Intrade odds for Obama’s reelection are hovering over 50% – historically good odds. Not many people have very high hopes for the Republican field of nominees. Obama’s teams have been preparing for Romney for a long time (in a head to head match-up, Obama consistently beats Romney), and since many Iowa caucus-goers take “electability” as an important consideration, we are probably not looking at an 11th hour Ron Paul lead (although I wouldn’t underestimate the fact that he has the strongest “boots on the ground” presence than the other candidates).
But this isn’t about the Republican field. This is about the likelihood of four more years of Obama, and what conditions the pro-migrant movement will have to work with.
We can assume that there will continue to be gridlock. The Democrats have over two dozen seats in play in the Senate. It might be lost, compounding the problems we already have with a House of Representatives that swings jerkily to the right.
If only, some people will say, if only Democrats had the House and the Senate. Then we would get somewhere. That’s why it is important to vote.
Maybe. I wouldn’t concede that at this point, focusing on congressional races is much more important than the presidency. But even winning back the chambers guarantees nothing. We had that chance in the last congressional cycle, and it was lost. Democrats had the presidency, the House, and the Senate; the DREAM Act still failed.
Gridlock, for this political system, is normal operating procedure. Cronin, from the same Daily Beast article, quotes a historian on this topic:
“Where the country is not sure what ought to be done,” wrote historian Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., “it may be that delay, debate and further consideration are not a bad idea. And if our leadership is sure what to do, it must educate the rest of us—and that is not a bad idea either.”
Sounds about right. I can still hear senators on the floor in 2010 declaring that they “needed more time” and couldn’t understand why we were “rushing” to pass the DREAM Act.
We’ve been talking about the possibility of Obama using an executive order for a while. Maybe there will be a better chance that Obama will use it after 2012, since he won’t be worrying about reelection anymore. However, he will still have to worry about governing, and the idea of alienating Congress with unilateral action may force Obama to shy away from bold moves. But could Congress possibly be more alienated than it is now? A House that literally says “no” to everything, even the things with which it agrees?
The Obama administration has proven, at least to itself, that it can act unilaterally. Obama signed many executive orders, including initiatives that could help 1.6 million college students repay their federal loans, 1 million homeowners meet their mortgage payments, and 8,000 veterans find jobs.
A note about executive orders – they cannot appropriate money, and they can be undone by the courts, Congress, and the next sitting president. In other words, they’re decisive action, but they can be undone.
In the past year, we among many other organizations have been calling for an executive order to stay deportations for those who are DREAM-eligible or simply don’t qualify as a criminal threat to the nation.
So far, all we’ve gotten are memos that don’t make their way to ICE offices anywhere- and especially not in Mobile, Alabama. But the possibility still exists of getting an executive order.
If Obama were to take the bold moves that we want him to, he would be scoring some serious points with the Sexist Voting Bloc Alive: Latinos (I say that because pundits talk about the Latino vote like it’s the Holy Grail), and making a down payment for Democrats on the election cycle in 2016. But nobody except he would be able to really take credit for that- so it would be a hollow victory.
It’s an overused metaphor, but it really does feel like a chess game. Politicians want to be elected and re-elected. Political parties want voting blocs. Democrats want to show Latinos that they’re their champions to secure their vote. Republicans don’t want Democrats to have the Latino vote, but after a barrage of anti-immigrant and voter-ID laws in states across the country, apparently they aren’t sure they want anybody to have the Latino vote (or the youth vote, or the vote of any minority group…).
Which leaves the last players in the game. Us.
In the past year, people have had to swallow the bitter pill that was December 18th, 2010 and get on with the business of surviving, which is in itself an act of resistance. And it seems that resistance – all the organizing, educating, activating that has happened in Alabama, California, Illinois, New York, and online – is also an act of survival.
I started writing this post hoping that I could play out the possibilities for us into the future. Things look pretty grim where deportation relief or a path to citizenship is concerned. Our deliverance, for now, are the communities that we create together, providing solidarity, support, and good humour so that we can resist to survive. Don’t be afraid. Don’t be alone. We’re waiting for your email. We are all here for you.