Scott Walker: No Amnesty and Limiting Legal Immigration?

I think I’ve enjoyed the Donald Trump Show as much as anyone.  I love his brashness, they way he commands the media, the way he takes control of every interview, and the best part, he never, ever apologizes.  I love the way he infuriates the Republican Party, the establishment Republicans, and most of all, the hated donor class, which has for all intents and purposes wrecked the Republican Party agenda for years.  I hope the Donald Trump Show gets picked up for another season and brings us the laughter and joy that comes from watching media experts get it wrong over and over and watching other politicos squirm.

So as much as I enjoyed the two debates and The Donald’s over the top performance, there was a little noticed bit of news that zeroed in my attention like a laser.  A response to a question to Governor Scott Walker about his change of position on immigration:

“There’s international criminal organizations penetrating our Southern base borders, and we need to do something about it. Secure the border, enforce the law, no amnesty, and go forward with a legal immigration system that gives priority to American working families and wages.”

As Walker made clear on Hannity, “gives priority to American working families and wages” means lower legal immigration. Walker’s immigration position has been slip sliding away from the standard Republican boilerplate of Secure The Border!/also pass amnesty, for several months under the guidance of economic nationalist and immigration guru Senator Jeff Sessions. But this is the first I’ve heard of any sort of definitive statement on a total rejection of Amnesty and actually limiting legal immigration.  However this has made so little news that most people, even those following the campaign closely, might not have picked up on it.

Right now, Walker isn’t really able to capitalize on it because Trump is sucking all of the oxygen out of the room.  Plus, he’s not really a super charismatic guy and I often get him confused with former SNL and 30 Rock actor Chris Parnell

Is this Walker?

Chris Parnell

 

 

 

 

 

 

Or is this Walker?

Scott Walker2

 

 

 

 

 

Who can tell?

With Ted Cruz also recently stating a definitive no on amnesty, this makes quite a difference between this group of candidates and the 2012 crowd, which except for Mitt Romney, all had some sort of amnesty plan, even the “conservatives.”  Why the difference?

I think it’s the Trumpenkreig.

As The Donald continues his long march through the Republican Party’s institutions, burning and pillaging as he goes, he is pushing the Overton Window a bit on immigration issues, making the formally forbidden to speak of (no amnesty) permissible. As I had hoped, Trump is pushing changes in what’s allowable for Republican candidates to say.  Some go overboard, like Mike Huckabee’s crazy statement about Obama holding the oven doors open for Israel. But with both Cruz and Walker just saying no to amnesty, Trump is forcing Republican candidates to stop being mealy mouthed and take a position.

This is good news in my opinion, so I’ll go pop some popcorn (extra butter) and continue enjoying the Donald Trump Show.

Six seasons and a movie.

 

 

 

Trump’s Wild Card

Ever since Donald Trump entered the race last month, the Republican battle has been upended in a way no one would have predicted.  Although he is derided as a clown and a bozo in both the main stream media and in conservative media and Republican Party circles, his speech announcing his entry into the Presidential race I found strangely compelling, as did the rest of the world.Trump

But we apparently heard different things.  If you are a member of the mainstream media, or an establishment Republican, what you heard was this:

“I’m Donald Trump, I’m super rich, and I hate Mexicans.”

That’s not what I heard.  What I heard was a not very coherent, but rarely heard appeal to the working classes of both parties:

-The country is in serious trouble.

-We’ve gotten the short end of trade deals, particularly NAFTA but also with Japan and China.

-The US is being taken advantage of.

-Illegal immigration is hurting us, not helping us. It’s bringing in crime, drugs, and illegals are stealing jobs.

-GDP and Employment is dropping, and the labor participation rate is skyrocketing.

-We need to bring jobs back to this country.

-The whole world is laughing at us, and I’m going to change that.

If you hadn’t heard his official announcement, it’s understandable if you think his oversized media attention is due mostly as a result of his celebrity status and his entertaining take downs of other Republican candidates.  I’d urge you to listen to it.  Yes, being a celebrity is part of it, but what everyone is trying to obscure is that if you take his mish mash of statements and boil it down, it comes down to a very clear policy direction.

Economic Nationalism.

Economic Nationalism used to be a fairly common populist trend in US politics, but in a certain sense, both parties have abandoned working class issues in favor of establishment concerns.  The Democrats started to abandon the working class after the New Left take over that begin during the 1968 Democratic Convention.  They support Labor Unions, but not labor.  The Republicans picked up the language and culture of the working class beginning with Reagan, but never went beyond the cultural concerns.  At this point, neither the Democrats nor Republicans provide more than lip service to real working class issues.

