Calls To “Abolish ICE” Could End Up Being A Gift To Trump And The Republicans

Democrats are rallying around the "Abolish ICE" slogan in response to the Trump Administration's immigration policies, but it could end up backfiring on them.

In the wake of the Trump Administration’s “zero tolerance” policy in dealing with people attempting to illegally enter the United States at the Mexican border, which at least for a time led to the separation of parents and children in apparent violation of existing law, many on the left have taken up the cause of abolishing Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the agency charged with enforcing the nation’s immigration laws and the policies aimed at doing so from the incumbent President. The call has gotten so popular on the left that many politicians who are seen as likely or potential candidates for the Democratic nomination are finding themselves compelled to join the call notwithstanding the fact that it is entirely unclear what “Abolish ICE” means beyond being a political slogan that resonates with a certain audience. In doing so, though, The Washington Post’s Karen Tumulty warns Democrats that they may be handing a gift to Republicans:

Demonizing a government agency is an old, tired strategy — one that rarely if ever has worked.

Just ask the Republicans. They have more than a little experience in this regard.

Democrats “are drifting into a trap,” Trump ally Newt Gingrich told me, acknowledging that he knows what it is like to fall into this one.

When the GOP took control of the House under then-Speaker Gingrich in 1995, its right wing vowed to eliminate no fewer than four federal departments: Education, Energy, Commerce, and Housing and Urban Development. Republicans saw those departments as symbols of everything that had gone awry in a sprawling, increasingly intrusive federal government.

“We learned that every one of those agencies have interest groups that desperately want them to survive,” Gingrich said. “We just weren’t clever about it.”

(…)

There are fair criticisms that ICE has become unwieldy and that its reputation sometimes interferes with its ability to do its job. Detention and deportation, which grew sharply under President Barack Obama, have also become more common since ICE’s creation.

But ICE is not responsible for what we’ve seen at the border in the past few months, particularly the heinous practice of separating parents from their children.

To blame a faceless agency is to give a pass to Trump’s “zero-tolerance” policies and to the hateful rhetoric that has helped create a political environment in which some Americans find this acceptable.

What’s more, Democrats are making it all too easy for Trump and his allies to falsely portray a call to abolish ICE as another way of clamoring for open borders.

“How can the Democrats, who are weak on the Border and weak on Crime, do well in November,” the president tweeted Tuesday. “The people of our Country want and demand Safety and Security, while the Democrats are more interested in ripping apart and demeaning (and not properly funding) our great Law Enforcement!”

This is the fight that Trump wants to have, over security and law enforcement, rather than massive detention centers and frantic parents who cannot find their children. It is one he can win — and Democrats calling to eliminate ICE will have given him a potent weapon with which to do it.

Tumulty is largely correct here, and Democrats would be well-advised to heed her warnings. The “Abolish Ice” slogan and Twitter hashtag may be something that will rally the base, and that will certainly be an important issue in the upcoming midterm elections. At the same time, though, it also leaves Democratic candidates and the party in danger of handing what ought to be a good issue for them over to President Trump and the Republicans because of the way that it is being framed and the fact that it is seemingly easy for the GOP to turn a simplistic slogan into something that sounds as if they are essentially advocating for an end to the enforcement of immigration laws. That’s exactly how Trump and Republicans are framing the debate right now, of course, and if they succeed then Democrats could find that they’ve given Republicans a potent weapon come November notwithstanding the fact that, objectively speaking, this is an issue that should work against the GOP given all the polling on the issue.

As I’ve said before, abolishing ICE doesn’t really solve the problems that we’re dealing with at the border right now, and which are likely to continue as long as Republicans control Congress and Donald Trump remains President. Whatever one calls the agency, the laws and policies it enforces will still be on the books and will still need to be enforced. Therefore, it’s rather obvious that the calls to “Abolish ICE” aren’t going to accomplish anything unless and until those underlying laws are changed. In order for that to happen, though, Democrats are going to have to win elections not only at the Congressional level but also at the Presidential level. Then, they’re going to have to do what the Obama Administration largely failed to do and make a concerted push for the passage of a comprehensive change to the nation’s immigration laws that addresses the issues that are creating the problems that the “Abolish ICE” protesters are complaining about. In all likelihood that effort will require at least some Republican input and support since it’s unlikely that Democrats (or Republicans for that matter) are going to have a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate at any point in the foreseeable future. So far, though, the people behind the “Abolish ICE” slogan haven’t really offered any coherent proposals in that area and, until they do, focusing on the slogan does not accomplish much of anything and, as Tumulty notes, poses the danger of allowing Republicans to shift the focus of the immigration debate that has been taking place since the family separation policy became a public issue toward the issue of border enforcement, which clearly would benefit them.

