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The danger in winning

November 17, 2014

When the election results started being called on the evening of November 4, 2014, a lot of people heaved a collective sigh of relief. The ones that didn’t started trying to craft messaging to explain why a lot of the so-called “hotly-contested” and “nail-bitingly close” races weren’t either of those things.

And of course the people who worked hard to insure that their particular Republican candidate  would go to Washington in January 2015 probably tipped more than an few celebratory glasses.

So much for the happy dance moment, since that only lasted until the next day.

Not surprisingly, the Democrats and their supporters had a plan in place to make their opposite counterparts wonder if anything had really changed.

Of course  it hasn’t, and the people who are supposed to be in the know weren’t surprised.

Take the President’s vow to double down on governance by executive order, starting with immigration.

Even Dr. Jonathan Gruber’s “stupid voters” and “stupid seniors” can see the President has no choice but to forge ahead along the path already traveled.

Any currency there was in continuing to dangle immigration reform as bait in front of Democratic voters has been spent. That account has a zero balance. There has to be a new deposit made, and the long-postponed executive order is that deposit. It’s also a great way to test how much control the Republican congressional leaders have over their more far-right members.

Of course the President could have signed an executive order just like the one he now proposes any time in the last four years, but now the game is to take any credit for intelligent handling of immigration issues away from the Republicans.

A high preponderance of the American public wants some sort of immigration reform. Everyone but the most rabid right-wing pundits knows that we have to address the people already living here without documentation and their children, born here over a period of years, if not a decade or more.

Some of what is outlined in the President’s ten-point plan bears a surface resemblance to many of the plans Republicans have floated for years. Border security, a better, faster and more accurate e-Verify system,  an efficient, faster path to legalization, some sort of quota system for highly qualified immigrant candidates are all facets of plans that have been floating around for years.

It would have been so easy, so imminently reasonable, for that ten-point plan to have become the basis for a bi-partisan discussion that would have a better-than-even chance of resulting in actual legislation.

If he wanted to govern rather than rule, the President could have said “Look folks, here is what I want to do, let’s work it out so we get all these people out of limbo, and I expect this thing to get done by June 1, 2015.”

That would have preserved his authority, given Republicans input, and resulted in a campaign promise fulfilled for both sides.

That’s not how this President and the liberal enclave works.

Instead, it’s back to the “let’s keep the government in turmoil, the people dangling, and make Republicans look powerless for as long as we can” operational plan.

In short, the ten-point plan and the threat to go it alone is the Washington equivalent of a temper tantrum.

The danger is that the far-right wing of the Republican party will react like a frustrated parent and decide to administer a good sound swat on the behind.

Anyone who’s ever tried that knows that the kid just howls louder, and since at least the kid got  the parent’s attention, the tantrums continue. More mature parents just ignore the tantrum and the kid by putting them in time out. Once the kid learns that bad behavior simply results in being ignored and no longer being the center of attention, they usually quit acting out.

The country didn’t get on the wrong track in one day, and putting it back on track and headed back toward the right route will take more than just finding the switch on election day.

Balancing between the real frustration expressed November 4 and training the kids to get attention the right way will be hard.

For the country’s sake, we’d better hope Republicans understand the time-out method.

From → op-ed

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