July 15, 2019

60-40 SQUAD:

AOC and "the Squad" Are Actually the Sensible, Mainstream Centrists in Their Fight With Nancy Pelosi (BEN MATHIS-LILLEY, JULY 15, 2019, Slate)

The original dispute between the freshman lefties and the ostensibly pragmatic/moderate members of the "Blue Dog" and "Problem Solvers" caucuses turned on whether the House should have taken extra time to negotiate with the Senate in order to insert care standards and accountability measures, like a requirement that Congress must be notified within 24 hours after the death of a child in custody, into the border-funding bill. The progressives wanted to take the time to advocate for such concessions, while, in the words of the Washington Post, the moderates "wanted to see the House act to address the border crisis, not get locked in a conflict with the Senate, especially with Congress about to leave Washington for a week-long Fourth of July recess." The Blue Dogs moreover wanted to protect funding for Border Patrol guards and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.

You can see what the moderates were thinking: They would score a bipartisan feather in their caps by passing an administration-friendly bill that included money for "border security" in addition to humanitarian relief, just in time for America's birthday.

Like many Democratic initiatives, this reasoning relies on a '90s-style model of what the average voter wants--a collaborative relationship between the president and Congress, say, and conservative-leaning immigration policies. But that model doesn't accord with polling in the Trump era. In 2018, large majorities of voters across the U.S. consistently told pollsters that they wanted to see a Democratic Congress elected to act as "a check" on the administration. This was true, as my colleague William Saletan pointed out at the time, not just in traditionally liberal areas but in swing states Trump won. In Arizona and Ohio, for example, voters--all voters, not just Democrats--said by 16-percentage-point margins (!) that their congressional votes were meant to "send a message that we need more Democrats to be a check and balance to Donald Trump" rather than to elect "Republicans who will help Donald Trump pass his agenda."

Trump's positions on border issues, meanwhile, are also landslide-level unpopular. A late-June CNN poll found that Americans disapprove of the way that Trump is "handling immigration" by a 57-40 percent margin, that 60 percent support "allowing refugees from central American countries to seek asylum in the United States" while only 35 percent do not, and that they choose "developing a plan to allow some people living in the U.S. illegally to become legal residents" over "deporting all people living in the U.S. illegally" 80 percent to 15 percent. The gap is too large to be just a partisan one, and a January Quinnipiac poll found that 50 percent of independents trusted Democrats in Congress more than Trump on the issue of border security against only 37 percent who trusted Trump, while an April Washington Post-ABC poll of "suburban" voters found that they disapproved, 42-33 percent, of the president's "handling of illegal immigration."

Given all of this, it would seem that the Democratic faction that's playing smart politics is the one advocating for tougher oversight of the Trump administration on an issue where swing voters generally take the Dems' side, and not the faction that wants to accommodate the administration and fund ICE.

Posted by at July 15, 2019 5:48 PM