If one spends anytime following electoral politics, it is clear that the 2010 mid-term elections will rival any of the post WWII era in terms of decisiveness for the GOP. A common comparison in recent history would be the historic 1994 elections when the Democrat Party was defeated up and down the ballot in Congressional races, Gubernatorial races, and state legislative races. While each election cycle has differing variables and some comparisons are not exact, there are fundamentals that can be ascertained with certainty. One of these would be to sue over the democratic process with controversial issues when a clear majority of the electorate in not on your side.
In 1993-94, the then Speaker of the US House, Thomas Foley, decided to litigate the issue of voter-approved term limits for members of Congress. Granted, term limits is an issue of controversy mainly for incumbent members of Congress and the welfare state that relies on it, but the voters in Washington State approved the initiative by solid margins in 1992. Apparently, Foley believed so strongly that the voters erred; he personally financed efforts to overturn term limits in federal court. This angered a segment of his constituency so much that Foley became the first US Speaker to be defeated for re-election since 1862, which also saw five additional Democrat incumbent members of the US House lose in Washington State.
Some political analysts attribute Foley’s and many western Democrats’ defeats to gun control measures and the wave election throughout the country. However, the size of the wave in Washington State was such that suing the voters in the state undoubtedly exacerbated the situation.
Earlier this month, the Obama Administration, led by Attorney General Eric Holder, has decided to sue the state of Arizona over its recently enacted immigration legislation. Polling data consistently shows that sixty percent or more of people in Arizona and across the country are supportive of the law when key provisions are outlined.
At its essence, illegal immigration for the typical Americans is as simple as this: there is a process to enter this country legally, if you do not follow the process you have violated the law and are not deserving of any public benefits, including citizenship. However, when people really see the narco-trafficking and violence perpetrated by some illegal immigrants, these solid majorities are very supportive of efforts to secure and maintain the borders.
The media bubble in DC is beginning to catch on that immigration is a huge loser for Democrats, especially in the West. Having the President so vocal and public is imperiling many of Congressional Democrats elected in 2006 and 2008. The Presidential rhetoric was harmful enough but now the Attorney General will spend taxpayer funds to overturn the clear will of the Arizona legislature and that of the electorate in Arizona.
I would be the first to agree that principle is worth fighting for, especially if it means having the federal courts ensure the Constitutionality of the law. However, the state of Arizona has the Constitutional authority to make this decision and suing in federal court will only demonstrate further that the President is not sensitive to the severe issues facing law enforcement in Arizona. When the dust settles, at least three Arizona House Democrats will lose their re-election bids over the decision by Obama and Holder to litigate but that would seem to be a small loss when 2012 looms and base politics enter the fray.