The Obama Administration is allowing Republicans to take the lead on immigration reform in hopes of getting something done. The GOP, on the other hand, needs to succeed in order to demonstrate it is more than the opposition Party, so it has a chance at winning in 2014 and beyond. Unfortunately, the current political dynamic is one that punishes cooperation and rewards defiant behavior. Because a win on comprehensive immigration reform would give Democrats an edge in defining itself as the party of progress and cooperation, Republican needs to frame their effort to pass immigration reform legislation as standing up to the Democrats and Obama.
Accordingly, it will be tempting for Republicans to put forward provisions that will be unacceptable to the Left, thus forcing President Obama to offend his base in order to get something done or block Republican efforts. In other words, allowing House Republicans to take the lead on this issue creates a high probability of failure while that failure will further undermine the GOP’s credibility as a Party capable of leadership and hurt President Obama as the leader of a dysfunctional political system. That said, a failure will help Democrats by making them look like a far more functional alternative to the GOP.
Unfortunately, immigration reform is not the most pressing issue of the day nor will addressing immigration reform have a terribly significant impact on the issues that are most important to Americans voters, so pursuing a near guaranteed failure on immigration reform is more or less a distraction from more pressing issues like tax reform and deficit reduction. Finally, a failure on immigration reform will only further demoralize the American People and cost the political system much of the little credibility it has left.
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