both hate those people over there.”

As a political strategy, this can be very effective, so long as the “them” at whom you’re directing your contempt isn’t too large a group. But once “them” grows too big, you’ve dug yourself an electoral hole. That’s the problem they now have with Latinos. Their anti-immigrant rhetoric sent two simultaneous messages, one about policy and one about identity. The first message was that we don’t support policies you do support, like the DREAM Act. The second message, which Latinos heard loud and clear, was this: We don’t like people like you.

The problem can be seen in other areas too. As Sommer Mathis and Charles Mahtesian point out, the GOP is getting crushed among urban dwellers, who are growing as a proportion of the population. Just like with Latinos, this happens because of both policy and identity. The GOP is opposed to policies that are supported by people in cities, like support for mass transit. But they also continuously tell them that they don’t like them. Every time they wax rhapsodic about the superior morality of those who live in small towns (what Sarah Palin memorably called “the pro-America areas of this great nation”), where people supposedly have “values,” while people who live in cities just have opinions, they are telling voters in cities, “We don’t like people like you.” So it’s no surprise that those voters respond, “You know what? We don’t like you either.”

If Republicans are going to solve this problem—with Latinos, with city dwellers, and with everybody else they’ve alienated—they’re going to have to it with both policy and identity. It won’t be enough to sign on to a comprehensive immigration reform. You have to convince the people at whom you’ve been sneering (or trying to stop from voting) that you don’t hate them. It’s not an easy task, but it can be done.


By: Paul Waldman, Contributing Editor, The American Prospect, November 9, 2012

November 12, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“A Word To The Not So Wise”: You Come At The King, You Best Not Miss

If you want a sense of how remarkable Barack Obama’s re-election victory is, think back to last summer. At the time, the president was struggling to reach a deal with House Republicans, who were threatening not to raise the debt ceiling and plunge the economy into a second recession. Unemployment was high—9.2 percent—Obama’s approval had dipped to the low 40s, and to anyone paying attention, the first African American president looked like a one-term failure.

But beginning in the fall, Obama began to reassert himself. With the American Jobs Act, he outlined a viable plan for generating economic growth and kick-starting the recovery. With his widely praised speech in Kansas, he outlined a populist agenda of greater investment and higher taxes on the wealthiest Americans. Over the course of 2012, he built good will with important communities, from LGBT Americans with an endorsement of same-sex marriage to Latino immigrants and their families with a measure meant to emulate the DREAM Act. What’s more, the economy began to pick up: Job growth increased, unemployment dropped, and the overall economic picture began to brighten.

Together with one of the most hard-nosed campaigns of recent memory, Obama managed to bounce back from the nadir of 2011 to one of the broadest re-election victories since Reagan’s 1984 landslide. At this point, news networks have called New Hampshire, Iowa, Wisconsin, Colorado, Nevada, Virginia, and Ohio for President Obama. Only Florida has yet to be called, where the remaining votes are in traditionally Democratic areas of the state. Compared with 2008, Obama lost only two states: North Carolina and Indiana. When all is said and done, Barack Obama will have won re-election with 332 electoral votes—a much larger margin than the last president to win re-election, George W. Bush

Over the next week, I’ll write about the details of Obama’s victory, in particular his huge advantage with nonwhite voters—without historic margins (and turnout) among African Americans, Latinos, and Asian Americans, it’s likely Obama would have failed in his quest for a second term. Indeed, it should be said that Republicans have themselves to blame for a good deal of this. If not for their categorical opposition to health-care reform, the Affordable Care Act would have never been passed in its current form. If not for their harsh approach to immigration, they might have won greater Latino support over the last four years. If not for their embrace of misogyny, they might have closed the gender gap. If not for their willingness to indulge the worst conspiracies about Obama, they might have made inroads with young people and college-educated voters.

In the meantime, it’s worth noting what Obama’s victory means for the next four years of public policy.

Obamacare will be implemented in full, and the United States will begin its journey toward universal health-care coverage. Millions of Americans will be covered by the bill’s Medicaid expansion, and millions more will—for the first time—have access to affordable health insurance. Likewise, Dodd-Frank will survive, and the federal government will begin to craft regulations that will—with any luck—prevent a repeat of the 2008 financial collapse. Obama’s re-election shields core liberal commitments—on social insurance, anti-poverty policy, and environmental regulation—from conservative assault, and gives Democrats a chance to reshape the Supreme Court and the federal judiciary writ large.

Thanks to last night’s results, liberals have four years to cement a host of policies and achievements that could prove as transformative as the Great Society or even the New Deal. And this is on top of an economic recovery that will almost certainly boost Democrats’ standing with the public.

