Sunday, December 19, 2010

The DREAM Collapses

I had expected the DREAM act to fail. The GOP is in the grip of a hysterical anti-immigration fervor, such that even children -- children who often had no choice in coming here, children who often know no other country, children who are working hard and want to go to college, or defend our freedoms in combat -- these children, to the GOP, are enemies. The concept of "terror babies" is one that could only occur in a diseased political climate.

And in terms of raw political calculation, the GOP is exceptionally worried that these new American citizens will be Democrats. Latinos already are leaning mildly Democratic, and while that's a lean that's growing more severe each year due to the aforementioned GOP anti-Latino hysteria, the fact remains that for many GOP strategists, creating new paths to citizenship means creating new Democratic voters. So, concerns of justice notwithstanding, the DREAM act was likely to fail for the same reason DC remains disenfranchised.

But I was wrong. I was wrong to lay the blame entirely on Republicans.

The cloture vote failed, 55-41. Five more votes, and it would have passed. And wouldn't you know it, but five Democrats voted against cloture. They are Senators Max Baucus (MT), Jon Tester (MT), Kay Hagan (NC), Ben Nelson (NE) and Mark Pryor (AR). Senator Pryor is, in fact, a graduate of my high school -- a fact which now thoroughly embarrasses me. Three Republicans -- Richard Lugar (IN), Lisa Murkowski (AK), and Robert Bennett (UT) -- broke with their party, along with both Senate independents, giving us our final tally.

I assumed the DREAM act would collapse because I assumed Republicans would not let it pass. And let's be clear -- the vast majority of the Senate GOP voted against the bill. We should harbor no illusions: they are primarily at fault here. And it's worth noting that the DREAM supporters did their job -- they got the support of a majority of Americans, a majority of House members, a majority of Senators, and the President. It is a sign of our dysfunctional times that this wasn't sufficient.

But the point isn't about laying blame down. I had been fatalistic about the DREAM act because I assumed it was a sure-fire victim of GOP obstruction -- something that would fail even if the Democrats managed to keep a united front. But it wasn't. They needed Democratic help. And they got it. Five Democrats, whose presence in my party shames me.

Part of me wants to close with some tripe about how we're the real victims here -- about how America is hurt when we turn away smart, motivated kids who have worked hard to get into college, or have sworn the deepest oath imaginable to our nation by agreeing to serve in uniform. And we are hurt by our short-sightedness, no doubt. But the real victims remain the immigrants themselves -- shut out of the only country they known by a political class that is willing to turn children into monsters.


superdestroyer said...

If all of those illegal immigrants were mormons who would automatically vote for Republicans, the so-called progressives would be screaming for closed borders and more deportations.

The real question is why have the Democrats become so upset with hard to lead middle class whites that they want to replace them with automatic Democratic Party voting Hispanics.

At a time of 10% unemployment and weak economic performance, why do the Democrats want to encourage more illegal immigration and want ot destroy more neighborhoods in the U.S.

PG said...

Actually, if it weren't for the GOP's growing anti-immigrant sentiment, Latinos probably would have continued to trend toward the GOP as they did with G.W. Bush under Karl Rove's guidance. This is a group that is majority Catholic, with the minority belonging to socially conservative churches such as the Pentecostals and yes, Mormons (Mormons do an enormous amount of mission work in Latin America; I know several who met their wives overseas). Given the GOP's success in persuading other socially conservative groups to vote against their economic interests by voting Republican, they could very well have done the same with Latinos. Unfortunately for the GOP, the xenophobic cast that an otherwise-legitimate law'n'order concern has taken on has pushed Latino voters away. We now see Republicans treating phenomena such as political bumper stickers in Spanish as an affront that calls even Latino citizens' "loyalty" into question.

Superdestroyer said...


The Republicans have never convinced anyone to vote against their economic interest. All the Republicans have manage to do is convince middle class white voters that Democrats want to tax the crap out of them to give the money to core groups in the Democratic Party such as Hispanics.

