I should amend that headline. The odds are high, to a near certainty, that we’re going to be lectured about amnesty even if Trump wins. The blockbuster early voting among Latinos in Florida all but assures it. If Trump wins Florida, it’ll be by a margin slim enough that the GOP leadership will conclude that such a performance simply can’t be duplicated. Eventually enough young, Democratic-leaning Latinos will replace old, Republican-leaning whites in the population that even a white folk hero like Trump can’t hold Florida — or Nevada or Arizona or, gulp, Texas — by using the same strategy he used this time. The GOP’s business class will lean heavily on President Trump to get in front of that before 2020 by reaching out to Latino voters now with some type of comprehensive reform. That’s probably salable to Trump’s base so long as it comes with a wall. The sticking point will be a path to citizenship, but Chuck Schumer might be willing to step back from that in exchange for broad legalization, knowing that that will mutate politically into citizenship in due time. The question, really, is whether the pro-amnesty left-wing base will let him make that deal or whether they’ll insist on citizenship or bust. Schumer might be willing to play the long game. Progressives probably won’t be.
Needless to say, if Clinton wins this will be amplified many times over, particularly if the data shows that Latino votes were decisive tomoroow. Reince Priebus, having just finished serving as aide-de-camp to Donald “Build The Wall” Trump, will shift effortlessly back to Reince 2012 and resurrect the “autopsy” from that year calling on Republicans to pass immigration reform to get right with Latinos. There’ll be a lot of hype around Rubio as a presidential prospect again, particularly if he wins his Senate race in Florida and Trump loses the state to Clinton. Although Rubio will begin his second term with a new conundrum: Does he support the inevitable Clinton/Schumer amnesty plan in the Senate or not? My hunch is that he’ll find a reason to oppose it, knowing that he needs to protect his right flank for the 2020 primaries. By speaking up for the border hawk position he’ll win back some goodwill from conservative populists. And if he ends up as nominee in four years and President Hillary attacks him for having opposed amnesty this time, hey — he can always point to the Gang of Eight and say that he was for legalization before being for legalization was cool. Rubio will be just fine negotiating the next immigration push.
Not so Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan, though. Does McConnell try to filibuster the coming bill, knowing that he’ll be screamed at on all sides for antagonizing Latinos again if he does? If not, are there 10 Republican votes for cloture to help Democrats get to 60 (assuming a 50/50 Senate, that is)? McCain, Graham, and Flake will be in; you can probably find a few more with Susan Collins, Murkowski, and a few other centrists. But can they get 10? And if they do, what the hell will Ryan and the House do? They’ll be expected by the righty base to be a bulwark against Clinton, particularly if amnesty is her first big legislative initiative. Clinton probably won’t be willing to compromise either, knowing that a “take it or leave it” bargain puts Ryan in a position of getting on the wrong side of Latinos right out of the gate in 2017. Meanwhile, all of this is likely to be playing out against the backdrop of a battle between conservatives and nationalists for control of the party’s direction, with Trump grousing from the sidelines that he would have won if Ryan and Priebus had supported him more enthusiastically. With nationalists screeching that Ryan can’t sell out to Clinton and moderate Republicans howling that he should make a deal already and be done with this issue before it kills us in 2020, what does he do? Maybe he’ll pass the bill and then step down as Speaker. He never wanted the job in the first place. And who can blame him?
Here’s a couple of reminders from Andrew Kaczynski about just how strong Trump’s deep, principled opposition to amnesty is. Although you didn’t need this clip to know that. Remember, Trump grumbled after Romney’s loss in 2012 that Romney “had a crazy policy of self deportation which was maniacal” and that it seemed “mean-spirited.” I remember having written about that several times during the primaries this year, but it didn’t matter because Trump is politically incorrect ‘n stuff. His amnesty bill will be the best amnesty bill, that I can tell you.
lol, just found this video of Donald Trump in December 2012 saying if GOP doesn't pass immigration reform they won't ever win again. pic.twitter.com/ElHVFCgKgB
— andrew kaczynski (@KFILE) November 7, 2016