FILED UNDER: Borders and Immigration, Campaign 2018, Campaign 2020, Congress, Donald Trump, Politicians, US Politics, , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Modulo Myself says:

    I’m skeptical about how effective Abolish ICE is as a slogan. But if Newt Gingrich says it’s bad for the Democrats and if Trump is babbling about crime and borders, I’m a bit less skeptical. Why would that nice man lie to Democrats? Can’t think of any reason. Are there degenerate Fox watchers out there not thoroughly alarmed after decades of propaganda? These are people who thought Obama was for open borders and then blamed him for Trump’s concentration camps. These people are paste. They don’t matter.

    And even Gingrich’s premise is funny–‘sure we did get power, but man sometimes power is tough, so why would you nice leftists wish for that burden, huh?’ And you have to admire the Tumulty’s pseudo-moralism conveniently ignoring the success of decades of anti-government demonization by the GOP.

    If I were a leftist, I would take stuff like this as either a sign of a collective brain virus or fear of the unknown, which would be an active left in America.

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  2. teve tory says:

    Did GOP demonizing the IRS backfire on them and benefit Dems? No?

    Beltway Insider Says Dems Too Liberal; Film at 11.

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  3. mike shupp says:

    I gather from your remarks that ICE has been part of our nation’s government since 1776 or so, an absolutely essential requirement for American independence, so obvious a necessity that any idiot can see easily see that opponents of the agency are insane or covertly working for the country’s enemies. Ir’s all so clear.

    Yet, oddly, I have no recollection of ICE being discussed in my high school civics classes some decades back, and I find no mention of it in several American history books I have laying about.

    Please! Am I losing my mind or my sanity? Are the drugs I don’t take finally getting to me? What is wrong with me? How on earth can I possibly imagine living in an American nation without ICE?

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  4. wr says:

    Any strong stand “could” end up hurting Democrats, which is why the most timid of Democratic leaders tend to cower in the face of making any kind of a statement. But what we see time and again is that the refusal to take strong, possibly controversial, stands on any issue is exactly what leads the Democrats to defeat. Because as has been said many times, you can’t beat something with nothing. As much as I respect Tumulty as a reporter, the pearl-clutching over the possibility of maybe pissing off Trump voters is the kind of thinking that has actually brought us Trump.

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  5. @mike shupp:

    You are aware that before ICE came into being in 2003 it was called the Immigration and Naturalization Service, right?

    As long as the immigration laws remain on the books, there will be an agency that will be charged with enforcing those laws. Abolishing ICE does nothing to change the underlying laws.

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  6. TM01 says:

    “something that sounds as if they are essentially advocating for an end to the enforcement of immigration laws.”

    Well, if the shoe fits…

    “push for the passage of a comprehensive change to the nation’s immigration laws that addresses the issues that are creating the problems that the “Abolish ICE” protesters are complaining about. ”
    IOW… Open Borders and amnesty.

    I’m sure that’s a winning platform. Run on that, Democrats. Please.

    But let’s say it’s not that (eye roll), there will still be some sort of immigration laws. Which will need to be enforced. Leading to imprisoning some people and possibly separating families even.

    Which causes Tears, which means they can’t actually be enforced.

    So, even if not on paper, you actually want open borders.

    @teve tory:
    But who the hell actually LIKES the IRS?
    ICE is just enforcing the law.

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  7. Hal_10000 says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    No, but it replaces an agency that has become thuggish, abusive and relishes the arbitrary application of said law. The “corporate culture” at ICE is diseased and has been for some time.

    I disagree with you in part and agree in part. I disagree that Abolish ICE is necessarily a loser; the Democrats will have ample video of ICE abuses for ads and campaign fodder. I agree, however, that, as of right now, “Abolish ICE” is just a slogan. The Democrats need an actual plan to replace it, either by devolving many of its functions to the Border Patrol and other agencies or creating a new agency to take up its duties.

    Did GOP demonizing the IRS backfire on them and benefit Dems? No?

    Not a good comparison. The IRS affects everyone; everyone in America has dealt with the IRS and millions have had bad interactions with them. ICE only affects immigrants (and as far as most people are concerned, illegal immigrants although that is decisively not the case). It’s way easier for the GOP to demonize “Abolish ICE” by claiming (falsely) that it means open borders.

