Monday, March 31, 2014


I see from The New York Times today that NSA- and drone-obsessed neckbeard millennials aren't the only voters in key Democratic demographics likely to stay home on Election Day 2014:
AURORA, Colo. -- As the weather warms, Lizeth Chacon is anticipating a new season of registering Latino voters -- yet dreading experiences like one late last year, when she came upon a skate park full of older teenagers.

"I thought, 'The perfect age! They're turning 18,'" said Ms. Chacon, just 26 herself, born in Mexico and now the lead organizer at Rights for All People, a local immigrant organizing group. But among the roughly 50 people she approached in this increasingly diverse city east of Denver, "not a single person" was interested in her pitch, including those already old enough to vote: "They were like, 'Why? Why would I bother to vote?'"

Across the country, immigrant-rights advocates report mounting disillusionment with both parties among Latinos, enough to threaten recent gains in voting participation that have reshaped politics to Democrats' advantage nationally, and in states like Colorado with significant Latino populations. High hopes -- kindled by President Obama's elections and stoked in June by Senate passage of the most significant overhaul of immigration law in a generation, with a path to citizenship for about 11 million people here unlawfully -- have been all but dashed.
To some extent, this is mission accomplished for the GOP. It's widely assumed that blocking immigration reform is an act of party suicide for Republicans, but if it leads Hispanics to the conclusion that voting is futile, then the demographic shift that's supposed to kill Republicans just gets delayed. Oh, sure, the Democratic coalition will probably go to the polls to vote for a new president in 2016, but, after Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, Republicans have the process of bottling up Democratic presidents down to a science, so they'll be fine. If Republicans stonewall President Hillary Clinton, the Democratic base's disillusionment will reemerge after 2016. This could go on for some time.

Not that Republicans get all the blame for demotivating Hispanic voters. Far from it, as the Times story notes:
Latinos mainly blame Republicans, who control the House and have buried the Senate bill, but they also have soured on Mr. Obama. The federal government has so aggressively enforced existing immigration laws that one national Hispanic leader recently nicknamed the president "deporter in chief" for allowing nearly two million people to be deported.
There are steps the president could take:
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has now written a letter to the Obama administration urging action to ease deportations.... [T]he Conference ... lays out a number of ways it says DHS could act legally to mitigate its impact.

Among them: Expand prosecutorial discretion to factor in people's family ties in de-prioritizing deportation. Make more aggressive efforts to prioritize those undocumented immigrants who are top offenders over lower-level ones. Reform deportation policies so they are safer, such as ending night-time deportations. Improve procedures for notifying those detained of their rights.
But The Times story describes what it calls "Mr. Obama's bind":
If he suspends more deportations, he could mend relations with Latinos and perhaps motivate more of them to vote. But he could lose what chance remains for new immigration law, his second-term domestic priority, since House Republicans have signaled they would cite such executive action as proof that he cannot be trusted to enforce any law.
STOP. JUST STOP. If that's what the president's thinking -- that an effort on his part to show Republicans that he understands their concerns will be met by comprise on their part -- then he's as naive on immigration as he has been in the past on the budget and health care.

Republicans are not going to yield on this in the run-up to 2016 -- I don't care what the conventional wisdom says. If they were to try, the GOP base would scream and throw fits. Any Establishment candidate who wants the Republican presidential nomination will have to stake out a hardcore position on immigration just to stay in the race. That may be suicidal in the general election, but Republicans can handle that.

Republicans are not going to yield, so Obama should give up on trying to mollify them, just as he gave up on trying to negotiate his way out of budget shutdown fights. But will he?


Ms. L.B. said...

Steve, articles like the one you cite in today's Times make fire shoot from my eyes.

And, yes, your post is spot-on.

Anonymous said...

You know who else Obama might feel the need to "mollify"? Blue-collar voters and the Democrats who occasionally represent them. All the talk about the appeal of "economic populism" and so forth -- that's aimed at them. And a lot of them don't like immigrants very much. Sometimes the things that the media says you need to do to placate Republicans -- who are, of course, implacable -- are actually the things you need to do to placate Democrats, especially those in vulnerable districts.

Ken_L said...

The impact on party support is all a bit of a furphy anyway. People might vote once or twice because they hope it will bring about future immigration reform, but that will be it. They won't keep voting afterwards out of gratitude. Single issues don't change long-term voting patterns.

Victor said...


5 years in, and the President still doesn't get that the Republican Party will never agree with him on ANYthing, and hates him with the heat of a trillion billion million suns!!!!!!!!!!!!