Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton's Brilliant Amnesty Move

Republicans are screwed no matter how they play now


You can question Hillary Clinton's political scruples. But don't doubt her political smarts.

There is no better proof of either quality than her U-turn decision last week to go all out in embracing amnesty for undocumented immigrants. Clinton's gambit is a major flip-flop—one that will put Republicans in a bind that they'll have a hard time extricating themselves from. It's heads she wins and tails they lose, regardless of what they do.

Clinton stunned everyone—even Latino activists—when she boldly called for a "path to full and equal citizenship" for all of the roughly 12 million illegal immigrants in the country. Speaking at a gathering of handpicked young immigrants in a high school in Nevada, a Latino-heavy swing state, she rejected the notion of a mere path to legalization—like the sort Jeb Bush and some of the more immigrant-friendly Republicans have skittishly backed. "That's code for second-class status," Clinton declared. She promised to go much further than even President Obama's recent executive action and "defer" deportation proceedings not only against some illegal immigrants, but virtually all of them, while working toward comprehensive immigration reform that included citizenship.

This was a remarkable shift for someone who has not only maintained a studious silence for months about Obama's executive action, but also previously opposed drivers licenses for illegal immigrants. Indeed, her flip is so dramatic that instead of raising questions about her credibility, it has changed the conversation so much that we're immediately asking what Republicans need to do to catch up.

No doubt her proposal, which she offered no realistic plan for pushing through an unfriendly Congress, is designed to deflect attention from "Emailgate" and any number of other scandals that might yet derail her candidacy. But that's not all its aimed at doing.

Its chief purpose is to compound what pollster Whit Ayres calls the GOP's "daunting demographic challenge" in 2016.

marcn / Foter / CC BY

Ayers points out that Mitt Romney got 59 percent of the white vote in 2012, the highest percentage of any Republican challenging an incumbent president, and still lost because he got only 18 percent of the overall minority vote and 27 percent of the Latino vote. However, the white share of the national electorate is on track to drop by three percentage points (from 72 percent in 2012 to 69 percent in 2016)—and the minority share, likewise, to rise by the same amount.

This means that the GOP candidate has to do one of two things to win against Clinton: Improve his or her performance with whites to about 65 percent, a feat only Ronald Reagan has accomplished in the last 50 years, or boost his or her minority vote to 30 percent, which would require drawing about 45 percent of the Latino vote—as George W. Bush did.

But here's the thing: While Democrats' white and minority supporters are united on the issue of immigration (or at least not hopelessly divided), the GOP's are not. This means that the more Republicans question and condemn Clinton's support for "amnesty," the more they'll dig themselves in a hole with Latinos and make her more popular. On the other hand, it they stay mute—which is what most of them have done (with the exception of Lindsey Graham)—they'll risk alienating the anti-amnesty white base that they have spent the last decade riling up.

In other words, if Republicans fight Hillary's call for amnesty, they'll lose Latinos, which will benefit Hillary. But if they don't, they'll lose whites, which will also benefit Hillary.

The dilemma is particularly acute for Jeb Bush, whose broad support for immigration (along with his Mexican-American wife and Spanish fluency) has made him perhaps the best-placed Republican to do well among Latinos. Yet even he doesn't come anywhere close to the 45 percent mark yet. He has been rather equivocal in his support for a path to citizenship and has been assuring GOP voters that whatever course he charts for the undocumented, it will require them to jump through all kinds of hoops, such as paying fines and passing English tests and possibly "touching back" to their home country. Still, a recent Bloomberg poll found that 41 percent of likely Republican voters in New Hampshire, far from the most restrictionist state in the country, considered his immigration views a "deal-killer."

By positioning herself as even more pro-immigration than the most pro-immigration GOP candidate—and potentially picking as her running mate Julian Castro, secretary of Housing and Urban Development and the former mayor of San Antonio who is wildly popular with Latinos—she will basically lock up the Latino vote. This will mean that the Republican nominee, even Jeb Bush, would have to go whole-hog for the white vote by hardening his or her opposition to amnesty and immigration, further cementing the GOP's reputation as the anti-minority, white man's party.

