Top 5 Ways Obama Punked the GOP on Immigration; and the 2016 Campaign

By Juan Cole | —

The 2016 presidential election will be very different from the 2014 congressional midterms just held. In the off years, turnout is low (this time it was less than 36 percent) and the people who come out to vote are disproportionately older, well off, and of northern European heritage. That is why the Republicans did so well; it was mainly Republicans voting. Only 21% of youth turned out to vote. It was in essence a series of local elections in which core Democratic constituencies couldn’t be bothered to come out (or in some instances faced trouble voting because of GOP voter suppression). In India, the poor vote; in the US, they don’t, in part because of GOP voter suppression and in part because they’ve been given the impression they have nothing at stake.

The 2016 election will be a national election, and the electorate will be very different. A majority of the eligible voters will vote. In a national election, the minorities are key. African-Americans are nearly a quarter of the Democratic Party. The Latino vote for Republicans will likely fall from 36% to only 30% in 2016, while the percentage of Latinos who vote Democratic will likely rise from 62% to 68% overall (what it was in 2012). Obama got a whopping 71% of the Latino vote versus 27% for Romney.

Obama’s freeze on deportations for certain classes of undocumented immigrants (those who have been here all their lives, having been brought as children, and parents of US citizens born in the US who have lived here as law-abiding residents for at least 5 years) throws a pigeon among the cats in several important ways.

1. Obama’s steps certainly matter to Latinos, some 2/3s of whom say that new immigration legislation is important or very important to them. There isn’t any doubt that the Democratic Party just picked up a lot of support in this demographic.

2. As Jonathan Chait and others have argued, Obama is enticing Republicans representing angry white men to denounce angrily and loudly his deportation freeze. The more they cavil against the executive order, they more they signal that their party is unsympathetic to Latinos.

3. Indeed, some Republicans have already been so crazed by the president’s action, which echoes that of Ronald Reagan, that they have gone beyond mere caviling and spoken of the possibility of violence against immigrants. Retiring Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn did this, effectively turning the GOP into the party of skinheads in the eyes of minorities.

The Young Turks: “GOPer Practically Begging For Violent Reaction To Obama Immigration Speech”

4. Florida has a lot of immigrants, and Obama has just shored up the 2016 Democratic position in that state, where people were glued to the television Thursday night and weeping with joy. Many undocumented immigrants have citizen relatives, who can vote and who now have reason to be grateful to the Democratic Party. (Hundreds of thousands of people move to Florida every year, and it is about to overtake New York in population, so it is a very, very different state from the one that existed in 2000).

5. Latino voters have relatively low rates of turnout. In part this is because so many have come relatively recently and they have not developed a sense of civic commitment to US politics. They are working several jobs and busy establishing themselves and their communities. In some instances, they may be chary of having anything to do with the Federal government even if they are citizens and eligible voters because they have undocumented friends and/or family and don’t want to draw attention to themselves. That skittishness may decrease now in some instances, and likely to the Democrats’ advantage.

27 Responses

  1. The crazier the GOP gets on immigration, the less likely they are to go to their most viable candidate, Jeb Bush. Cruz up, Bush down? That’s a nice knock-on effect. No wonder Hillary Tweeted her support.

    • The is just a show. You don’t really think the leadership of the GOP is against adding more workers and lowering wages for their business supporters do you? The shouting is for the dopes that support the Republicans through thick or thin even if it means lowering their standard of living. The Republican voters are not much different from Democrat voters. They both vote for candidates that work for the interests of the powerful and against their own economic interests. Elizabeth Warren is right when she says the game is fixed. I don’t see it changing while television has such a hold over the vast majority of voters. Arguing about most of the manufactured “issues” in American politics is like debating who was the smartest of the 3 stooges.

  2. So the Hillary wins in 2016. Let’s see, she voted for the Iraq
    War, appointed neocons like Victoria Nuland to key State Dept jobs, promoted the Libyan war, called Putin Hitler, and supports settlements in the West Bank. Does it get any better than this?

    • Your comment could be considered the first paragraph of a long rap sheet for Hillary and Slick Willie. Getting these two for the price of one was no bargain.

      • Makes one wonder what combination of personal psych traits, skills and externalities leads to the apotheosis of “leaders” like the Clinton Duo, the Bush League, etc. Does not seem to bode well for the species and this planet that such creatures and their “backers” and “friends” end up owning and ruling everything…

    • Great comment.
      Unluckily it just stays the same. I mean we thought that Obama would be a change, and he was more of the same (even enlisted Hillary as his Secretary of State!). Either party and any candidate will give total support for Israel, big oil, big banks and old school politics. We will continue to cultivate enemies, and “commies” and Islam are American classics.
      “Does it get any better than this?” The more it changes, the more it stays the same.