So multibillionaire real estate heir Donald Trump sounds like a breath of working class fresh air compared to the platforms of all of the other candidates. Illegal immigration cuts directly into wage rates for the unskilled and semi skilled working classes of this country, yet both parties to various degrees continue to support the idea; Democrats because they are courting future voters, and Republicans because they are courting a current low wage workforce with no employment or legal rights.

Opening trade with China and the expansion of NAFTA has resulted in losses on the order of one million to 3.7 million US jobs. Combined with the real threat that automation poses to both low end and high end jobs, the future isn’t very bright for the average worker, and even less bright for those on the left hand side of the Bell Curve.

So with 16 Republican candidates and 4 Democratic ones, only Trump is highlighting, and addressing these working class anxieties.

Try as I might, I just can’t take Trump seriously as a Presidential Candidate.  He’s too much of narcissistic celebrity blowhard.  But he’s a blowhard that has shown the Republicans a path to winning in 2016.  A clever Republican candidate could cherry pick and refine some of Trump’s economic nationalism agenda into a ticket that would be attractive to working class voters in swing states.

Will that happen?  I think it’s not too likely.  Everything that Trump is for, the establishment Republican Party and its donor base opposes.  Otherwise there would be multiple legitimate Republican candidates running on this platform instead of just Trump.  For the Republicans, Santorum and Walker are just dancing on the edges of working class populism.  For the Democrats: just Jim Webb. Bernie Sanders, as an old time class warfare leftist, started out that way, but has been shaped and molded by the identity politics left that now runs the Democrats out of that mold.

So the future for Trump candidacy?  He’s not getting the Republican nomination.  I think ultimately it’s too much work for a job that pays too little.  But his influence could be positive on the Republican Party if they manage to learn from his success and see what worked and borrow from it.  More likely though, the Republicans would rather form a circular firing squad and go after any candidate who shows any signs of “Trumpism” in order to please the donor class, with the end result that the Republican donor class will have helped to elect a Democratic candidate in 2016.

Scott Walker Peaking Too Early?

Scott Walker’s “surprise” win of the Kansas Straw Poll may be a shock to the establishment, but its zero surprise to me. Walker’s win has generated a flurry of articles on Walker as well as an appearance on This Week. But as far back as a year ago, I predicted Walker would probably be the best all around choice for the 2016 Republican primary process. He’s a governor of a purple/blue State who rose to national prominence battling the budget, pension reform, and unions.  He is attractive to both establishment types for a solid record of actually winning, and grass roots types for the ability to take on and wrestle to the ground left leaning special interests; something that’s not seen much these days.Scott Walker

Walker’s national prominence came about with his fight with Wisconsin public sector unions.  I wrote about the skirmish back in 2011 and thought at the time that Walker’s victory could have spelled the beginning of the end for public sector unions.  Alas, so far that victory has remained just Walker’s.   But the enmity he earned from both local and national Democrats and the left in general lead to a recall election, which Walker won handily.

By Republican standards, Walker is a stand out success story.  He battled the left and rather than backing down under a barrage of negative press, which Republicans traditionally do, Walker stuck to his guns and won a pretty substantial victory. Compare that to Jeb Bush, who’s sat out the various political battles since the 1990’s and now expects to ride in on a golden, donor financed chariot to be crowned the nominee based on the divine right of Bushes.

The Republicans do have a deep bench, at least compared to the Democrats.  In fact the Democrat’s bench consists of one person, Hillary Clinton.  If she gets sick, the Dems are in trouble for 2016. But the Republican’s bench consists of establishment types that are anathema to the base of the party, like Jeb Bush, and social conservative types that are anathema to the establishment like Mike Huckabee. The converged area on the Venn diagram of candidates that both the base and establishment can live with is almost as limited as the Democrats presidential bench.

Walker’s major problem with the base is his immigration position.  Walker has tried to be cagey and hold every position on the issue at once.  He has both supported a path to citizenship and made vague comments about fixing the system.”  However the fixing doesn’t seem to include border security or a wall.  In other words, he’s a pro amnesty open borders type, which should please the establishment wing.  Although I would love to make amnesty a disqualifier, the fact is there are no, I mean zero commonly mentioned Republican potential 2016 candidates that oppose amnesty.

In any case if Walker does enter the race, he’ll have to quit being cagy about immigration and speak directly to the issue.

But immigration isn’t even his biggest problem yet.  When I made my prediction on Walker last year, it was based on the idea that the talking heads and establishment media wouldn’t pay any attention to Walker until at least the Iowa Caucuses. But the results of the Kansas straw poll show that plenty of other Republicans were thinking along the same lines as I was.  The media has rediscovered Walker this week and they will remember in short order that they despise him. Walker is like Sarah Palin and Allen West combined, with a little Tom DeLay sprinkled on top. It’s too bad he couldn’t have flown under the radar a while longer, but if there is one Republican who knows how to fight back, it’s Scott Walker.