Some pundits pooh-pooh this problem, noting that like all voters, Latinos list jobs and the economy as their top concerns, not immigration. That's true. But, also like all voters, Latinos won't put their economic faith in someone they don't trust politically. They will have much more confidence in Clinton solving those problems, not because they necessarily buy into her liberal tax-and-spend plans, but because they have more confidence in her personally, thanks to her appeal for them on immigration issues.

What's more, life will get only more miserable for Republicans once Clinton enters the White House and makes comprehensive immigration reform her signature issue. That's because if Republicans go along with her plans to extend full-fledged amnesty, they will basically be handing her a whole new block of Democratic voters. But if they don't, Democrats will be able to milk this issue in subsequent elections, when the electorate is even more Latino.

Regardless of where one stands on the merits of the issue, the political reality is this: Republicans' harsh anti-immigration rhetoric has left them no good options. They have created their own vulnerability. And Hillary Clinton has just zeroed in on it.

This column originally appeared in The Week

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  1. I repeat my comment from the last time this was posted:


  2. Shikha, going from one extreme position to the opposite extreme position merely indicates a complete lack of convictions which is a very, very easy target to hit in a policial campaign. Such a massive reversal is not a ‘smart political move’ no matter how much you personally like her new ‘position’.

    1. Such a massive reversal is not a ‘smart political move’ no matter how much you personally like her new ‘position’.

      Whatever gets you elected…

    2. Hilary is sooooo smart. Like Shikha Dalmia. You’re just too white and stupid to see it.

      1. Did any of you schmucks read the same article I did? The point is a demographic problem for Team Red, for whom immigration is a successful wedge.

        American voters are just as unprincipled as the politicians they oust into office. Thats why a criminal like Clinton is one of the default choices.

        Your argument against the Romney results is that voters care about consistency? Youre delusional

  3. Clinton stunned everyone?even Latino activists?when she boldly called for a “path to full and equal citizenship” for all of the roughly 12 million illegal immigrants in the country.

    I was shocked to hear that a particularly unprincipled Democrat did some pandering. Shocked I tell you!

  4. Indeed, her flip is so dramatic that instead of raising questions about her credibility, it has changed the conversation so much that we’re immediately asking what Republicans need to do to catch up.

    Citation needed – assertion presented with no evidence that this inconsistancy has changed anyone’s views on the matter. Instead it seems to reflect wishful thinking that the campaign will move towards a position you vocally advocate for but which has not proven popular with large pieces of the electorate.

    1. Also, a GOP Candidate which flops on amnesty will drive away more voters than such a move would attract. Historical evidence shows that if a GOP presidential candidate runs as Democrat-lite, the electorate votes for the Democrat, to get the free shit being promised alongside the horrible shit being imposed.

      1. You cannot out free-shit the free-shit party.

  5. Other great political moves by the Hill:

    1) Marrying a future president
    2) Pushing for government takeover of healthcare, which helped pave the way for Republican victory in 1994
    3) Expressing belief in a conspiracy against her husband
    4) Dodging sniper fire in Bosnia with Brian Williams
    5) Handing Russia a button inscribed with the Russian phrase “We are idiots”
    6) Quelling the fires of rebellion Libya over a YouTube video with just four American lives

    1. Yeah, there’s just no way to spin Hillary as a master tactician. Just…none. She’s basically the exact opposite, a master blunderer. Being an ill-made, spiteful little creature full of envy, lust, and low cunning may have given her the ability to keep lumbering on as a political zombie, but she is no master. If she was she’d have been elected president in 2008.

      1. Yet she’s still in the race! My nickname for her is Rasputin.

        1. That’s inconceivable, ProL. Do you want to go back to where I found you? Unemployed? In Greenland?

          1. I was at EPCOT yesterday and heard that a new Disney property was being constructed near Seattle. It’s going to be called EPICOCK.

