Introduction: My Hopes for the Election
With the 2016 election fast approaching, it is time to wrap up my series of blog posts on immigration issues and the election [see directory]. I have discussed important issues in this series such as the future of DAPA and the DACA expansion [see blog and blog], the immigration platforms of the major party [see blog] and minor party [see blog] candidates, and the debate over the disposition of those who are present in the United States without legal authorization [see blog]. To cap off the series, I will offer my proverbial endorsements for the President, Senate, and U.S. House while highlighting a few key races of national importance. After the election, I will finish the series with a post on the results and what they mean in the immigration context going forward.
1. Donald Trump for President
As I explained in the fourth post in this series, the 2016 Presidential Election is a proverbial porta-potty fire [see blog]. Both of the major party candidates — Hillary Clinton for the Democrats and Donald Trump for the Republicans — seem quite unlikely to be the next Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, or Ronald Reagan. The choices are so unpopular with the American people that it appears candidates other than the Democrat and Republican nominees will win a greater share of the vote in 2016 than in any election since 1996.
During the Republican Primary, my party had ample opportunity to pick from the deepest field of Presidential hopefuls in recent memory. As I wrote at the time, I believe that candidates such as Jeb Bush [see blog] and Senators Marco Rubio [see blog] and Ted Cruz [see blog] would have been exceptional Presidential nominees and ultimately successful Presidents. Unfortunately, a plurality of Republican voters delivered the nomination to Donald Trump instead, and the choice we are now left with is that between Trump and Clinton.
I have been harshly critical of Trump on this blog for his overall platform and character [see blog], his flip-flopping on immigration policy [see blog], and his inability to articulate coherent positions on the national stage [see blog]. Nevertheless, the choice is between Trump and Clinton, not Trump and the superior candidates from the Republican Primaries. For all of his flaws, Trump offers the hope of something better than the previous eight years. For whatever his pledge is worth, Trump promised to choose from a list of exceptional conservative jurists and legal minds for his Supreme Court pick, a decision of incredible importance for both immigration law and American law in general. While his immigration utterances are still incoherent, it is indisputable that he sounds closer to the mark now than he did in the primary or when he was more liberal before his Presidential run. Finally, as President, Trump would have access to the best conservative policy advisors and intellectuals available. While there is no promise that he would avail himself to the best counsel, I am optimistic that a President Trump would, wanting to be a “winner” in the White House, be open to the advice of the “best people” available to him.
While Trump is awful, I have also written extensively about why Hillary Clinton would make a terrible President [see article]. Clinton has little interest in immigration reform aside from granting amnesty to as many persons as possible; ensuring that the mistakes of previous immigration reform efforts would be repeated again. While Trump's promises regarding appointing good judges may be dubious, Clinton is nearly assured of appointing Judges who would endanger key provisions of the First, Second, and Tenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. Furthermore, while we should all be concerned about Trump's severe character flaws and personal indiscretions, Clinton willfully mishandled classified information as Secretary of State, and there are additionally serious concerns about the intersection of her family's charitable foundation and the official business of the U.S. Government.
While many may be tempted to stay home or vote for a third party candidate, the reality of the situation is that either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton will be the 45th President of the United States. The polls have tightened over the final week of the race, meaning that both Trump and Clinton appear to have a legitimate chance to win the election. With great reservations, I chose to vote for the potential for something better over four more years of the failed policies of the Obama Administration. I held my nose and voted for Donald Trump, and I encourage my readers to do the same.
2. Republicans for U.S. Senate
The United States Senate currently has 54 Republicans, 44 Democrats, and 2 independents who caucus with the Democrats, making the Senate configuration effectively 54-46. However, because the Republicans won a significant number of seats in the 2010 midterm election, they are defending 24 seats while the Democrats are only defending 10. The Republicans seem to be assured of losing the seat of Senator Mark Kirk in Illinois, meaning that the Democrats will need to pick up three additional seats if Clinton is the next President (because then-Vice President Tim Kaine would hold the tie-breaking vote) or four additional seats if Donald Trump is the next President (although extremely unlikely, please see my blog on the peculiar scenario in which someone else could become President [see blog]). Due to the number of close races, it is unclear which party will control the Senate come next January.
