● Point One: The Republicans have a serious problem with illegal immigration. Our side has been so openly angry and offensive on the issue that we’ve basically lost all but the most hard-core right-wing Hispanics in the country. We even lost the Cubans.
● Point Two: One of the oldest rules of tactics is that when the other side is self-destructing, you let them. . . or you help them along. Obama has followed this perfectly until now. Indeed, he has largely stayed out of the immigration debate during his entire time in office except to poke conservatives with a stick. Conservatives have responded like Pavlov’s dogs and foamed at the mouth on command.
So far so good.
● Point Three: Then came Rubio. Marco Rubio figured out the problem with this and he proposed a way to fix this problem. He’s proposing a GOP-created path to citizenship which would undermine the idea that the Republicans are a bunch of racists and would, in a single stroke, end the issue so that conservatives stop reopening the wound day after day. This could actually go a long way to repairing the damage done by conservatives.
Ok, now it gets tricky.
● Point Four: The proper response by Obama should have been to claim Rubio’s bill and shove him aside so the Democrats could continue to claim the issue. Angry conservatives would then do the rest to reinforce the idea that Hispanics should always vote for the Democrats by tearing Rubio apart.
BUT that’s not how this is playing out. To the contrary, Obama has walked away from Rubio’s bill. He’s taken a few shots behind the scenes and offered vague imaginary counter-proposals, but by and large he’s abandoned the issue to Rubio. The MSM too has focused on Rubio’s bill as “the bill.” They have even run articles about how this is Rubio’s bill (and a Republican idea) and they criticized the bill for not being “tough enough.” This is very strange. Hispanic groups too have actually spoken about GOP “gains.” Because of these choices, this bill belongs to Rubio and the Republicans in the mind of the public. They are seen as the creators of the bill. They are seen as the people who need to make this happen. They are seen pushing this bill voluntarily and without Democratic support. That means they get the credit/blame, an opinion confirmed by the Hispanic groups talking about “gains.”
This is all very interesting.
Indeed, until now, the two ways the immigration debate seemed destined to play out was either (1) an amnesty gets passed over the GOP’s angry objections and Hispanics get permanently alienated (just like blacks were permanently alienated after GOP opposition to the Civil Rights Act) with no chance for the GOP to ever mend fences, or (2) the GOP continues to stand in the way of amnesty, alienating Hispanics until the issue finally gets resolved one way or another. But the Rubio effort, and the response by the left, has actually created an entirely new scenario, one in which the GOP gets full credit with Hispanics and essentially redeems itself. That could be a massive victory for the GOP and it’s not something I would have seen as possible until now.
But I’m left scratching my head as to why this is happening. Why would the Democrats play it this way? They are normally smarter than this. Then it hit me.
As I’ve said before, the Democrats are a collection of single issue groups held together by their common desire to get their stuff. But this type of structure is unstable because once a group gets what they want, they have no reason to stick around because they have no inherent loyalty to the rest of the party and there is no ideology for them to latch onto. Thus, the party cannot grant the groups what they want or the collective will collapse as a party.
This puts the Democrats in a bind. They love the immigration issue because it gives them a chance to frame the Republicans as racist and because it lets them use the promise of amnesty to win Hispanics by a 70% margin. But if they actually grant amnesty, then Hispanics have no reason to stick around anymore and they could fall back to the 20% margin they had in the 1980s and 1990s. That would mean a loss of about twice as many Hispanic votes as the Democrats would gain even if every single illegal alien started voting Democratic out of gratitude. That’s not good for the Democrats.
What this means is that the Democrats don’t actually want this thing to pass. BUT, they also can’t be seen to be opposing it or sabotaging it, because that would alienate Hispanic groups who would happily switch sides if the GOP embraced them. This creates a real dilemma for the Democrats: how do you stop something you can’t actively oppose?
I think the answer can be found in Obama’s behavior. By not embracing the bill and by promising an alternate bill which will never arrive, he keeps the Democrats from needing to support this bill for the moment. That gives them time to let conservatives destroy Rubio and his bill. To encourage them, Obama and the MSM have begun this campaign of attacking the Rubio bill for not being tough enough. The hope is that conservatives rise up and destroy Rubio. Then Obama can claim that if the Republicans won’t even pass Rubio’s bill, then there’s no hope for his bill either... “too bad, so sad, keep voting for us and maybe someday you’ll get what you want, senor.” This explains the articles about the bill being too free with citizenship, why Obama seems to be bidding to the right of Rubio on the issue, and why the Democrats seem to be dragging their feet suddenly: they’re baiting conservatives to do their dirty work for them. Indeed, I suspect that right now, the White House is thinking: “Crap! They might get this done and then we’ll lose our issue! Where the hell are those whiny conservatives when you need them!”
These are interesting times indeed.