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  8. Andre Kenji de Sousa says:

    The absolute majority of Americans don’t even know what ICE is and what ICE is supposed to do. I confess that I have to google some weeks ago to know that ICE was an abbreviation for Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

    There is no Democrat running on this platform. There are some people on Twitter calling for ICE to be abolished, some people that might run for the Democratic nomination agreeing with them and that’s it.

    Americans did not have anything resembling “open borders” with any Democratic President, why that would work for Republicans in 2018?

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  9. teve tory says:

    @Hal_10000: I wasn’t comparing the two, I was making the point that Gingrich is wrong that demonizing an agency will backfire. Demonizing the Department of Energy didn’t work because they don’t do anything remotely demonic. Newt has way more ideas than he has smart ideas. Photos of kids taken from their parents and crying in cages should be a little stronger than abstract and false arguments that replacing ICE means open borders. That stuff is only likely to work on the Already Trumpers. If you’re voting based on our nonexistent immigration crisis you’re already voting Trump.

    The big story in the 2018 midterms is going to be the vast shift of women to the Democratic Party. The polling numbers are huge.

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  10. Todd says:

    @Doug Mataconis: The pre-2003 INS did not function in exactly the same way that the DHS run CBP, UCIS, and ICE components do.

    https://www.scpr.org/blogs/multiamerican/2013/03/07/12841/10-years-homeland-security-three-ways-which-immigr/

    Also, I think when people talk about abolishing ICE, it’s not about “open borders” (as conservatives will surely accuse), it’s an objection to the interior enforcement policies (ramped up dramatically after 2003). As a libertarian, I would think you should share some of the real concerns about the ways that ICE conducts it’s mission. “Change ICE” might be a more accurately descriptive slogan, but wouldn’t have quite the motivational zing to it.

    https://www.hoover.org/research/shifts-us-immigration-enforcement-system

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  11. Todd says:

    Note to self: do not include supporting links in comments, or they will be banished to the moderation queue.

    Please retrieve

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  12. Modulo Myself says:

    @Hal_10000:

    It’s not about policy. It’s a political message. Living in perpetual fear of border crossings and ‘MS-13’ is a revolting way to live. It’s like worrying about the speed limit or smoking weed. Democrats need to portray Trump as a cowardly little shut-in peeking through the blinds. It’s not hard. Aside from rape and money, that’s all he’s into and that’s why his base is all wannabe cops. Policy comes after you make the message.

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  13. @Todd:

    Again, that just reinforces my argument that abolishing the agency is meaningless unless you address the underlying laws **and** the policies that the Executive Branch adopts as part of its obligation to enforce those laws. Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy, for example, which became the genesis for the family separation policy, were well within the discretion that existing Federal law grants to the Executive Branch to enforce the immigration laws. As long as those laws and policies remain on the books, then it doesn’t matter if the agency that enforces it is called ICE, INS, or the Carebears.

    It is precisely because I have “real concerns about the ways that ICE conducts its mission” that I keep saying that screaming “Abolish ICE” accomplishes nothing. It’s not ICE that is the problem, it’s the laws and policies it is enforcing.

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  14. @Hal_10000:

    I am not saying that “Abolish ICE” is necessarily a loser. I am saying that focusing solely on the agency rather than the underlying laws is pointless, and that it plays into the hands of Trump and the GOP by shifting the focus away from the underlying laws in a way that makes it appear as if the people who are opposed to current policy are in favor of open borders, which is something the majority of Americans oppose.

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  15. wr says:

    @Doug Mataconis: “As long as the immigration laws remain on the books, there will be an agency that will be charged with enforcing those laws. Abolishing ICE does nothing to change the underlying laws.”

    Not comparing the US to Nazi Germany, but while Germany still have a state police force I think life in the country would be substantially different if they’d used that fact to keep the Gestapo around after the war…

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  16. @Todd:

    It’s not including links per se that sets off the moderation queue but multiple links in one comment since that’s typically a sign that a comment is spam. It’s annoying, I know but we do our best to approve comments that end up in moderation because of that.

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  17. teve tory says:

    Some people are under the impression that people vote based on policy details. They don’t. They vote on team, and vision.

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  18. Modulo Myself says:

    Are people really arguing that what Democrats need to do against Trump is to engage him on policy? ‘This comprehensive 1000-page proposal by Brookings will surely turn the tide on Drumpf!’

    And no offense to Doug–but center-right moderates are not exactly qualified to offer prudent advice about winning politically. It’s like telling the Democrats to the spirit of moderation as exhibited by Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio.

