Friday, June 28, 2013

The People Behind the Policy... And the Politics Behind the Positioning

I know, I know. We've been talking quite a bit lately about the politics of comprehensive immigration reform (CIR). However, there's also the humanity behind the policy. Jon Ralston actually reminded us of this last night.

So did US Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Searchlight). He told the amazing story of (superstar community organizer) Astrid Silva and her family on the Senate floor. I have to wonder if there were any dry eyes in the chamber yesterday.

Again, keep in mind that we're talking about real people here. And we're considering the future of real families, real American families. This isn't discussed as often as it should be.

And this is why I laughed a sickening laugh this morning when I saw this Beltway tripe proclaiming, "It's Hell Being Joe Heck." Really? Really? On what f**king planet?!

When has his family been at risk of being ripped apart? When has he had to worry about his kids' education? And he still won't declare his position on immigration reform. His Southern Nevada staff could only offer generic platitudes and comment forms when they were confronted by people whose lives are at stake.

And this inevitably leads us back to the complicated politics of CIR. Last month, a number of Republicans were hoping that "Scandal-mania" would distract Americans from their burgeoning civil war over CIR. But now that the once sizzling "Scandal-mania" is quickly fizzling, House G-O-TEA "leaders" looking for new excuses to kill CIR.

And already, the 21st Century Know Nothings are offering this (wildly insane fantasy) to them. Supposedly, "demographic destiny" isn't really a problem for Republicans. And why not? Oh, they can just run up the score even more among white voters!

No really, they're going there. And of course, Steve Benen is trying to inject some actual logic into this argument.

How would the Republican Party increase its share of the white vote to 70%? I don't know. In fact, the more I think about it, I'm not sure I want to know. But for Trende, that's not really the point -- if the GOP pulls that off, the demographic time bomb is put off until around 2040.

As a matter of statistics, I suppose it's a reasonable enough argument, but there are some relevant troubles with the thesis.

For one thing, there's the question of heightened polarization. The more the GOP takes deliberate steps to pander to white voters to boost white turnout -- or as Kilgore put it, double down on being the "White Man's Party" -- the more it risks alienating everyone else, including moderate and liberal whites.

There's also a generational issue -- for [Sean] Trende's thesis to work in the coming years, white turnout would have to go up quite a bit, but younger whites tend to be more liberal and Democratic. In other words, the GOP would need more votes from the very folks who are, at the risk of sounding indelicate, dying off.

With this in mind, it would seem Republicans have to choose between figuring out how to squeeze more votes out of elderly white folks and repairing their relationship with everyone else. The answer should be obvious, but there's no guarantee that will matter.

Ouch. We can all see the real political peril the Republican Party will face in future election cycles if it continues to alienate minority voters. And it increasingly looks like Senator Dean Heller (R-46%) is now realizing this as well. It remains to be seen if Rep. Joe Heck (R-"TEA" Curious?) will soon.

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But again, what about the real people being affected by this policy? Putting aside political strategy for a moment, what about the people who stand to gain if CIR passes (and lose so much if CIR fails)? Do they truly want to be responsible for breaking up families and causing real economic hardship? Do they actually want to hurt all these real families, all these real American families?

And now, let's bring political strategy back into the mix. How on earth will Republicans ultimately benefit from alienating a growing pool of voters here in Nevada and nationwide? Sure, they can continue in their efforts to max out on white voters. It may even win a few more elections here and there. But in a diversifying Nevada and America overall, there's no way on earth this is a viable path to winning the Presidency and/or Nevada statewide elections in the future.

Now, we just have to wait and see how well Rep. Heck and his House leadership can actually comprehend this fast approaching reality.

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