Also, Hispanics are not social conservatives and have zero interest in social conservative issues. Do you really think a demographic group with a 50% illegitimacy rate is socially conservative. Do you really think that a group that commits crime at a rate four times greater than whites is conservative?

For all of the Bush's mythical success with Hispanics, the Texas legislature never had an Hispanic Republican.

joe said...

Well, we heard it here first: social conservatism and any premarital sex are mutually exclusive! (Now someone just needs to inform social conservatives of this fact...)

Chris Taus said...

No one here is surprised by the Democrats saying this, if they are, they have been in the mountains of Peru studying the mating habits of salamanders for the past two years. We will be having this same conversation if START fails.

N. Friedman said...

It seems to me that the Democrats, by, whatever the reality may be, at least seeming to be disinclined to want even to enforce existing laws, have done much to fuel opposition to the immigrants. And, that has played fairly well for Republicans, at least for now.

Democrats have to stop speaking out of both sides of their mouths and recognize that seeming to be the advocate for those in the country illegally undermines such immigrants.

This should not be taken as opposition to the DREAM act, which I favor. My point is different. Democrats need to be upfront about working to enforce the laws on the books first and foremost. That will, in due course, help abate the resentment that having things all ways has caused with the electorate. And, if the electorate sees that there is a viable plan in place to address the failure to protect the borders from unlawful activity, the public will be more amendable to showing mercy towards those here illegally.

PG said...

For all of the Bush's mythical success with Hispanics, the Texas legislature never had an Hispanic Republican.

What is mythical about that success, and why is it relevant whether Latino Republicans are in the Texas legislature? (Fact check: at least 4 were elected to the Lege last month.)

Democrats need to be upfront about working to enforce the laws on the books first and foremost.

Uh, the Obama Administration has been enforcing the laws on the books (albeit attempting to do so with less disruption to business than the Bush Administration caused), and has been catching plenty of grief from the far-left for it.

Superdestroyer said...


The entire time that the La Raza Republicans were screaming for open borders and unlimited immigraiton, Hispanics did not vote for Republicans.

Now that the Republicans are supporting border enforcement, limiting immigraiton, and no amnesty, it looks like a few Hispanics are winning office as Republicans and are winning in districts that are not majority Hispanic.

If the lesson from Texas means anything it should mean that supporting open borders and amnesty is a failure.

N. Friedman said...


You write: "Uh, the Obama Administration has been enforcing the laws on the books ... [and] been catching plenty of grief from the far-left for it"

Notice my point, which concerned Democrats and your point, that the "far-left" has objected to what Obama has done. And, note my word "upfront," which is something the Obama administration has not been (perhaps out of fear of the reaction on the "far-left"). Obama hopes to have things all ways at once. The public, by contrast, wants the borders to be secure, first and foremost.

David Schraub said...

Who could have guessed that NF's response would be high-Broderism, of the "it doesn't matter what policies Obama's enacting regarding the enforcement of immigration laws, all that matters is some amorphous perception of what 'Democrats' are doing." (I'm not sure what other Democrat aside from President Obama has authority to determine the degree of enforcement of our immigration laws, as that's an executive responsibility, but that never stops the Broders of the world). It's just another way of spinning factual ignorance into a political failing.

N. Friedman said...


The GOP and its media friends make a big point of the fact that Democrats support illegal aliens. Democrats say little in response because, they do, in fact - as I do, in fact - have some sympathy for the illegal immigrants. (I suspect many in the GOP also have some sympathy, for what it is worth.)

Obama has tended, compared to his predecessor, to enforce the immigration laws very slightly better but, to anyone who has eyes and ears, illegal immigration continues essentially unabated, less only, if at all, due to the decline in the economic fortune of the US.

So, the GOP, rather sensibly from a political point of view, proposes strong measures to secure the borders. Democrats, for fear of the far left, says little while minimally enforcing the law and pushing to protect illegal immigrants in the US.

The perception - and perception counts, whether you like it or not - left by this is that Democrats do not care about the borders but do care about protecting illegal immigrants. You may call it Broderism - whatever you mean by that. I do not care. Facts are facts and there are perception facts that do exist.