There are a plethora of candidates for the biggest political story of last week. Who is in charge at SDNY? That is probably far from answered even at this publishing; certainly not at this writing. Then there is what happened at the Trump rally in Tulsa (a/k/a Coronapalooza); that event hasn’t even taken place as I pen this. I decided to focus on the Supreme Court’s DACA “decision”. That word is in quotes for good reason. Let’s explore.
Thursday the Court announced its 5-4 decision in Department of Homeland Security v Regents of the University of California, the challenge to DACA. The five justices in the majority were Chief Justice John Roberts along with associate justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor. Roberts wrote the opinion and if you read it carefully you will see that the Court did not rule on the merits of the case it ruled on the procedure the Trump administration used in its attempt to nullify DACA. In fact, the ruling was a road map as to how the Trump administration could kill DACA immediately and for at least the short run.
The question is whether Trump will do that and I contend it is very much unanswered leaving us with a dangerous situation. The Court has left the fate of about 800,000 young American residents in the hands of a madman.
President Obama gave life to DACA with an Executive Order therefore all Trump has to do is issue an Executive Order rescinding the program and it is all over; at least as long as he is president anyway. It is reasonable to assume that if not Trump himself, someone in the White House knows that. That begs the questions: Why didn’t he do that in the first place? Why didn’t it happen Thursday and will he do it sometime between now and leaving office?
The prevalent theory is that Trump really doesn’t want to touch this issue. We know he can write his name in cursive and loves to display that fact for the cameras. He chose not to do it instead passing the buck to then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The racist and xenophobic Sessions was only too happy to oblige and that didn’t work out too well. Or did it?
On Thursday, instead of simply having staff draft an Executive Order killing DACA and then displaying his signature to the cameras for Bubba to see at home that night, Trump decided to issue a woe is me tweet, “Do you get the impression that the Supreme Court doesn’t like me?” The Court’s decision had nothing to do with Trump except for his incompetence and lack of the courage of his (professed) convictions.
That leaves us with the all-important issue of what Trump will do between now and when he leaves office (which may not be January 20, 2021).
From a partisan political standpoint the Democrats have to use the issue to motivate voters to get to the polls in November convincing them that if Trump is reelected he will kill DACA. If he were to issue an Executive Order killing it between now and the election that would be a major Democratic get out the vote tool which is why I do not think it is likely unless Trump feels that by motivating Bubba more than the opposition he will gain sufficient votes in crucial battleground states to make the difference between victory and defeat. Or it’s a Hail Mary.
That brings me to Bubba, the racist and xenophobic white person, (mostly males), who constitutes a large portion of his loyal base. I don’t think Trump personally cares about the DACA beneficiaries. In fact I don’t think Trump much cares about undocumented residents in America. He doesn’t like them but he and many of his financiers find them useful in that they are a supply of cheap and exploitable labor. The dirty little secret few are willing to talk about is that in the not that distant future America will have a labor shortage, especially in low paying and less appealing jobs (i.e. landscaping, meat packing plants and harvesting crops.) The people Trump is trying to deport today are the same people we will need to recruit in the future. I know I’m to a degree conflating DACA with the rest of immigration but the two are far from inseparable.
Remember Trump cares about money and doesn’t care about America as long as he and his financiers can make a short term profit. (Neither are long term thinkers. Want proof? Just look at their stance on climate change.)
Politically the Democrats have to communicate to motivatable voters that Trump is a danger to DACA and Democrats aren’t. The other lesson that was reinforced by this ruling is that Chief Justices regard the Court as their Court because they know history takes that view and they do not want to be on the wrong side of history.
For this situation to be “permanently” resolved we will need legislation. (Any legislation will be tested in court.) In order to get said legislation the Democrat will have to control both chambers; possibly including a filibuster proof majority in the Senate. The Democrats also need to make that part of their GOTV effort.
For today the DACA decision is a great victory, but it is far from game over! My particular fear is the time between now and the end of Trump’s first term. If there is a second term he will no longer need Bubba’s vote and since Trump really considers Bubba to be a loser he will totally disregard him after November 3rd.
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