Mickey Kaus: “In August, Silence = Amnesty”
Brenda Walker recently linked to a story that said:
Keeping immigration on the back-burner helps avoid a recess filled with angry town-hall meetings reminiscent of the heated August 2009 protests where the backlash against health care reform coalesced. Doing nothing also starves Democrats of a target, Republicans argue.
“August was a central part of our discussions. People don’t want to go home and get screamed at,” a House GOP leadership aide said.
Mickey Kaus, writing in the Daily Caller, suggests that you scream anyway, because of what will happen if you don`t:
Both pro- and anti-legalization forces in the immigration fight will be trying to make their cases to House members–especially Republican members–during the August recess. But here’s the fundamental asymmetry in this debate–the pro-legalization forces don’t really need to show up. The anti-legalizers do. Pro-side Democrats can be distracted (by the need to defend Obamacare, for example) or they can just be lazy and unmotivated. As long as the antis are also unmotivated, legalization will win. Tie goes to the border-jumper.
Why is this? Well, look at the state of play as Congress goes home: The Senate has passed an amnesty bill. The House would probably pass one too–with mainly Democratic votes–it if ever gets to the floor. And the House’s GOP leadership almost certainly wants some kind of legalization to come to the floor. Speaker Boehner is not publicly committed to one approach, but the #2 Republican, Eric Cantor, is off on a kind of Amnestypalooza tour in which practically writes romantic verses praising veteran pro-legalization agitator Luis Gutierrez. (““the leadership you’re providing through thick and thin right now as we try and navigate these very tough political times in choppy waters. My hat is off to you. I’m very grateful.”) Last year’s GOP VP candidate, Rep. Paul Ryan, is actively lobbying for legalization (on the explicit grounds that otherwise Wisconsin dairy farmers might have to raise wages!). Meanwhile key House Judiciary chair Bob Goodlatte is playing some kind of squidgy middle game, declaring his opposition to a “special pathway to citizenship” for those who illegally crossed the border as adults, but leaving the door open for some other type of legalization attached to a non-special pathway.
I doubt even these GOP leaders themselves know what they’re going to do in the coming months, or maybe even what they want to end up with. But it’s clear they face pressure to pass a legalization bill–and that the pressure is internal, not external. If they let amnesty come to a vote, it won’t be because La Raza stages 360 events or Frank Sharry chains himself to the White House fence. It will be because big Republican donors, businessmen and consultants are whispering in their ears. The only force stopping them, on the other hand, is external: fear of a rebellion by the GOP caucus. And the main thing driving such a rebellion would be intense opposition from GOP voters back home.
A footnote to that last point says
As Charlie Cook notes, GOP representatives from anti-amnesty districts may privately favor legalization–but they’re still scared of their constituents.
[In August, Silence = Amnesty, Daily Caller, August 2, 2013.]
As usual, I`ll suggest you Read The Whole Thing, but if you don`t, read this:
You can’t win if you don’t play: If you’re an amnesty foe, it’s ‘or forever hold your peace’ time. If you’ve never been to a Congressman’s town hall, and never want to go, this would be a good time to make an exception. Phone calls and (especially) letters also have a disproportionate impact.