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.