This is (at least) the second time this year that Republicans have allowed the narrative to get away from them on an important policy discussion. This first, most disastrous time, was with healthcare. Gone were the impassioned arguments about federal overreach, failing markets, and out-of-control spending that characterized the debate on Obamacare years ago. Instead, we saw Republicans trying and failing to defend themselves against charges of stealing healthcare from the poor in order to give tax cuts to the rich. Other than the “Obamacare is failing” argument, which was also poorly presented, Republicans struggled terribly to refute the liberal narrative. The result – they failed to do what they’ve been promising to do for six long years.
Now they’re doing it again with DACA. Now, in fairness – if you can use that term here – there are plenty of Republicans who plainly don’t want to do anything at all to stem the flow of illegal immigrants into this country. Completely in the pocket of Big Business and completely taken with the notion of a One World Nation, they would be just fine if we threw open the border to every half-literate immigrant with a saw and some work gloves. So you can immediately throw these Republicans out of the barrel when it comes to making the case against DACA, because they’re about as useful as Democrats.
But even the others – the ones who have been more or less supportive of President Trump’s anti-illegal immigration platform – are suddenly soft-hearted when it comes to DACA. Hell, the president himself, despite ordering an end to the program, appears to consider it Congress’s duty to find a legislative fix for the so-called DREAMers. And that’s fine, although it strikes us as a bit icky that “saving DACA” might become one of the GOP’s only legislative victories of the year. Rather ironic, we would say, but that’s a matter for another day.
The matter for today are those Republicans who find themselves tied in knots over how to support Trump’s decision to end the program. And it’s purely a failure of messaging. Regardless of how you feel about these illegal immigrants who came here as “children” (a term used loosely in this case), DACA was an unconstitutional overreach of the former president. Barack Obama did not have the authority to grant a host of legal benefits to 800,000 people who were here in violation of congressional law. And if DACA had wound up in court, that would have been the only possible conclusion to this sordid mess.
So why – WHY – is it so hard for Republicans to make that case to the public?