It’s still far too early to make a judgment about Barack Obama’s overall historical standing. But by virtue of winning re-election, he has become the most successful Democratic president since Lyndon Johnson, and one of the most successful of the 21st century.

Not bad for the skinny Hawaiian kid with a funny name.


By: Jamelle Bouie, The American Prospect, November 7, 2012

November 8, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“An Imaginary America Of The Past”: The GOP Pays The Big Price For Bashing Latinos

At last, bipartisan agreement! You don’t need a degree in political science to know this: demonizing and alienating the fastest-growing group in the country is no way to build long-term political success. Pair that with the fact that demonizing any group of Americans is un-American and just plain wrong. But in recent years, Republicans, and especially party standard-bearer Mitt Romney, just haven’t been able to help themselves. In an effort to win over a shrinking and increasingly extreme base, Romney and team have sold their souls to get the Republican presidential nomination. And they went so far to do it that even their famous etch-a-sketch won’t be able to erase their positions.

As Mitt Romney knows, the slipping support of the GOP among Latinos is no mystery. We’ve seen this movie before, in 1994, when Republican California Gov. Pete Wilson pushed anti-immigrant smears to promote California’s anti-immigrant Prop. 187, which in turn buoyed his own tough reelection campaign. It worked in the short term — both the ballot measure and Gov. Wilson won handily — but what a long term price to pay as California became solidly blue for the foreseeable future.

We’re now seeing what happened in California at a national scale. Harsh anti-immigrant rhetoric helped Romney win the Republican primary. But in the general election, it may well be his downfall.

In case you tuned out Romney’s appeals to the anti-immigrant right during the primaries, here’s a quick recap. He ran ads specifically criticizing Sonia Sotomayor, the first Latina Supreme Court justice. He says he’d veto the DREAM Act, a rare immigration provision with overwhelming bipartisan support. He took on anti-immigrant leader Kris Kobach, architect of the draconian anti-immigrant measures in Arizona and Alabama as an adviser, then said his immigration plan was to force undocumented immigrants to “self-deport.” He even endorsed Iowa Rep. Steve King, who suggested building an electric fence at the Mexican border, comparing immigrants to “livestock” and “dogs.” Romney’s new attempts to appeal to Latino voters are clearly empty — he’s already promised the right that he will use their anti-immigrant rhetoric whenever it’s convenient and shut down any reasonable attempts at immigration reform.

If President Obama wins reelection, however, we have a real chance for real immigration reform. He told the Des Moines Register last week that if reelected he will work to achieve immigration reform next year. Beyond incremental steps like his institution of part of the DREAM Act by executive order, real comprehensive immigration reform would finally ease the uncertainty of millions of immigrants and the businesses that hire them. It’s something that George W. Bush and John McCain wanted before it was thwarted by extremists in their own party. It’s something that Mitt Romney clearly won’t even try.

If President Obama wins, and especially when he wins with the help of Latino voters turned off by the GOP’s anti-immigrant politics, he will have a strong mandate to create clear and lasting immigration reform. And Republicans will have to think twice before hitching their futures on the politics of demonization and exclusion. Whereas George W. Bush won 44 percent of the Latino vote in 2004 and John McCain 31 percent in 2008, Mitt Romney is polling at just 21 percent among Latinos. That’s no coincidence.

My group, People For the American Way, has been working to make sure that the GOP’s anti-Latino policies and rhetoric are front and center during the presidential election. We’re running a comprehensive campaign aimed at the large Latino populations in Nevada and Colorado and the rapidly growing Latino populations in Iowa, Wisconsin, Virginia and North Carolina. In each of those states, we’re strategically targeting Latino voters with TV and radio ads, direct mail, Internet ads and phone banking to make sure they hear the GOP’s message about their community. In Colorado, we’re going up against Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS, which knows just as well as Romney that the loss of Latino voters “spells doom” for Republicans. In all of these states, higher turnout among Latinos motivated by Mitt Romney’s attacks could swing critical electoral votes.

This is a battle where the right thing to do and the politically smart thing to do are one and the same. Republicans have embraced racially-charged attacks against Latinos, pushed English-only laws, attempted to legalize racial profiling by immigration enforcement, dehumanized immigrants and even attacked the first Latina Supreme Court justice for talking about her heritage. They deserve to lose the votes of Latinos and others for it. This presidential election is a choice between right-wing scare tactics — the last resort of those fighting to return to an imaginary America of the past — and policies that embrace and celebrate our growing Latino population as an integral part of what is the real America.

By: Michael B, Keegan, President, People for the American Way, The Huffington Post, October 30, 201

October 31, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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