‘Birthright citizenship’ debate opens window into GOP

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Donald Trump’s new policy prescriptions on illegal immigration, particularly on “birthright citizenship,” have crystallized the terms of the debate among conservatives and indeed what it means to even be conservative.

To be truly conservative on illegal immigration now requires that you oppose birthright citizenship as it has historically been defined under the 14th Amendment. Trump, Scott Walker, Ted Cruz and others are taking stands on one side of that line; so far, Jeb Bush, John Kasich and Marco Rubio are on the other side. And when Bush has to inject a loaded term such as “anchor baby” into the discussion, as he did yesterday, you know that the shift has left him exposed and vulnerable.

All of which is driving more moderate Republicans to despair.

“It’s a terrible idea. It’s a politically insane idea. It can’t be done. It’s impossible to achieve,” Peter Wehner, senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center and former official in the George W. Bush White House, told Politico. “So what’s the point? It’s symbolism and it’s exactly the wrong kind of symbolism. If Republicans want to make this their symbol … they’ll pay a high price for it.”

He’s right of course, at least when judged from a pragmatically political point of view.  There is no feasible means by which U.S. citizenship can be denied to those born on American soil. It simply isn’t going to happen. And to the degree that such a policy becomes associated with the Republican Party, it ensures that outreach to the Hispanic community is doomed.  The RNC’s post-2012 “autopsy” of the Republican loss to Barack Obama warned that “many minorities wrongly think that Republicans do not like them or want them in the country,” and it’s hard to conceive of a policy more likely to cement that perception than an assault on birthright citizenship.

But let’s look at it another way. What if the fact that the policy could never be achieved is part of its attraction? What if the political price to be paid for that position isn’t beside the point, but IS the point?

We’ve seen the dynamic play out for years now, and this is only its most recent iteration. If it looks as though the mainstream may be moving in its direction, the conservative instinct is not to reach out and meet it halfway and thus make policy gains. The instinct is to withdraw still further, to retreat from possible agreement and thus preserve the distance that defines it from the mainstream.

Thus, it’s not enough any longer to merely oppose abortion. The once-standard conservative position has become more extreme — outlawing abortion even in cases of rape, incest and to protect the life of the mother, with human life defined in all instances as beginning at the moment of conception.  That policy is a taunt of sorts to the mainstream: “Ha! Compromise with that!!” By taking that position, the line separating conservatism from the mainstream becomes even more impregnable, so to speak.

Such positions also serve as a test of group loyalty, a means of dividing “them” from “us.” How to identify the fellow true believer from the moderate? By constantly raising the price of membership and seeing who will pay it. “Who will come with us?” they ask. “This is the new boundary, the line that divides us from them. Who will join us on this side of the line, and who will refuse?”

Viewed through that lens, what looks like an act of self-destruction from the outside is in fact self-preservation. What matters to conservatives is not the specific policy or position that is being rejected. What matters is the act of rejection itself. It is through rejection of the mainstream by conservatives, and the rejection of conservatives by the mainstream, that today’s conservatism defines and protects itself.** So they court and provoke it.

In fact, you hear the same question being asked within the conservative movement all the time now, in various forms: How can we compromise with a world that we distrust and dislike, yet still remain separate from it? The answer for many is that they cannot. Compromise implies absorption and a surrender of identity, and thus must be avoided.

Let me quote again from that post-2012 autopsy:

“The Republican Party needs to stop talking to itself. We have become expert in how to provide ideological reinforcement to like-minded people, but devastatingly we have lost the ability to be persuasive with, or welcoming to, those who do not agree with us on every issue.”

Again, from a purely pragmatic point of view, that makes sense if your goal is to expand the party’s reach. But what if a significant portion of the Republican Party does not see that description as a problem for the party, but as a statement of the party’s purpose? What if they want it to be a haven that provides ideological reinforcement to beleaguered like-minded people like themselves, and are willing to pay the price for that?

Wouldn’t you get what we seem to be getting?
————
** For example, Trump’s most endearing quality to conservatives is his willingness to stick a finger in the eye of the mainstream, in blissful disregard for any consequences.
 

Reader Comments 0

1333 comments
Lunaville
Lunaville

So ... Republicans have taken a brave, patriotic stand against the Constitution? Does the Constitution oppress them? Is the Constitution unAmerican in their view? Is their motto "Why merely repeat history when you can out-crazy the xenophobes in previous generations?"


The "Know-Nothing" Movement has been revived to our detriment.


A reminder of some of the immigrants that have, at times been unwelcome in this country. The following is not exclusive:


Catholics

Chinese

French

Germans

Haitians

Irish

Italian

Japanese

Jews

Mexican

Polish

Quakers (esp. in Massachusetts)


Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

Construct one for a bunch of camel humpers

Real red-letter week this is shaping up for you, DiA.

THEFEEBLELIBERAL
THEFEEBLELIBERAL

remember when BIDEN told the guy in the wheel chair to stand up


lol



td1234
td1234

Another one of those evil right wing news sources that find Clinton sent and received classified emails on he private email server. 


