Strong Tea: How the Tea Party Helped Sink the DREAM Act
If you want to understand the power of the Tea party, and more importantly, the power of winning primary battles, read this postmortem on the defeat of the DREAM Act.
They tried mightily to convert the many vulnerable 2012 Democrats with threats, but were only successful in a handful. But they converted nearly every 2012 Republican who had previously supported immigration reform.
I suspect one of the reason we did so much better with the smaller group of Republicans facing re-election was that they are more likely to believe that they might face Primary opposition from within their own Party if they support amnesty.
In fact, pro-enforcement Republican members of the Indiana state legislature are already exploring challening Sen. Lugar in 2012.
And they predict primary challenges for Democrats from the right. This isn't the first time I've heard this, by the way. Now I don't know if it's just wishful thinking, but in the age of Citizen's United, it seems to me that shennanigans are possible with this sort of thing.
Compare and contrast the Democratic strategy:
Whenever Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez (D-Ill.) and other immigrant-rights advocates asked President Obama how a Democratic administration could preside over the greatest number of deportations in any two-year period in the nation's history, Obama's answer was always the same.
Deporting almost 800,000 illegal immigrants might antagonize some Democrats and Latino voters, Obama's skeptical supporters said the president told them, but stepped-up enforcement was the only way to buy credibility with Republicans and generate bipartisan support for an overhaul of the nation's immigration laws.
On Saturday, that strategy was in ruins after Senate Democrats could muster only 55 votes in support of the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, a measure that would have created a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children. Under Senate rules, Democrats needed 60 votes to overcome Republican opposition to the bill. The House of Representatives had passed the measure this month, 216 to 198.
The irony of the DREAM Act's failure is that it had strong bipartisan support at the start of the administration, and advocates thought it could generate momentum for more policy changes.