            1. So it is a little, tiny place then?

            2. It will be a small attraction.

              1. It’s a small cock, after all
                It’s a small cock, after all
                It’s a small, small, cock

      2. Yup. She’s an idiot, but she knows her voters are even dumber than she is. It’s how she, Feinstein, Schumer, etc. keep getting elected even when they do nothing what their voter base wants.

        1. I think that they do a lot that their voter base wants, their voter base is just too stupid to realize that the things they want are going to be the death of them in the long run.

      3. but Bill is a master tactician. well, not master, but pretty good. and you’re crazy if you think he wants to be first lady. he’s an ex-president, yes, but that gets you 1% of the coverage that a sitting prez and/or first lady gets. he’s thoroughly enjoying his life away from the white house.

        Hill gets elected and there’s no more pedo island, banging milfs all over the world, and doing whatever the hell he’s currently doing with his $100M and status. when’s the last time he even spent the night in the same place as Hillary? the media will (sort of) pay attention to that stuff once he’s back in the spotlight.

        Bill will ensure HIllary flames out.

      4. You seem to be completely underestimating the stupidity of the American Electorate…
        Not you, not me, not most of us here… the overwhelming majority of ‘the others.’

  6. That such a visibly corrupt candidate as HRClinton is taken seriously, despite her rhetoric on immigration, by anyone is completely preposterous.

    Supporting that creature speaks volumes about the person giving the support.

    1. See my comment just above….

  7. Manuver? Really?

  8. And Hillary Clinton has just zeroed in on it.

    Like a drunk Senator aiming for the Dike Bridge.

  9. It’s brilliant manure. Just brilliant.

  10. She’s not a master tactician, she’s not a political genius, she’s a filthy, decrepit harridan grasping madly with her talons for every scrap of power she can reach.

    Trying, as Shikha does here, to show political opponents as criminal masterminds that must be undone by the plucky libertarian underdogs, is just romantic nonsense that fails to show Hillary as she really is: a filthy, decrepit harridan grasping madly with her talons for every scrap of power she can reach.

  11. A blatant flip-flop to the unpopular option: political genius, or desperate pander to part of her base?

    I can think of one and only one political calculation that would justify this: it will move a few voters in Florida to the D column (maybe), and won’t alienate voters in other swing states (highly unlikely, but possible).

    Any political genius here is predicated on the DemOp media never mentioning the flip-flop. “We have always been in support of amnesty for illegals.”

    1. I wouldn’t worry about Florida. The Republicans are very busy demonstrating how terrible single party rule is. Although I do give them credit for simply adjourning the legislature when it became clear that they couldn’t pass a budget until they know how much Mediciad the Feds will pay them.

  12. While I’m at it:

    An “undocumented immigrant” is one who left his green card at home.

    An “illegal alien” is one who never had a green card, or obtained it fraudulently.

    1. I see. So pats on the head for those with a government permission slip for where they can live and work, and glares for those who dont. Explain why you shouldnt be disregarded as a statist

  13. OT: Did I miss a nutpunch somewhere?
    From the linked statement: After the suspect had been handcuffed, we immediately requested the rescue squad to respond to the location of the incident to attend to the suspect. I wanted the suspect to receive medical care for the taser prong that made contact and for his exposure to OC. It was lucky the the rescue squad could also notice that the suspect had suffered a stroke which just might have had something to do with his highly erratic driving.

  14. In other words, if Republicans fight Hillary’s call for amnesty, they’ll lose Latinos, which will benefit Hillary. But if they don’t, they’ll lose whites, which will also benefit Hillary.

    So, Clinton’s “brilliant” move is securing the votes of people who would likely vote for her anyway.