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  19. mike shupp says:

    Doug:

    Well, yes, I do recall the INS. It wasn’t a paramilitary outfit as I recall, but somehow it managed to do the job of vetting immigrants and policing the borders without a great deal of violence and national embarrassment. It wasn’t perfect I concede, and if it were in my power, I;d make some changes in the way it functioned and in the laws it enforced, or attempted to enforce. Still, with these reservations, might be nice to have that agency back in preference to ICE. It’s even conceivable that many of the people currently calling for the abolition of ICE have in mind something like restoring the INS in its place, and that an honest discussion of the issue would include that possibility up front.

    Sure, there are poorly educated or not very bright leftists who chant about eliminating ICE without evidence of additional thought. But they don’t make the laws and policy. All of us here (I think) understand that, and I appreciate that you aren’t actually classing ICE opponents as being so clueless, but instead arguing that proponents of the status quo will treat those of us wishing reforms as being so stupid. Fair enough, and you’re likely correct.

    What really got my back up, however, is that your argument struck me as began at Point A (The ICE exists) and immediately jumped to Point C (Trump and conservatives will defend ICE by attacks on its foes), without touching on Point B (Alternatives to ICE and its tactics are imaginable and have been used in the past).

    You really ought to admit that Point B exists. It strikes me as a logical necessity in your argument. More to the point, other bloggers and journalists and TV pundits and the like who are already shouting about this topic ought to admit Point B. Many of them seem quite willing to persuade their audience that paramilitary forces are necessary to defend our borders and that opponents of ICE have nothing in mind but admitting as many immigrants as possible as fast as possible. Which is disgracefully dishonest.

    .

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  20. gVOR08 says:

    God forbid Dems run on a simplistic slogan like “Abolish ICE” instead of trying to fit a more nuanced and centrist slogan like “Enforce our existing immigration laws more humanely while still maintaining border security” on a bumper sticker.

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  21. Michael Reynolds says:

    ICE is A problem, but it’s not THE problem. @DougMataconis is right: the central issue is the underlying law. The Left is focusing on ICE because we are collectively terrified of what would happen if we sat down to try to agree on a policy. Obama had pretty tough enforcement, is that where Dems still are? Or are we listening to the ‘open borders’ nonsense?

    You cannot beat something with nothing. The Republican position is clear: they hate immigrants, especially if they’re brown. They will do whatever it takes to stop immigration – except of course for the staff at Mar-A-Lago.

    Our position is that we love immigrants, which is a great theory, but in what numbers, from what sources, with what rationales? Trying to straddle the gulf between Obama immigration policy and open borders is impossible, and it undercuts our effort to at least return humanity and decency to border enforcement.

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  22. Todd says:

    @Doug Mataconis: It is the laws and policies, but it is also the “culture” of the agency … or at least the perceived culture.

    I suspect that you may be making too literal of an argument about exactly what “abolish ICE” means to those who are embracing the slogan. Their objection IS to the laws and policies … as well as the culture of the agency tasked to enforce them.

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  23. Michael Reynolds says:

    BTW an underreported story is that Angela Merkel has stepped back from her very generous immigration policy. Camps are going up on the German border with Austria.

    I said when Merkel first talked about a million refugees and Obama backed her play by offering to take 100k, that it was all wonderfully kind and decent but dangerous and foolish. The results have been as bad or worse than I expected them to be. Europe has seen a huge shift to the Right, the UK is out of Europe, Hungary is a quasi-fascist state, and Italy is talking about expelling Roma while Steve Bannon gives speeches in Europe encouraging people to accept the racist label.

    Actions create reactions. If we keep pushing without ever revealing our end game we get nothing but reaction, a reaction which primarily harms the very immigrants and recent immigrants we’re most concerned about. We need a positive message. We need a policy. Because right now we are leaving the collective impression that we favor open borders and that is absolute disaster at the polls.

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  24. James Pearce says:

    @Andre Kenji de Sousa:

    There is no Democrat running on this platform.

    There are a few.

    Others, however, are running from it.

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  25. @mike shupp:

    The issue, though, is that the people who are rallying around the “Abolish ICE” banner aren’t tackling the only issue that matters, changing the existing laws and policies. As I’ve said in the past, “Abolish ICE” may work to rally the base for some Democratic candidates (although I’d note that not everyone on the left is embracing the idea) but it does nothing to address the only issue that really matters.

    As I’ve said repeatedly, if you change the laws it doesn’t matter what the agency is called.

