Glenn Beck is putting on a Make America Great Again hat [Glenn Beck blames media for complete 180: ‘I’ll vote for Trump,’ by Virginia Kruta, Daily Caller, May 18, 2018]. The Republican Party and Conservatism Inc. slowly reconciles itself to President Donald Trump. The Commander in Chief is at 50 percent approval ratings in some polls. [Poll: Trump Approval Rating at 50 percent, by Jeffrey Rodack, Newsmax, May 18, 2018] The Democrats’ poll advantage is at its lowest level of the Trump Administration [Still More Shrinkage: Dems’ Generic Ballot Lead, Vote Share Drop to Lowest Point of Trump’s Presidency, HotAir, May 19, 2018].
So, naturally, it’s time for the Stupid Party to shoot itself in the foot (or somewhere) again.
Witness the astonishing decision by some in the GOP to pick this moment to force a vote on Amnesty for DACA recipients. Rep. Kevin McCarthy is hardly an immigration patriot, but he is accurately reading the political reality when he argues passing Amnesty now would depress Republican turnout and ensure the GOP loses its House majority. [McCarthy to GOP: DACA vote could cost us the House, by Rachel Bade and John Bresnahan, Politico, May 16, 2018]
Democrats currently enjoy an advantage in enthusiasm among their base. Dividing the GOP now would practically guarantee Republican defeat, even if the economy remains strong and President Trump’s approval ratings remain relatively high [Has the political climate improved, marginally, for Republicans? By Dan Balz, Washington Post, May 19, 2018]
Yet MSM-designated “moderate” Republicans seem determined to push the issue—notably representatives like Carlos Curbelo of Florida, who are naturally indifferent to the survival of the Historic American Nation [Rep. Carlos Curbelo uses legislative maneuver to force a debate on DACA, by Sally Persons, Washington Times, May 10, 2018].
Other key nogoodniks: California Republicans Jeff Denham and David Valadao, who seem to believe that passing Amnesty will make Hispanics more likely to vote for them. [California Republicans close to forcing vote on DACA bills in House, by Gayle Putrich, San Francisco Chronicle, May 18, 2018]
Of course, there’s no evidence to suggest this is the case, especially when the California GOP is gaining new relevance by opposing out-of-control Open Borders policies. [Exclusive: Majority of Jeff Denham’s constituents oppose DACA Amnesty, by John Binder, Breitbart, May 17, 2018]
Lame duck Speaker Paul Ryan is trying to forge a compromise, but as one source quoted by Politico notes, he’s in “legacy” mode and would be happy to have Amnesty for “Dreamers” as his final accomplishment [Ryan and McCarthy split on Dreamers, by Rachel Babe, May 17, 2018].
Behind it all are the Koch Brothers, who have used their fundraising clout to pressure Republicans running for re-election into backing Amnesty [Tax cuts, prison reform, Amnesty: billionaire Koch brothers shape GOP agenda ahead of midterms, by John Binder, Breitbart, May 14, 2018]. They’re even supporting Democrats with supportive mailers [Koch brothers running ads for Democrats: ‘Thank you’ for pushing open borders, by John Binder, Breitbart, May 17, 2018]. The Koch Brothers network has 3.5 times as many employees as the RNC and its congressional campaign staff, showing how little institutional power the GOP actually has [Why are the Koch Brothers thanking Democrats? Republican Donors Fund ‘Unique’ Campaign on DACA fix, by Josh Keefe, Newsweek, May 17, 2018].
President Trump squandered his initial election momentum in a disastrous push for Speaker Paul Ryan’s agenda, wasting months in a failed push for health care reform and passing a largely unpopular tax cut. Significantly, rather than showing any kind of gratitude, Ryan is running for the exit. He will likely join his fellow “Young Gun” Eric Cantor in the profitable private sector as soon as possible.
Yet there is also reason for hope and the tide can be turned very quickly, There is absolutely no sign of Never Trumpism in the GOP primaries. To the contrary, Establishment GOP candidates moving closer to President Trump. For example, Ben Cline, who will be replacing Bob Goodlatte as the GOP candidate in VA-6, was the “establishment” candidate, yet had stronger stated positions on immigration than the so-called “insurgent.”
