Friday, November 09, 2012
The path to citizenship will be crooked for Republicans
A few more thoughts on the election and then I'll let it go:
Immigration. The Republicans are in trouble on immigration and citizenship no matter what they do. No change and they imitate the California Republican Party in relevance. Much of their elite seems to realize this and want to compromise, but the Democrats should put them through a wringer and demand everything the Ds think should happen: a reasonable pathway to citizenship for immigrants who have been here for a reasonable amount of time. The 1987 amnesty applied to people who had been in the country for over five years, setting them on a path to citizenship seven years after being legalized. Personally I'd lengthen the first period and shorten the second one, but it's a reasonable model for the future.
If the Rs refuse to pass something like this through Congress, then beat them up over it in 2014 while also getting the best compromise possible. If the Rs do pass something substantial, then they still lose, because those legalized citizens will be Democratic voters for a generation and a fraction. The Rs painted themselves into this corner, it'll be a long time to get out. The white vote share of the presidential electorate is declining 2 points every four years, probably translating into a one-percent gain each cycle for the Democratic candidate.
Denialists lost seats. In under-reported news, four out of five Congressional Representatives dubbed the "Flat Earth Five" by the League of Conservation Voters for denying climate reality lost their seats, and eleven of twelve generally anti-environment candidates also got beat. These people were specially targeted and I've been looking for more specifics; the League needs to update their website (a little update here). This is a nice bit of karmic payback for 2010, when most of the eight Republicans who voted to do something about climate lost their seats to primary challengers.
Citizens United redistributed income. Some billionaires redistributed a few percent of this year's income to the somewhat-less wealthy without causing too much harm at the federal level in this election. I'm not quite as sure they were harmless at the state and local level this cycle, and even the dumbest of rich people may learn to spend their unlimited campaign money more effectively in the future, again most likely by targeting it at the state and local level. Watch out for next time.
Overturning Citizens United. Obama will probably nominate 2-3 justices over the next four years. Ginsburg, age 79 and with previous cancer bouts, should have retired a year or two ago but took a huge risk hanging on. Hopefully she'll do the right thing, and Breyer, age 74, might do the same. The conservatives' ages are 76 (Scalia), 76 (Kennedy), 64 (Thomas), 62 (Alito) and 57 (Roberts). They'll do their best to last out four years, but might not have a choice.
Bahrain Silence = Climate Silence. Juan Cole had an interesting post about continuing repression in Bahrain against the Shiite majority. Too bad that Romney wasn't asked to compare his relative activism over Syria, which I liked, to the situation in Bahrain. Maybe the Republican talking heads on the Sunday shows could still get asked - this is the worst situation of the US looking the other way, for somewhat obvious military reasons.
Hanging up my local politics crystal ball. My water district had three elections, and I called all three wrong. It doesn't make the results bad - I'm actually thrilled that our funding measure that needed two-thirds' support under California law received 72.65% support, and it includes $24 million that helps prepare for sea level rise along San Francisco Bay. Staff's first draft had $5 million for this; I can (and will) take credit for much of the increased funding.
UPDATE: forgot to add my plea to reduce the Senate filibuster bottleneck, along with the actually-still-alive hope that Harry Reid might do it.
UPDATE 2: with actuarial tables and my trusty calculator, I get a 79% chance of four-year survival for each of Scalia and Kennedy, 93% for Thomas, 94% for Alito, and 96% for Roberts, leaving a 52% chance that all five will survive four years. Their health probably makes this an underestimate, but severe disability might also get one or two of them to leave if they really couldn't serve.