Today, the Obama Administration, in an obvious attempt to boost the President’s flailing reelection campaign, announced that it would bypass Congress and rewrite the nation’s immigration laws.
The Obama administration will stop deporting and begin granting work permits to younger illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as children and have since led law-abiding lives. The election-year initiative addresses a top priority of an influential Latino electorate that has been vocal in its opposition to administration deportation policies.
The second sentence of the Associated Press story addresses the true impetus for the policy change; election-year politics. Obama, and today’s Democrat party, see the electorate as a patchwork-quilt of interest groups. Sprinkle enough goodies on certain blocks of voters and they believe they can put together just enough support to win. It can work to a point. But, when the pandering to specific groups undercuts one’s overarching narrative it can erode support in the overall electorate.
Obama’s policy change sends a clear message to Hispanic voters. It also sends a clear message to non-hispanic voters. Namely, Obama has just added millions of workers to the legal labor force. Millions of illegal immigrants will now be able to legally compete with Americans for the very few jobs available. This message will not be lost on working-class voters.
The media loves to obsess over GOP divisions on the immigration issue. What they fail to note, however, is the Democrats are equally divided. (A Breitbart award to the first reporter who goes to a union hall to get reaction to today’s policy change.)
This is unsurprising because Americans are divided on the issue. We’re a nation of immigrants and pride ourselves in being a land of opportunity for those eager to seek the American Dream. We are also, though, a nation of laws and many Americans of all political leanings are uncomfortable with the idea that someone can be “rewarded” by breaking the law. Especially at a time that Americans across the economic spectrum feel acute economic anxiety.
Its a tough issue. Which is why we have a Congress, where the nation’s representatives can deliberate and try to find the right policy path. It isn’t pretty and it often fails. But, that’s how laws our made. We do not enact far-reaching rewrites of our laws by executive fiat. Political expediency doesn’t negate an entire branch of government.
The media will no doubt applaud Obama’s policy reverse on this issue. I’ve already seen a few commentators hail it as a brilliant move to shore up the Hispanic vote. But, the bigger question is, why does Obama need to shore up the Hispanic vote? He won their support overwhelmingly against McCain in 2008. Why does he need to bypass Congress and institute a policy that risks alienating working class voters?
Obama’s entire reelection campaign is based on pandering to specific blocks of voters. Its all he has left. In just three and a half years, he’s lost the ability to talk to the rest of us. He’s lost the ability to communicate with our collective aspirations.