Similarly, Kevin McCarthy’s sudden opposition to Amnesty probably has less to do with him having changed his mind and more with him feeling political pressure from Representative Jim Jordan, whom some conservatives are supporting as Paul Ryan’s successor [Conservatives campaign to draft Jim Jordan for speaker, by Sean Moran, Breitbart, May 18, 2018]. If Kevin McCarthy wants to be Speaker himself, he can’t afford to look weak in the immigration battle.
House conservatives are also ready to rally to President Trump’s populist message. Jordan was the former House Freedom Caucus chairman, and that particular grouping fired a shot across the leadership’s bow this weak by sinking a bill on agricultural spending [House fails to pass farm bill because of fight over immigration, by Rebecca Kaplan, CBS, May 18, 2018]. The stated reason for this rebellion was the House leadership’s refusal to allow a vote on Bob Goodlatte’s immigration bill.
This bill, though invariably described by the Main Stream Media as “conservative,” is in fact already a compromise, but at least does something to increase border security and interior enforcement. The increasingly-frightened McCarthy is vowing it will get a vote next month, but Republican congressmen are skeptical he’s telling the truth [McCarthy: There will be a June vote on Goodlatte immigration bill, by Julie Grace Brufke, The Hill, May 17, 2018].
The takeaway: The Republican Party is divided on immigration and that something has to give.
As our Washington Watcher predicted in March, the GOP Establishment wanted to punt on the immigration issue and simply run on tax cuts and the economy. But this is simply no longer an option [How a divisive immigration fight took down Republicans’ farm bill, by Jim Newell, Slate, May 18, 2018]. There is going to be at least some kind of movement on the issue regardless of what Paul Ryan wants, and Kevin McCarthy is going to need to make some kind of show of strength on the issue if he wants to inherit the Speaker’s gavel [White House, House GOP leaders reopen talks on immigration, by Mike DeBonis and Seung Min Kim, Washington Post, May 17, 2018].
More importantly, the economy is not going to be enough to ensure any Republican is speaker. The GOP needs to do something to motivate its base and shore up its populist credentials lest they be swamped by Democratic voter enthusiasm and MSM cheerleading for the resistance.
CBS News poll: Americans credit Trump's policies for the economy but think he's looking out for big business and the wealthy over the working/middle class. pic.twitter.com/zaEEVCkvww— Sahil Kapur (@sahilkapur) May 20, 2018
This kind of instability is actually good news for immigration patriots. It will force President Trump into action.
He’s already showing impatience with the immigration status quo, recently berating Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen for inaction [Why Trump is so angry at his Homeland Security Secretary, by Jonathan Blitzer, The New Yorker, May 17, 2018]. Naively, the president surrounded himself with enemies, But his basic political instincts remain sound. And above all, President Trump is too popular among the Republican grassroots for the GOP Establishment to defy him openly on immigration. Indeed, they’ve already surrendered.
Whether it likes it or not, the White House is going to have to put its weight behind a concreate legislative proposal. Supporting a “clean” DACA fix will deflate Republican enthusiasm and likely doom the Trump presidency.
But if the Administration supports the Goodlatte bill, or something similar, it will force Democrats into an up-or-down vote on border security—precisely the kind of issue that is needed to gin up Republican enthusiasm.
The ironic result of the Republican “moderates’” demand for DACA: it has put immigration back at the center of Congress’s agenda—where it should have been all along.
The Democrats can’t even bring themselves to denounce MS-13, so the last thing they want is a real debate on immigration, which would bring out the conflicts inherent in their own crazy coalition.
Donald Trump won the GOP nomination and the presidency by raising the immigration issue. Now, with the party consolidating behind him, he must do it again—to save his administration and the GOP majority.
If Trump goes with his instincts, he’ll go into the midterm elections on the offensive. But if he goes with his advisors and the GOP “moderates,” he’ll be swamped by the “Blue Wave” as Republican voters stay home.
It only took one speech before. That’s all it will take now. Time for Trump to wheel, fight, and win.
James Kirkpatrick [Email him] is a Beltway veteran and a refugee from Conservatism Inc.