"a Reuters examination of the emails and the relevant regulations has found.

The new stamps indicate that some of Clinton's emails from her time as the nation's most senior diplomat are filled with a type of information the U.S. government and the department's own regulations automatically deems classified from the get-go — regardless of whether it is already marked that way or not.

In the small fraction of emails made public so far, Reuters has found at least 30 email threads from 2009, representing scores of individual emails, that include what the State Department's own "Classified" stamps now identify as so-called 'foreign government information.' The U.S. government defines this as any information, written or spoken, provided in confidence to U.S. officials by their foreign counterparts.

This sort of information, which the department says Clinton both sent and received in her emails, is the only kind that must be "presumed" classified, in part to protect national security and the integrity of diplomatic interactions, according to U.S. regulations examined by Reuters.

"It's born classified," said J. William Leonard, a former director of the U.S. government's Information Security Oversight Office (ISOO). Leonard was director of ISOO, part of the White House's National Archives and Records Administration, from 2002 until 2008, and worked for both the Bill Clinton and George W. Bush administrations.

"If a foreign minister just told the secretary of state something in confidence, by U.S. rules that is classified at the moment it's in U.S. channels and U.S. possession," he said in a telephone interview, adding that for the State Department to say otherwise was "blowing smoke."

Reuters' findings may add to questions that Clinton has been facing over her adherence to rules concerning sensitive government information. Spokesmen for Clinton declined to answer questions, but Clinton and her staff maintain she did not mishandle any information."


http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/08/21/us-usa-election-clinton-emails-idUSKCN0QQ0BW20150821

StraightNoChaser
StraightNoChaser

@td1234 If Hillary is not deemed as a threat to the Republican party why the overkill with e-mail gate?  You yourself said that the birther Trump is getting blue dog democrats and independent voters so why the obsession?  

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

A smallish Southron footie-stadium, Alabama, buncha Trump devotees. 

Friday night lights (Battle Flags optional?)

Should provide sufficient media circus hootin' and hollerin' over the weekend to make Erick Son-of-Erick weep, if Team Trump hasn't fcrewn it up.

(And yes, I am So Old I can remember when they called this the "silly season.")

Robert1959
Robert1959

‘Birthright citizenship’ debate opens window into GOP - On July 2, 2014 the "American People" celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act. President Obama and the American People changed the direction of the USA forever by winning the White House in 2008 and 2012 as the 1st Black American President of the USA. Much to their shock and dismay, President Obama was re-elected, becoming the first person since Dwight Eisenhower to win two consecutive presidential races with more than 51 percent of the vote. No longer can the GOP rely on winning all the southern states and rally the rebels all across the USA (old white people) and win the White House (50 year old - Southern Strategy). That racist strategy is broken beyond repair.  Birthright citizenship is another way for the GOP to declare "war" on the Voting Rights Act? 


Any GOP candidate (Ryan, Rubio, Bush, etc.) serious about running for President in 2016 must issue an immediate apology to the "American People" for the unethical conduct (hatred, fear and bigotry) displayed by the GOP/tea party over the past 7 years. We are all Americans.  
 
The latest Polls strongly suggest the next President of the USA will most likely be a Woman or another minority candidate (Hispanic, Asian, etc.). The good news is our young people will live in a USA that looks and acts just like they do. Some of you commenting on this site will be dead by 2024 and will never see the 1st Hispanic or 1st Asian American President of the USA. I forgive you. May God have mercy on your sinful Soul.  
 
The American People...  
(elderly, disabled, young people, women, minorities, LGBT, Christians, Muslims & Jews, etc.)  

StraightNoChaser
StraightNoChaser

@Robert1959 The only thing I disagree with is your 2024 comment, minus any unforeseeable circumstances I am much to young. 

LeninTime
LeninTime

I mean, come on, let's face it, it's easy to draw these massive crowds such as the ones expected in Alabama when the message is basically, 'vote for me and you get free stuff'.

LeninTime
LeninTime

@JohnnyReb 

your use of the word "extremism" is incorrect.  Base beliefs would be more accurate.

**
The truth of one does not rule out the truth of the other. 


Your thinking that our beliefs are extreme are a clear indicator of hopeless bleeding heart.

**
It's 'bleeding heart' to point out that it's madness to entertain the idea of deporting millions of people from this country as a serious possibility? 

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

@LeninTime @JohnnyReb


It's 'bleeding heart' to point out that it's madness to entertain the idea of deporting millions of people from this country as a serious possibility? 

Yes.

THBAEOSATSQ.

KUTGF
KUTGF

The point is, his campaign clearly shows the ground swell against, basically, all things Liberal.

You could run Little Barry again and not win. 

__________________________


You mean Trump's liberal positions are a rejection of liberal positions?  Oh do tell me more. 

td1234
td1234

@Brosephus And? What is different about this than when any Republican is President? 

Nick_Danger
Nick_Danger

@KUTGF 

He appeals to the Republican electorate because the elected republicans are all promise, with no follow-through. 

