In response to Ross Douthat’s warnings about the potential fallout of President Obama’s rumored plan to grant executive amnesty to as many as half of the country’s unauthorized immigrants, Richard Yeselson argues on twitter that Obama’s actions might be “derivative” of “polarized hyper partisan parties w/separation of powers”.
If the problem is hyper-partisan parties combined with separation of parties, why didn’t President Obama’s party enact President Obama’s favored immigration policies during that part of Obama’s term when the Democrats had supermajorities in both houses of Congress? If the problem is the dysfunction of Congress rather than public opposition to the policies President Obama prefers, do the president’s partisans expect the ranks of Obama’s congressional opponents to grow or shrink as a result of the November election?
Whatever the alleged defects of our constitutional system or our political culture, the immediate controversy is the result not of structures, but of a hyper-partisan president who seeks to further embitter our politics. Structural analysis enables the president’s behavior (by shifting responsibility), but it does not explain why President Obama is contemplating this particular course of executive action at this particular point in time.