Due to the serious flaws of both of our likely potential Presidents, Congress will serve as an important check on their ambitions and worst tendencies. If Clinton is the next President, than the only thing stopping her from confirming activist Supreme Court Justices or passing a disastrous immigration reform bill would be a strong Congress. If Trump is the next President, Congress would be required to serve as a check on his worst tendencies and to pass effective legislation for his signature. For these reasons, I endorse the Republican candidates for Senate across the board. Fortunately, while voters are left with terrible candidates for President, the Republicans are offering strong Senate candidates in many key races across the country who deserve our support. I would like to highlight a few of the completive races and candidates who deserve special mention.
The U.S. Senate race in Florida is the one that I have been following most closely. There, Senator Marco Rubio, who I supported for President after the South Carolina primary, is facing a difficult reelection campaign against Congressman Patrick Murphy. As of November 4, 2016, RealClear Politics indicates that Rubio is holding onto a 3.2 point lead in the polling average) [link]. During the Republican primaries, I blogged extensively about why Senator Rubio was a terrific candidate [e.g., see blog], and how he seems to have learned the lessons from his previous foray into immigration reform to propose new and effective solutions to the current challenges. My opinion of Senator Rubio has not changed in the interim, and he should not be punished for making the difficult decision to back a candidate who he personally disagrees with on many issues. I hope to see Rubio run for President again someday, but first, he will need our support to stay in the Senate.
In Pennsylvania, incumbent Republican Senator Pat Toomey is running for reelection against the Democratic candidate, Katie McGinty. RealClear Politics has McGinty ahead by 3.0 in the polling average as of November 4, 2016 [link]. Toomey has been an effective Senator for his one term, and is one of the Republican caucus's foremost experts on economic policy. Toomey's victory is not only essential for maintaining a Republican majority in the Senate, but also for keeping a talented public servant in office. I wholeheartedly encourage any readers in Pennsylvania to vote to give Toomey a second term. Another first term Republican Senator, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, also deserves our support for similar reasons in a difficult reelection battle against former Democratic Senator Russ Feingold. RealClear Politics has Feingold ahead by 2.7 in the November 4 polling average, and a victory by Johnson would help ensure a Republican majority in the next Senate.
The final race I will single out for special mention is the lone Republican pickup opportunity, the Senate race in Nevada. With the current Democratic Senate leader Harry Reid rendering his greatest public service in his 30-year career in the Senate by retiring, Republican Congressman Joe Heck is seeking to flip the seat into the Republican column. Heck has been an effective legislator in the U.S. House, with strong positions on foreign affairs, immigration, and many other issues. Heck also offers an impressive personal story, having served three tours in active duty status in the U.S. Army Medical Corps and reaching the rank of Brigadier General [link]. RealClear Politics has Congressman Heck leading his Democratic opponent, Catherine Cortez Masto, by 1.4 in the November 4 polling average [link]. A victory for Heck would be especially significant because as a Republican pickup, it would mean that the Democrats would need to win either five or six currently Republican seats instead of four or five to take control of the Senate.
3. Republicans for U.S. House
The Republicans currently command a sizable 247-188 majority in the U.S. House of Representatives. Nearly all projections have the Republicans maintaining their majority in the House with mild to moderate losses. A strong Republican-controlled House will serve as a check on a President with a dubious commitment to conservative principles and executive restraint, whether that next President is Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump. Furthermore, if Trump is elected, we will have to rely on the House to pass legislation and provide a clear agenda for a Republican President who has not seemed to think too deeply about many of the key issues facing America today. For this reason, I hope to see the Republicans retain a significant majority in the U.S. House.
Because of the sheer number of races, I will not highlight specific races like I did with the Senate. However, for those who think that the House is a foregone conclusion, the size of the Republican majority will be significant. A narrow Republican majority could mean that Speaker Paul Ryan would have a difficult time securing a second term as Speaker. Furthermore, smaller Republican majorities will reduce the margin for error for passing potentially beneficial legislation.
The results of the upcoming election will have dramatic effects on the future course of American policy. This of course includes immigration policy, which is the primary focus of my blog here on site. It is important for voters to remember that there are many crucial races beyond the Presidential election, and that the composition of the next Congress will likely be just as important as the next occupant of the White House.
I look forward to finishing this series of blog posts after the election with a recap and a discussion about what we can expect with regard to immigration policy starting in January.