Points in response to my “staying home” post yesterday a.m.
Kathryn: “How is allowing a Pelosi-Reid Congress not enabling bad policy?” Then our choice is between (a) enabling the bad policies of a GOP Congress, or (b) enabling the bad policies of a Dem Congress. But I was speaking of conservatives as an influence. Under current political arrangements, the only influence we have is with the GOP–we have none with Dems. We have reached a pass (I am arguing) at which the best way to exert our influence on the GOP is to show our disgust with their lousy policies by declining to support them any longer. What are conservatives otherwise but doormats for a bunch of love-the-world lefties in GOP clothing?
Ramesh: Yes, we conservatives could fine-tune our votes to the circumstances of local races. But that is to dilute & dissipate our influence, when (according to me) we need to concentrate it in one great thunderclap of disapproval. After all, what you are suggesting is just what sensible voters have been doing for the past few national election cycles. Look where it’s got us. The names you put forward are less than stirring to this voter in any case. The two great Congressional horrors of the past 5 years were (1) the 2003 Medicare spend-o-rama, and (2) this year’s “Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act.” Santorum & Talent, though sound on (2), were both Yeas on (1). Fifty percent conservatives.
I do, however, take to heart your point about us benighted New Yorkers having little incentive to think hard about national voting strategies, given the inevitabilities of our own House and Senate races. They don’t exactly concentrate the mind. (Though contra even that point, we New Yorkers have insights into just how big a tent the GOP can be, insights not vouchsafed to voters elsewhere.)
Stanley: I hesitate to bandy arguments with a future Secretary of Defense, but… Our immigration problems are not, or not much, legislative. They arise from a sheer failure of will & imagination in the Executive. I know of no immigration legislation, either recent, current, or proposed, that has any other aim than to force the Executive to do what it could do anyway if it had the will. Yes, there are funding/appropriation issues, but even these would not deter an energetic Executive from enforcing the law with sufficient vigor to tackle at least the illegal immigration problem. If we wanted the feds to prosecute 100,000 employers of illegal aliens, for instance, Congress would likely need to appropriate some money. On the other hand, the govt. could surely conduct big, noisy, brutal, well-publicized prosecutions of, say, 1,000 employers, to huge deterrent effect, with the resources it has… If it wanted to.
Current federal resources and current federal laws need vigorously enforcing. If the Executive decided to enforce current laws with gusto, there isn’t a bunch that Ms. Pelosi & Mr. Rangel could do about it. The current immigration fiasco is an Executive failure, not a Congressional failure. The Executive needs to be whacked with a two-by-four 1994-style, and there is only one way to do that in a midterm election.
(I will admit, though, that I am tacitly assuming here that an ‘06 thunderclap would wake up the GOP in time to win big in ‘08, & that Peolsi & Co. could not make things much worse in two years. I’ll allow the possibility that the GOP coma may be deeper than I suppose, making your argument correspondingly stronger.)