Trump's supporters hope that he might actually DO something.

Brosephus
Brosephus

@alexander2 

http://www.rushlimbaugh.com/daily/2009/01/16/limbaugh_i_hope_obama_fails

"If I wanted Obama to succeed, I'd be happy the Republicans have laid down. And I would be encouraging Republicans to lay down and support him. Look, what he's talking about is the absorption of as much of the private sector by the US government as possible, from the banking business, to the mortgage industry, the automobile business, to health care. I do not want the government in charge of all of these things. I don't want this to work. So I'm thinking of replying to the guy, "Okay, I'll send you a response, but I don't need 400 words, I need four: I hope he fails."--Rush Limbaugh January 16, 2009

I think you have the wrong guy about that hope thing.

alexander2
alexander2

@Brosephus @alexander2 I think you googled hope and found something. you wanted to find, not anything that suggested I was wrong......Hope and change.... I hope you can do better--now google that...

consumedconsumer
consumedconsumer

@td1234 Most people don't hope the POTUS fails. That's what's different. They may not like the policies, but don't want a failed Presidency. You know, that Country First thing y'all are always proclaiming . . .

JKLtwo
JKLtwo

I would like to see Biden get in the race.  What would the Democrat's campaign scene look like when the top two candidates aren't allowed to speak in public because it's too embarrassing?

-Today on the campaign trail, Sanders plays stadiums while Clinton and Biden strategize...

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

You Lefties are completely missing the point on Trump.


He may or may not be the nominee.  However ----


The point is, his campaign clearly shows the ground swell against, basically, all things Liberal.


You could run Little Barry again and not win. 

TBS
TBS

Don't forget you said this

LeninTime
LeninTime

@JohnnyReb 

You could run Little Barry again and not win. 

**
Well we knew that. As I've said here repeatedly, you ran a walking parody of arrogant Wall St. privilege in 2012 against a greatly weakened and compromised Obama, but he still won. 

Trump offers the prospect of breaking with that pattern because of the no holds barred extremism of his rhetoric and on one of the right's most cherished issues, immigration.

BuckeyeGa
BuckeyeGa

More like against the current Republican leadership. .Hence a lit of Washington like Will is against Trump

Also Did you think Romney would defeat President Obama?

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

@LeninTime @JohnnyReb - your use of the word "extremism" is incorrect.  Base beliefs would be more accurate.

Your thinking that our beliefs are extreme are a clear indicator of hopeless bleeding heart.

kitty72
kitty72

@JohnnyReb 


It isn't about all things liberal. It is about your GOP being all talk and no action. Hat but no cattle. Promise all these things and yet the GOP does  nothing. It is frustration with the GOP and Congress in general especially since the GOP controls it and still does nothing but pander and posture. Put up bills for Obama to veto. Then you can blame him, but nada, zilch, zero. There is the problem.

CherokeeCounty
CherokeeCounty

@JohnnyReb 

'ground swell against, basically, all things Liberal'?  Do you realize how silly that is?

The guy supports Planned Parenthood, would not end the Iran deal, wouldn't send troops to Ukraine, doesn't really believe in supply side economics, doesn't want to cut Social Security and Medicare, supports a ban on assault weapons, etc.

If he weren't a big mouth guy who wants to end immigration, you'd call him a RINO.

Numbers_R_Us
Numbers_R_Us

@JohnnyReb That's odd given that Trump is actually drawing support from the Republican base of malcontents.

consumedconsumer
consumedconsumer

@alexander2 the Democratic base is still GOP light for the most part. See Headley here at times. The ones conservatives hate and think typify all Democrats only wish they were the base, then the Democrats might get back to acting like, well, Democrats. Anyway, that era's gone. Guess we'll see what takes its place - for both parties. 

LeninTime
LeninTime

@JohnnyReb 

They are expecting 30 to 40 thousand to attend.

**
Must be all the talk of 'free stuff' drawing the crowds (free walls, free roundups, free enforcement crews, free concentration camp construction and administration, etc). 

Easy to draw crowds when the hordes are being told that these things simply pay for themselves.

THEFEEBLELIBERAL
THEFEEBLELIBERAL

time for the feeble little liberal mind to switch to a new "old" topic


man-made climate change


and the vast numbers of devastating hurricanes we've had since Katrina


wait, what?


none.....................uhhhhhh


ohhhhh,  pacific cyclones 


they are now more powerful and more of them now...... see proof


wait, what?


el nino is the cause, and el nino is not related to man-made climate change


uhhhhhhhhhhhh


wild fires


there's the proof of man-made climate change


we are having more and more devastating wild fires


lol

Numbers_R_Us
Numbers_R_Us

@THEFEEBLELIBERAL That was indeed feeble.  Meanwhile, July was the hottest month on record and I already know that the record for actual thermometer-based data does not extend back to your good old days when dinosaurs roamed the earth and temperatures were higher and mankind feasted on brontosaurus eggs that could feed a stone-age family of 40... so spare me any of your ignorance-shielding silliness.