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Xenophobia backfired politically this year. In response to President Trump’s ugly, cynical and racist closing argument, Democrats won the popular vote by the largest midterm margin in history, flipped 40 House seats, limited losses on a brutal Senate map, flipped six governorships, and picked up nearly 400 state legislative seats.
Yet Trump is pretending like the midterms never happened. He is threatening a government shutdown unless he gets $5 billion for his wasteful, ineffective and insulting border wall. Republicans, fearful of crossing their Dear Leader, continue to march in lockstep with Trump. Moreover, GOP leaders refuse to take full stock of the short-term and long-term damage of tying themselves so closely to the president and his xenophobia.
Below are key voices exploring these dynamics:
Jonathan Martin, New York Times, Despite Big House Losses, G.O.P. Shows No Signs of Course Correction:
With a brutal finality, the extent of the Republicans’ collapse in the House came into focus last week as more races slipped away from them and their losses neared 40 seats.
Yet nearly a month after the election, there has been little self-examination among Republicans about why a midterm that had seemed at least competitive became a rout.”
President Trump has brushed aside questions about the loss of the chamber entirely, ridiculing losing incumbents by name, while continuing to demand Congress fund a border wall despite his party losing many of their most diverse districts. Unlike their Democratic counterparts, Republicans swiftly elevated their existing slate of leaders with little debate, signaling a continuation of their existing political strategy.
And neither Speaker Paul D. Ryan nor Representative Kevin McCarthy, the incoming minority leader, have stepped forward to confront why the party’s once-loyal base of suburban supporters abandoned it — and what can be done to win them back.
Leading political observer Ron Brownstein:
I am stunned by how little debate and discussion there has been by Republicans about the extent of their suburban wipeout.
Washington Post “Monkey Cage” analysis by University of Maryland associate professor Stella Rouse, Republicans’ hard-line stance on immigration may alienate millennials for years:
Trump’s anti-immigration approach may alienate millennial voters — and backfire on the Republican Party.
… Almost 7 in 10 voters (67 percent) ages 18 to 29, and nearly 6 in 10 (58 percent) of those ages 30 to 44, supported Democratic candidates. That’s mostly the millennial generation. Researchers who study party identification suggest that it’s “sticky” — that the party you vote for in your first few elections tends to harden and become your party for life. And while a number of issues probably contributed to their votes, their liberal attitudes on immigration may be important.
…Across a variety of measures, we found millennials to be significantly more favorable toward immigrants and immigration than older Americans.
… In 2016, Trump rode a hard-line immigration posture all the way to the White House. Since then, many Republican elected officials have embraced this stand as a winning platform. However, if millennials continue to have more liberal and tolerant attitudes toward immigration, this stance may hurt the Republican Party over the long term.
Politico’s Elena Schneider, Inside the GOP’s California nightmare:
Not only did the GOP get crushed in California, the party also got taken by surprise by the intensity of the backlash in the nation’s largest state, where Republicans projected confidence nearly all year before watching Democrats flip a whopping six House districts — and possibly a seventh. The nightmare results were the end result of a toxic brew of overconfidence and presidential unpopularity, as some Republicans failed to recognize and reckon with the unprecedented negative reaction to President Donald Trump in districts from Orange County to California’s agriculture-heavy Central Valley.
…“This is the death of the Republican Party” in California, said Mike Madrid, a Republican consultant in the state. “There’s no coming back from this for at least a generation, if not more.”
While Republicans continue to tie themselves to Trump, retiring Speaker of the House Paul Ryan stated publicly that the failure to enact immigration reform is one of his biggest regrets. Gabe Ortiz of Daily Kos writes:
…it was Ryan who flipped off frightened Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients like Angelica Villalobos, back in January 2017 assuring her and her young daughter on the eve of a Trump presidency that she had nothing to worry about. Ryan then put U.S. immigration policy entirely in the hands of racists like Iowa’s Steve King.
…Ryan has been no bumbling fool either, but instead a calculating accomplice to Donald Trump’s mass deportation force. When House Democrats and a smaller group of pro-immigrant House Republicans attempted to bypass Ryan’s inaction earlier this year and bring bipartisan legislation, like the DREAM Act, to the floor through a discharge petition, Ryan successfully sabotaged it.
Ryan also refused to take up legislation protecting other immigrants under threat by the Trump administration, including Temporary Protected Status (TPS) recipients, some of whom have had permission for decades now to live and work here but could now create the next family separation crisis.
…’I am happy to see you will dedicate more time to your family once you leave Congress, Speaker Ryan,’ wrote another DACA recipient, Juan Escalante. ‘I will do the same, because Dreamers will not and cannot ‘rest easy’ about our future or the future of our families in the U.S. under Trump.’’
According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice, “Kevin McCarthy has picked up where Paul Ryan left off: doubling down on Trump’s cynical and ugly xenophobic agenda. Together, they drove the GOP off the cliff, but now Ryan pretends good intentions and McCarthy sucks up to Trump. Republicans refuse to reckon with the fact that enabling Trump’s strategy of inciting racial hatred is backfiring with the majority of Americans. If they remain anchored to Trump, the GOP ship is going down.”