      • Do you think the GOP is crazy enough to get us into a war with Iran, Russia and China at the same time? I do.

        • Maybe not intentionally, but some wars are continuations of marches of folly such as the neocons are pursuing. The fact that Putin appears to have concluded diplomacy isn’t working and flexing muscles is necessary should be a signal for the grown-ups to step in – if any are around and capable of doing what is necessary.

  3. Obama just added 4+ million volunteers to dems election campaign in 2016. All the people who will be given papers will stand on street corners and knock on doors to urge people to vote for dems. Brilliant political move!

  4. If Obama’s move “punked” the Republicans and gets Hillary elected, then he may also have “punked” the nation.

  5. Politically speaking, Obama made the right move. Without a strong Latino vote in 2016 the Dems might be in trouble, Hillary or no Hillary. This gives the Republicans no choice but to come out swinging and after their TOTAL victory in November, the pubs are good with that.

    This hurts Jeb and helps Christie.

    Christie vs. Hillary 2016….WWIII…Who gets hit first– Iran or Russia?

      • It’s difficult for me to have much sympathy for the 70% of the American public who supported the war in Iraq. I think they just wanted payback against Muslims for 9/11.Ditto for the public trying to wash their hands of the whole mess by blaming George Bush. The question wasn’t about WMDs, but did Saddam Hussein have the delivery systems to attack a country on the other side of planet Earth? That was simply impossible.

        Hillary Clinton supported the war in Iraq.
        John Kerry supported the war in Iraq.
        Joe Biden supported the war in Iraq.

        George didn’t fool them.

        Wars have unintended consequences. More wars being one of them. The American taxpayer will have to pay for those.

        • All true. But will America ever learn? How can we avoid the temptation for more military adventures?
          Remember, that Americans keep voting for the same jokers.

        • I think they just wanted payback against Muslims for 9/11.

          In the case of politicians in Congress it is more likely they voted for the war because major supporters of (lobbies for) the war wanted them to do so. The 70% of the people persuaded by these lobbies would have been an added incentive. Not having any moral constraints probably made it easier for the politicians to vote for the war and what they believed was in their own personal interests.

        • But 70% of non-white and non-Christian Americans did not support the war. Probably nor did 70% of the poor. So the question is, why don’t you fight to protect and expand their political power? The white left, the peaceniks and the treehuggers have ultimately failed to wean most of their fellow whites from love of supremacy and inequality at home and abroad. The fight can’t be won there; it’s over; the white Americans will not reform until faced with an absolute and final defeat.

          We have to play dirty and win with the Americans who are willing to redefine what it is to be “American”. We may even have to threaten race war to stop the far greater war that a declining master race will inflict on the world; the Samson Option from Israel to our missile silos.

        • @Super 390
          As noted in my response to this:
          link to
          We are already faced with a “Samson Option” of our own making. And unless we or our children are willing create the final, ultimate defeat you’re describing – and in the not too distant future – that greater Samson Option will cease to be “an” option. It will become the only option.

      • …as to who gets hit first, it seems the Generals and their extended families and not no stinkin’ figurehead president will decide that. Here’s the latest from the Bubble, via the NYT:

        President Obama decided in recent weeks to authorize a more expansive mission for the military in Afghanistan in 2015 than originally planned, a move that ensures American troops will have a direct role in fighting in the war-ravaged country for at least another year.

        Mr. Obama’s order allows American forces to carry out missions against the Taliban and other militant groups threatening American troops or the Afghan government, a broader mission than the president described to the public earlier this year…The new authorization also allows American jets, bombers and drones to support Afghan troops on combat missions.

        In an announcement in the White House Rose Garden in May, Mr. Obama said that the American military would have no combat role in Afghanistan next year, and that the missions for the 9,800 troops remaining in the country would be limited to training Afghan forces and to hunting the “remnants of Al Qaeda.”

        The decision to change that mission was the result of a lengthy and heated debate that laid bare the tension inside the Obama administration between two often-competing imperatives: the promise Mr. Obama made to end the war in Afghanistan, versus the demands of the Pentagon that American troops be able to successfully fulfill their remaining missions in the country. [Say what?]

        The internal discussion took place against the backdrop of this year’s collapse of Iraqi security forces in the face of the advance of the Islamic State as well as the mistrust between the Pentagon and the White House that still lingers since Mr. Obama’s 2009 decision to “surge” 30,000 American troops to Afghanistan. Some of the president’s civilian advisers say that decision was made only because of excessive Pentagon pressure, and some military officials say it was half-baked and made with an eye to domestic politics.

