Watching some of the talk radio programs, the coverage on television, and the Virginia blogosphere, the reaction to the Senate’s vote to revive the dead amnesty for illegal aliens bill is something like the detonation of a political bomb. Here in Virginia, reliable Republican bloggers are deserting the Republican party and heaping scorn on a party apparatus that they have been very strong in defending, and talk radio is throwing the party leadership under the bus. Approval numbers for congress and the president are dropping to fifteen year lows, and citizens who otherwise wouldn’t be getting involved in lobbying are melting phone lines to the point that some Senators have stopped answering their phones. It’s hard to find a precedent for this kind of disaffection with government unless you go back to the time of the demise of the Whig party.
The closer legislators are to their constituents, it seems the more in-tune they are on this issue. Loudoun Supervisor Mick Staton, Delegate Scott Lingamfelter and Senator Ken Cuccinelli are two (of many) examples of local Republican elected officials who are vocal in their opposition to this plan and willing to bring the heat on their party leadership for this unconscionable position. Northern Virginia Republican Congressmen Wolf and Davis aren’t quite so vocal, but are clearly not supporting this amnesty plan. Senator Warner has gone insane (yet again) and is supporting this abomination, and is one of those Senators who cannot be reached by phone at his DC office. And the president, well, it’s difficult to say his actions are anything other than treasonous. The farther up the food chain they are, the less they seem to care about what their constituents think.
This is going to pose a huge problem for Republicans in the future. Although local legislators tend to be better on this issue, if the top of a Republican ticket is associated with this sort of behavior it’s going to be very difficult for local candidates to avoid being associated with the up-ticket millstone. Even in 2007, when there isn’t a presidential race, the national political landscape will significantly impact local races just as they did in last year’s election. If Republican presidential candidates don’t start assigning blame for this fiasco where it really should reside — with President Bush — they greatly risk being viewed in the next presidential election as a surrogate for amnesty policies, even though that brings great risk during a primary season. Otherwise, getting Republicans to the polls is going to be a lot harder.
Hillary Clinton’s chances of being elected president in 2008 just got significantly better, and along with that may come a significant number of state-level Democrats being elected in the 2007 elections. Unless there’s some strong leadership on this issue soon that puts an end to these amnesty proposals and re-establishes the Republican “brand”, it’s looking like a much more difficult election year for Republicans than it did a few weeks ago.
Didn’t something like this happen to the Whigs?
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