This morning, Greg Sargent over at The Plum Line blog tells us, On Immigration, Dems Hold the Middle Ground, and Republicans Don’t. In it, he argues that the Republicans are trying to claim that they are the ones that are staking out a middle ground and that it is the Democrats who are being all extreme by even proposing that an undocumented resident should be provided a path to citizenship (regardless of how labyrinthian the process may be).
He goes on to quote a new Washington Post poll that finds that people are quite fond of the idea of a path to citizenship all by itself. Even 45% Republicans feel that way. So how is it, Sargent asks, that the Republicans can push the idea that a path to citizenship wedded with more boarder security is the extreme leftist position? Well, you could ask the same thing of just about every Republican position: the Democratic policy is the popular one and the Republicans run around screaming that the Democratic Party wants to enact Sharia law in America.
Part of what is going on is just that the Republicans continue to think that they brand their way around having the most unpopular policies in the history of democratic party politics. The leadership of the Republican Party still seem to think that they can win elections via talking points. But here’s the sad truth: they are largely correct.
Most people do indeed want to provide a path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented residents. But they don’t care all that much about it. Unless you personally know someone in this undocumented hellscape we’ve created, it doesn’t much matter to you. So when Mitch McConnell comes on the TV and explains the Democrats are being unreasonable, you don’t really care. “Just pass something!” you say. And if that means a path to residency, so be it.
I’m not suggesting that the Republicans will succeed at this, however. Right now, they have very little credibility with the people or the press. They’ve been crying Sharia for too long now. And they’ve done it with respect to some things that the people do care about. Remember George W. Bush’s tour to convince everyone that privatizing Social Security was a great idea? That not only didn’t work, it hurt the Republican disinformation machine.
But we need to push hard against these Republican propaganda campaigns. It is wrong to assume they are foolish to try or that they won’t succeed. They have in the past and I’m sure they will in the future.