The Democrats’ Giant Bet on Voters’ Short Memories
The Democrats’ plan: Hope that Latino voters love the the executive order quasi-amnesty and “middle-of-the-road” voters forget about it:
The president’s decision to use his executive powers to protect some 5 million undocumented immigrants from deportation is bound to draw a backlash from middle-of-the-road white voters. Republicans assailed Obama’s handling of immigration in the midterm elections, catering to a conservative and notably less diverse electorate with ads in states such as Arkansas and New Hampshire. Early polling shows significant suspicion of Obama’s unilateral action: An NBC/Wall Street Journal poll found 48 percent of Americans preemptively opposed to the executive actions, versus 38 percent ready to endorse them.
As a political matter, then, the president’s wager is this: that the voters with the longest memories will be those in the rapidly-growing, next-generation national electorate, heavily inflected by socially progressive young people and a growing Latino population.
Will those middle-of-the-road white voters forget? Note the concession by Politico that one doesn’t have to be an “extreme” “right-wing” “xenophobic” voter to object to this policy.
Mo Elleithee, the Democratic National Committee’s communications director, vowed that the GOP would pay a price for its heated attacks on the White House’s policy: “The rhetoric coming out will come back to haunt them. We are capturing every bit and will make them answer for it. They are not just alienating, they are offending, the [Hispanic] community.”
Republicans believe that Obama is inviting deep punishment with his actions this week. Not only does the GOP sense genuine anger among voters about the ongoing mess on the border, but party leaders say that Obama’s orders will look like pure arrogance, the brazen actions of a discredited president.
Though the GOP has struggled to assemble a viable, diverse coalition in national elections, the party is on a hot streak in large, traditionally Democratic states across the Midwest – big, blue-collar battlegrounds like Ohio, Wisconsin and Michigan, where a certain segment of Democratic-leaning, populist white voters may recoil from what they perceive as overreach on the border.
How confident are they that union members and African Americans will be such long-term fans of this plan? How certain can the administration be that these 3.7 million adult newly not-so-illegal immigrants will find jobs?
A few other points to throw in here. Obama promises:
So we’re going to offer the following deal: If you’ve been in America for more than five years; if you have children who are American citizens or legal residents; if you register, pass a criminal background check, and you’re willing to pay your fair share of taxes – you’ll be able to apply to stay in this country temporarily, without fear of deportation.
How many illegal immigrants will be able to get the documents they’ll need to make their case about length of time in the United States, or ties to family in the United States? How many are literally “undocumented” and came here with the shirts on their backs, or lost their documents during their journeys or life in the U.S.?
For those immigrants who qualify, Salas said it will be important for them to begin securing original copies of documents that will prove how long they have been in this country as well as establish legal family ties that may be important to their case. They may need to go to the consulate of their country of origin, or to their school districts or places of former residence to obtain proof.
Supporting evidence that may be required include birth certificates, family and adoption records, legal guardianship records, school records, passports and other official documents, Salas says.
They may need to prove continuous residency over a period of years, which can be established with pay stubs, utility bills, rental agreements or other ordinary records.
Yes, this decision occurs in the context of the rebuke to the president in the midterms. But this also comes after the president’s promises have been proven to be worthless — if you like your plan you can keep your plan, if you like your doctor you can keep your doctor, your premiums will go down, the “red line” in Syria, al-Qaeda is “decimated” and ISIS is the “jayvee team”, and so on. (Michael Graham identifies some of Obama’s “if you like your plan” moments in last night’s speech.)
How many illegal immigrants want to come out of the shadows and identify themselves to law enforcement based upon this promise?
Then the question of unforeseen complications arises. After the stimulus, Obamacare, our alleged breakthrough with Iran, our coalition against ISIS and so on, we see a pattern with this administration dealing with complicated problems with an even more complicated solutions. These solutions rarely proceed exactly as planned, and the administration seems blindsided by the surprise complications and problems. They set up the executive-order DREAM Act, then are surprised by droves of unattended children crossing the border. They pass Dodd-Frank; we learn in June, “regulators still haven’t completed key parts, including standards for the mortgage-securities market and tougher regulations for credit-rating firms,” four years after passage. They make grand promises about taking care of veterans and then are shocked to learn about widespread hidden delays and unreported problems. We pledge a few months of “advise and assist” to the Iraqi army, hoping that will change the equation in the fight against ISIS.
What’s going to be the unforeseen consequence of this decision?