Have you noticed a certain silence among not only Democratic candidates but their supporters in the streets and their enablers on cable news and in newspapers? Oh, they’re all still making plenty of noise, but there’s one thing you’re not hearing. The calls to “Abolish ICE!” which dominated the majority of the summer months have been replaced by the sound of crickets. So stark is the contrast over only a ten or so week period that even NBC News was forced to take note of it.
With just days to go before the midterm elections, the “Abolish ICE” issue has all but vanished from the radar.
The topic, which had initially been forecast by some politicos as a hot new issue for Democrats, and a possible litmus test for candidates seeking support from the progressive wing of the party for 2020, is largely gone from rallies and speeches. That’s due to what experts say is its failure to resonate with mainstream Democratic voters, a misplacing of blame for the nation’s immigration crisis and a successful counter-attack from Republicans, including President Donald Trump.
The biggest factor in the Democrats’ abandonment of the issue, Democratic strategists said, was that it deflected blame from those who they believe are responsible for creating a wave of new, harsh and divisive immigration policies.
Those are about the best excuses NBC News could hope to come up with, I suppose. The call to abolish our primary immigration enforcement agency “didnt’ resonate” with mainstream Democratic voters. And it “shifted the blame” away from the real culprit. (That, of course, would be Donald J. Trump.) If those explanations don’t make any sense to you, give yourself a cookie. You’ve cracked the code.
The real reason is that they knew they were tanking their chances at winning an election. After hammering away at the message for most of the summer with the full support of most of the mainstream media, the end of August brought some bad news. Polling showed that they hadn’t moved the needle a bit. Less than a quarter of voters (including a similar percentage of Democrats) were willing to consider abolishing the agency. They were losing the battle for hearts and minds badly.
As recently as that period in the final week of August, the New York Times was running an opinion piece literally titled, “The Power of Abolish Ice.” In it, they praised Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for her “bravery” in endorsing this policy and credited her stand on the subject for not only propelling her into the lead but pushing the party further to the left. How enlightening, eh?
But no matter how much they claimed it was an important moral stand to take, once the numbers sank in the Democrats folded their hands and walked. Almost as if it was a coordinated effort, you stopped hearing virtually anything about it on CNN or MSNBC. The Washington Post suddenly didn’t seem so interested in covering the subject. And now they’ve all fallen silent. That’s some real dedication to principles for you.
But here’s something to keep in mind: just because they’ve stopped talking about it doesn’t mean it’s forgotten. It’s just gone into the category of “things we don’t talk about until we get elected.” You can bet that if the Democrats take the House they’ll be trying to significantly defund ICE at a minimum when budget negotiation time comes around. They may not be able to “abolish” ICE, but they can certainly try to hogtie it.