    By that standard I guess we can say Mike Huckabee is brilliant because “if Democrats fight his call to restrict abortion and gay marriage, they’ll lose evangelicals and devout Catholics. If they don’t they’ll lose urban progressives, which will also benefit Huckabee.”

    1. Democrats dont need those groups to win. Republicans do need a significant gains in blacks and latinos to win.

  15. A master tactician wouldn’t be so obvious. I guess that begs the question though.

  16. Here’s an interesting case that SCOTUS just agreed to hear:

    Texas voters claim that “one person, one vote” should mean “one citizen, one vote for purposes of setting up legislative districts, on the theory that voters in districts with relatively few non-voters have their votes diluted compared to voters in districts with lots of non-voters.

    If each district has 100,000 people in it, then a voter in a district with 80,000 voters counts for more than a voter in a district with 95,000 voters. This will be an interesting one.


    1. Except the constitutionhas always set up representation on.the basis of population, not numbers of voters. If it did not, the infamous 3/5ths Compromise would never have happened, since how you counted slaves would have been a moot point.

    2. It’s not interesting if you’ve ever bothered to read the Constitution. It’s frivolous and the equal protection claims are not supported by the Constitution, considering House representation is allotted by population, not by citizenship or voting eligibility. The fact that the Supremes have taken it up is, frankly, shocking. Nonetheless, I’m sure they’ll find a way to rule for the plaintiffs.

  17. What rxn do you have to my new assessment that most of those favoring Hillary in polls are hoping the “real” president will be Bill?

    1. A known quantity like Bill would be the best this nation could hope for after the last couple of presidents. That would be Hillary’s selling point as well if she weren’t so obviously a hapless sociopath. At least Bill is hapful.

      1. By the 2nd term, aren’t all presidents “known quantities”? WTF does this even mean?

        1. But this one is specifically known to be Bill Clinton.

        2. It means . . .

          Get ready . . .

          That Bill Clinton . . .

          WAS PRESIDENT . . .

          and . . .

          the 2016 contenders WEREN’T!

  18. Palin: I hope to god you’re calling to tell me you’re in position below the vault with the L7 charges.

    Obama: I’m in the tunnel now, Sarah. Should be almost below the museum.

    Palin: Just make sure you don’t blow the transformers along with the tunnel, because it will trigger the 54 laser system. And don’t damage any coupling wires or it’ll be worthless when Garak shuts down the grade. I’ll be there in 30.

    Obama: God! She’s awesome.

  19. I said to myself today: I wonder when the next immigration/open borders post will be… I bet it is today.

    and here it is.

    1. libertarian ideas on a libertarian website. shocking.

  20. “This means that the GOP candidate has to do one of two things to win against Clinton: Improve his or her performance with whites to about 65 percent, a feat only Ronald Reagan has accomplished in the last 50 years, or boost his or her minority vote to 30 percent, which would require drawing about 45 percent of the Latino vote?as George W. Bush did.”

    If that’s the game you want to play, racial turnout rate determined each of the last two presidential elections. Black turnout increased from 60% in 2004 to 66.2% in 2012, and white (non-hispanic) turnout dropped from 67.2 to 64.1 in the same period. Despite shifting from modestly democrat to overwhelmingly democrat, hispanic turnout remained about the same, with less than a single point of uptick.

    If you think that a politically idiotic 70-year-old white woman is going to draw the same percentage of minority voters to the polls as Slick Barry, who has done a wonderful job of reminding people why no one should have hope for politics, you should reexamine your priors.

    If the GOP is at least as cynical as they are stupid, this should provide a boost to Cruz and Rubio, with Cruz being the one who can talk his way out of a paper bag and who will likely beat the shit out of everyone in the debates. I don’t know if that’s a good thing in the long run–it might be better to have a reliable mediocrity like Jeb than a wild card like Ted–but the GOP has to diversify if it wants to compete for the executive.

    1. there is greater reason to suspect that white turnout would be depressed just as much as minority turnout in the coming race.

      latinos would almost certainly show up in higher numbers with immigration as a wedge issue, which it has not been in any recent election.