        Mr. Obama’s decision, made during a White House meeting in recent weeks with his senior national security advisers, came over the objection of some of his top civilian aides, who argued that American lives should not be put at risk next year in any operations against the Taliban — and that they should have only a narrow counterterrorism mission against Al Qaeda.

        But the military pushed back, and generals both at the Pentagon and in Afghanistan urged Mr. Obama to define the mission more broadly to allow American troops to attack the Taliban, the Haqqani network and other militants if intelligence revealed that the extremists were threatening American forces in the country….

        In effect, Mr. Obama’s decision largely extends much of the current American military role for another year. Mr. Obama and his aides were forced to make a decision because the 13-year old mission, Operation Enduring Freedom, is set to end on Dec. 31….” link to

        Who’s in charge here? Al Haig?

  6. We are being manipulated.Big time. Right up through the congress and the president. Some will call this a conspiracy theory. Is it really just a theory or is it something real? I think it is obvious. I can’t support Hillary unless I learn some things or see big changes.

    • I’ll take even a triangulating, corporate-friendly, hippie-punching, realpoliticking DLC centrist weasel like Hillary Clinton any day over whoever manages to slither up out of the GOP snakepit and stand for president.

      Withdrawing your support for the Democrat equals voting for the Republican. And you don’t even have to leave the house!

      • Wrong. It’s long past time for the American people to rise and vote for what a sizable portion believe in – NONE OF THE ABOVE.

        • Two-thirds of the electorate just did what you said, by not even showing up. What did that get them? The worst Congress in history. None of the above is an abdication. Voting for a Democrat while plotting a workers’ revolution is at least a plan.

  7. But no mention of reforming CARRP in Obama’s executive order, as if Muslims don’t even exist. Very disappointed by everyone left out of this immigration “reform.” What a slap in the face for everyone who waits to come here legally and for people from Muslim countries who are often stonewalled.

  8. I had been thinking that any efforts to undo the executive action would have electoral consequences. The reactive GOP rhetoric is amazing: ‘Now we won’t cooperate on immigration reform’ [i.e., we have a new reason why we won’t do what we never intended to do in any case]. ‘We’ll use the power of the purse in retaliation.’ [By de-funding the immigration agencies Obama will now have doing less or by doing something still more obviously irrelevant to the executive action?] ‘He’s waving a red flag at a bull.’ [So, you admit to being bull-headed?]

  9. Any hope for progress clearly lies in the hands of people who don’t bother to show up for midterm elections. They might not even bother to show up for a presidential election for a white woman.

    But these are the citizens we have. Like a lot of white liberals, they have beliefs and positions, but not the Right’s maniacal greed for a monopoly on power cynically mythologized as a “birthright” worth killing for. They don’t believe that their beliefs and positions are something that they must force down their fellow citizens’ throats, and they do (falsely) believe that their fellow citizens and their GOP heroes are not psychopaths with ill intent. They will vote for a “real” American even if they would disagree with his positions whether or not they bothered to find out what these are. They accept that the rich and the patriots “know better” what’s best for the country… and maybe they’re afraid of what happens if they fight back with all the weapons that the poor once used against the rich in this country.

    Until there are a hundred more Fergusons and Zimmermans, and it becomes obvious that white men in the Red states are reclaiming their right to kill any black man (and presumably any gays or any possible illegals or Moslems) that they please, those victims will not be willing to rise up in rebellion. And when that rebellion finally happens, what will we be doing here in white liberal Netland?

    Maybe we should recognize now that all these awful things will happen, that soon the Right will threaten secession unless Washington turns its back on minorities the way it did in 1876, that soon the revolutionary anger will exist to be channeled into forms of mass civil disobedience, but only if the planning and organizing begins now.

    Meaning, knowing what we know of the far right movement and the ties between its warmongerers and religious fanatics and “libertarians”, how do we direct hundreds of thousands of protestors from the easy but useless attacks on racist cops, etc, to the very machinery of white conservative power that turns war dollars into racist electoral victories, church dollars into voucher-funded theocratic indoctrination schools, consumer dollars into fossil fuel imperialism? How do we throw our bodies into the gears and bring this country to a stop in all its interconnected evils?

    Because no one will go into an election booth to vote for equality until they think there is a movement that can back them up with actions. And the cult of inequality will not negotiate until it faces punishment in the form of the destruction of its property.

    • Or, as an acquaintance of mine put it, “The revolution will come when enough people can’t afford to buy “Happy Meals.” Unfortunately, as history has shown there is a risk that the revolutionaries will be worse than the establishment they replaced .

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