On Earth-2, Election Night 2012 turned out to be a very near thing for the Romney campaign. What was supposed to be a comfortable victory turned into a nail biter. While the campaign team was overjoyed when that 270th electoral vote was finally locked down, the celebration was tempered by the realization of how close they came to blowing it.
Turned out there was no margin for error. What if the “47%” video had come out in September rather than a couple of days earlier? Might have cast a pall over the entire fall campaign. Or what if New Jersey Governor Chris Christie hadn’t been hospitalized with a mysterious stomach ailment when Superstorm Sandy hit? A healthy Christie might have toured the damaged Jersey shore with President Obama, maybe giving the struggling campaign a needed fillip. And counting on Project Orca without a proper shakedown? A huge gamble that easily could have come back to bite them in the keister. Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good.
The first term of the 45th American president had hardly begun and his political team was already thinking about 2016. How to maintain or improve their showing among white, working-class voters while also beginning to reverse the GOP’s collapse among Hispanics. How to recover from Romney’s “self deportation” gaffe?
Senator Marco Rubio was tasked with shepherding a comprehensive immigration bill through Congress that would be worthwhile wonkery and, as a side benefit, helpful politics. Key elements of the package: Legalizing undocumented workers but providing them no path to citizenship without leaving the country and applying as a legal immigrant. Requiring low-skill immigrants post assimilation bonds. Using auctions to distribute most work permits and visas. Granting a green card to every foreign student who obtains an advanced degree in math, science, or engineering at a US university. Overall, a plan to a) create market-driven immigration policy geared toward producing a flexible, high-skill workforce that could adjust to technological change, and b) prevent another influx of undocumented, low-skill workers. …
Clearly, the Gang of Eight comprehensive immigration reform isn’t anywhere near what I just described. The guest worker program particularly seems a mess. But it’s better than the status quo, particularly in its attempt to make immigration policy better match future US workforce needs. It could use improvement. Some of that might happen in the Senate. Hopefully much more in the House. Now is the time for advocates of pro-growth immigration policy to shape the debate, not work to end it.