  21. Hey the Repubs had plenty of time to outline a plan to register folks that were already here, give them some time period to enroll, then some petty requirements for being here like a couple of 1040’s in a row, then maybe green card, then full citizenship. All for a penalfee of 100 bucks or something like that.

  22. In reality, the independents will win it for the Repubs if they get the right candidate and don’t screw up too badly. Hillary has fucked up so much lately, getting the independent vote is gonna be a stretch for her.

  23. Aaaaand my Nepalese buddy STILL gets the finger when he applies for citizenship here.

  24. And of these 12 million new citizens, how many will join the Libertarian Party? How many will vote LP? How many will subscribe to Reason magazine?

    It seems that Reason can not put 2 + 2 together to equal 4. i.e., you legalize a new Democrat voting bloc, add to it big government Dem policies and (voila) you end up with Bigger Government.

  25. derp…so being pro-minority is synonymous with being pro-amnesty? All minorities (some who spent years and thousands of dollars becoming Americans) are pro-illegal immigration and pro-amnesty?

    I come here for deep thought and interesting conversation, and a terrible, war-crimes-esque commentariat. This boilerplate, vapid BS I can get anywhere else.

  26. But let’s be realistic here. Hillary hasn’t the faintest intention of doing anything as president except walking around saying “I am president”. So what if she wants to air drop US passports over Mexico. It’s not going to happen.

  27. The answer is simple. The GOP nominee merely has to offer the Latino community more — say $25,000 for each illegal Latino per year.

    IT’S ALL OVER FOLKS! As proven in the past, we can’t beat an opponent who is willing to give away Obama phones.

    The Socialists have won folks. Welcome to the USSA.

    Thailand is looking more and more appealing everyday.

  28. Don’t do shit, my parents came here legally! Secure the border first, for years, then we will talk!!

    1. The government can’t even secure the constitution or the liberty of others. What in the hell makes you think they can secure the borders?

      1. well put vampire. although you assume the “do X first” immigration deferment is a claim made in good faith. its not. its just a tactic to attempt to stop reform to continue current insane policies.

  29. Liberals don’t care about principled positions only advancing their socialist agenda. Hillary will be fine with them. She still sucks as a human being, but the progressive voters don’t care. She will be pummeled in the general election if she makes it past the primaries.

  30. just before I saw the draft four $9373 , I have faith that…my… friends brother had been truly earning money part time on their computer. . there great aunt haz done this for less than 21 months and at present paid for the loans on there villa and bourt themselves a BMW M3 . see here
    ………….. http://WWW.MONEYKIN.COM

  31. The writer of this article is an imbecile. One of the silliest and most unprincipled articles yet by Reason. UnCivilServant is absolutely correct. The fact that Clinton would even change her position to such an extent only shows what people have always thought about her — that she is unauthentic as politicians get. She works and lives for money and attention. She has no morals or self-respect, or she would be divorced as well by now. Her career is a joke, just like the career of the writer of this article. Not much else more to say here except to say that Reason articles are often rather ridiculous. When will there be an honest candidate who is actually supported by the sycophantic sheep who work for media outlets for the very honesty s/he exudes.

  32. Nathaniel . although Stephanie `s rep0rt is super… I just bought a top of the range Mercedes sincee geting a check for $4416 this last four weeks and would you believe, ten/k last-month . no-doubt about it, this really is the best-job I’ve ever done . I actually started seven months/ago and almost straight away started making a nice over $79.. p/h….. ?????? http://www.netcash9.com

  33. Not even this blatant bit of demagoguery will be enough to save her lying butt.

  34. “Brilliant” is hilarious. She has just screwed herself. Most people don’t want Amnesty or to pay welfare for the masses of uneducated illiterates pouring into this country. This will make a great ad when you show all the crime they cause and the 100 billion these illegals cost. “Brilliant” is totally delusional.

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