The answer of principled opponents of the bill, faced with these patently deceptive and inauthentic opposition votes, is, of course … we’ll take ‘em! Every “no” vote counts at this point, because Senator Schumer has established a special, extraconstitutional hurdle on immigration: the bill needs 70 votes, he says, to have enough momentum to somehow bowl over House Republicans. If a nervous red state Senator engages in a bit of last-minute theatrics that reduces the final count to 68 or 67, that’s less meaningless than it usually is.
A Kabuki ”no” might not even be all that fake. On this issue, fake is real. For decades, after all, many legislators have in private supported some form of “amnesty” legislation–that’s like breathing in the enlightened Northeast Corridor culture. But they’ve been too scared to announce it publicly. The typical vote against amnesty has been an insincere, Kabuki vote. That’s as authentic as it gets, at least for most pols. Their Kabuki “no”is “real” in the sense that it reflects the real power of real constituents to force their representatives to reflect their actual beliefs.