This tweet has gnawed at me for a couple of days.
Let me start by saying this. As a son of legal immigrants, I of course have lived a life far different than that lived by Ms. Andiola. I’m a citizen, I’ve gone to the best schools without fear, I’ve walked the streets without fear, I’ve been able to leave the US and return without fear. In other words, I’ve been able to live without a fear that I would suddenly be uprooted and expelled from the only home I’ve known. I know I have lived a very blessed life.
I wish the same freedom from fear for Ms. Andiola. And in confronting Rep. Steve King, she certainly shows that she’s taking her fate into her own hands. I commend her for that.
But. Ms. Andiola betrays a tic of certain sectors. That last part of her tweet—”Will Obama stand up 2 King too”—is not only gratuitous and discourteous, but lacking in all appreciation of the realities of what Pres. Obama is doing.
To start at the most recent point in time, here is President Obama’s statement on the travesty passed by the House GOP last week, before it secured final passage:
“They’re not even trying to actually solve the problem,” Obama said of the House GOP at a press conference from the White House. “This is a message bill that they couldn’t pull off yesterday, so they made it a little more extreme so maybe they can pass it today. Just so they can check a box before they’re leaving town for a month.”
And what would happen if by some miracle the House GOP’s border bill makes it to his desk?
The White House threatened Wednesday to veto the $659 million border bill crafted by House Republicans, calling it an insufficient bill that places “arbitrary and unrealistic demands” on the nation’s immigration system.
And these are just within the past week. Pres. Obama keeps pushing that the comprehensive immigration reform bill passed by the Senate by a wide bipartisan margin is the only way forward on the immigration crisis, and that the House GOP’s stroking of its rabidly xenophobic base is a non-starter.
Perhaps this isn’t enough evidence? How about this?
President Obama is preparing to announce new measures that would potentially allow millions of illegal immigrants to remain in the United States without fear of deportation, a politically explosive decision that could jolt Washington just weeks before the midterm elections, according to people who have been in touch with the White House.
Administration officials have told allies in private meetings that both the current surge of Central American children crossing the border and Congress’s failure this year to pass a broader immigration overhaul have propelled the president toward taking action on his own by summer’s end.
Obama aides have discussed a range of options that could provide legal protections and work permits to a significant portion of the nation’s more than 11 million undocumented residents, said Democratic lawmakers and immigrant advocates who have met recently with White House officials. Ideas under consideration could include temporary relief for law-abiding undocumented immigrants who are closely related to U.S. citizens or those who have lived in the country a certain number of years — a population that advocates say could reach as high as 5 million.
Words, just words! But, this is actually a big deal. Why?
Some Senate Democrats running for reelection in traditionally conservative states, such as Arkansas and Louisiana, have expressed misgivings about Obama going too far on his immigration order, fearing it will not play well among voters in their states.
So, executive action on immigration—in effect legalizing millions of undocumented migrants by the stroke of a pen—might threaten some Senate seats in the upcoming election. That’s a risk the president is obviously willing to take.
I know this isn’t as sexy as “standing up to King”, perhaps challenging him to a duel. But if one wants to make a big difference in the lives of the undocumented, one would think that siding with the man doing all that he can to bring that to fruition would be a wise political course.
Too often on the Left people have an image of Barack Obama as Rush Limbaugh’s “Barack the Magic Negro”: he’ll come in waving his hands and make everything better! And when they’re brought back to reality that politics is hard, dirty work, and nothing is guaranteed, the yelling commences, in expectation that by harrangues the Overton Window will magically move leftwards. The fact is that his voters were unsatisfied with his progress up to 2010, or were lured by the siren song of the Tea Party, and by not turning out to vote—”We voted in 2008! That’s all we thought we had to do!”—were responsible for the dysfunction in our politics since then.
President Obama never promised an easy path. That people took his words to mean that he would fix everything by fiat is on them, not him. “You are the change” has been his refrain, not “I am the change”. And Ms. Andiola, in many respects, is fighting for that change. But that tweet exemplifies the disrespect and dishonesty exhibited towards the president. It starts with a righteous condemnation of Steve King, bigot extraordinaire, but ends with a barely veiled “holding his feet to the fire” snark against Pres. Obama. The man, as I’ve just detailed, is the only one standing between Steve King and his greatest wish of deporting 11 million undocumented migrants.
Too many people don’t get the point: You don’t defecate on your ally because “he’s not doing enough”; you mobilize action so that he can do more. Will you get out and donate to Democrats? Will you make sure every Democrat you know in a competitive district or state will get out and vote in November? If not, then you are merely taking the easy way of blaming someone else for your lack of effort. And that’s something we can’t afford this year.
Ms. Andiola is correct in assessing that Rep. King is her enemy. I wish she could realize that Pres. Obama is her friend.