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  26. @Todd:

    Their objection IS to the laws and policies … as well as the culture of the agency tasked to enforce them.

    Then why aren’t they addressing that point? Because if they are, I haven’t seen it.

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  27. @teve tory:

    Actually most of them vote based on pocketbook issues and things that directly impact them. For the vast majority of Americans, ICE is an abstraction and it becomes very easy to twist the “Abolish ICE” argument into one that leaves the impression that the people advocating it are calling for open borders. As Michael Reynolds notes above, that would be a politically suicidal position for Democrats to take.

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  28. Todd says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Because to change the laws and policies we first need to change the people who make the laws and policies.

    I understand the conventional wisdom argument that this may not be an effective electoral message …

    However, as I’ve commented on other posts, we have no actual real world evidence to support that contention. Whereas we have plenty of real world evidence that the Democrats who listen to those who worry that these type of messages might “turn off swing voters” are the ones who tend to lose the closely divided districts/states that they could have conceivably won with better base turnout.

    I guess we’ll find out in a couple of months how this will play out, as I don’t think the “abolish ICE” slogan will be going away before the election.

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  29. Ratufa says:

    @Andre Kenji de Sousa:

    Americans did not have anything resembling “open borders” with any Democratic President, why that would work for Republicans in 2018?

    One could have made a similar argument when Trump accused Hillary of wanting open borders in 2016. That accusation worked well enough that she had to defend herself against it, and who knows how many people still believed it.

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  30. @Doug:

    The “Abolish Ice” slogan and Twitter hashtag may be something that will rally the base, and that will certainly be an important issue in the upcoming midterm elections.

    If this “movement” has the effect of increasing Democratic turnout because of mobilization, then it will have been a resounding success.

    This less about bureaucratic reorganization and more about drawing attention to some pretty horrible things ICE has done (and yes, not because ICE exists, but because of Trump).

    The Republicans are going to say that Dems want open borders and crime no matter what Dems do.

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  31. @Todd:

    Whereas we have plenty of real world evidence that the Democrats who listen to those who worry that these type of messages might “turn off swing voters” are the ones who tend to lose the closely divided districts/states that they could have conceivably won with better base turnout.

    Indeed. It really isn’t about swing voters. It is about turnout.

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  32. Todd says:

    p.s. It is possible to simultaneously think this might not be such a bad message for the mid-terms (especially as long as the child separation crisis persists), while also acknowledging Michael’s point that when/if the Democrats do regain power they will have to implement policies that are unlikely to please the extreme voices on either end of the ideological spectrum.

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  33. Ben Wolf says:

    Demonizing a government agency is an old, tired strategy — one that rarely if ever has worked.

    Just ask the Republicans. They have more than a little experience in this regard.

    Yes, it rarely works if we ignore that the Republicans repeatedly win.

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  34. teve tory says:

    I’d like to think the soybean farmers and metal machinists would vote on their pocketbooks, but it looks to me they’re voting for Team Republican and a Vision of a white country. Maybe the 900,000 kentuckians who vote republican who just had their dental and vision taken away will start voting pocketbook. I expect they’ll stay with team white and visions of deportation.

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  35. teve tory says:

    The tariffs look virtually designed to hurt trump voters’ pocketbooks. Are they going to abandon him? No, the blue wave this fall will come from angry women tired of the bullshit they have to put up with.

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  36. Ben Wolf says:

    @Todd: That would entirely depend upon whom you assume gets to define “extreme.” Doug and Michael both have told us that every single policy popular with Democrats is “too extreme and risky” suggeting the definition amounts to anything that actually has support.

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  37. @Steven L. Taylor:

    It is about the turnout, and Tumulty’s point, which I think is worthy of consideration, is that the “Abolish ICE” argument could just as easily end up increasing turnout among Republicans in marginal races. As it is, Republicans tend to vote more in midterms than Democrats do, so that could make a difference.

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  38. @Ben Wolf:

    Doug and Michael both have told us that every single policy popular with Democrats is “too extreme and risky”

    I’ve said no such thing, and I won’t speak for Michael.

    My point ever since this “Abolish ICE” idea came along is that it seems to be without substance in terms of actual policy proposals. That’s the real problem.

    And I’d note that this idea isn’t one that is universally held by Democrats or their supporters. People such as Bernie Sanders and Kamala Harris, who are hardly “moderates,” have both resisted endorsing the call to “Abolish ICE.”

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  39. Ben Wolf says:

    @Doug Mataconis: You have told us exactly that. You have warned Democrats shouldn’t support increases in minimum wages, tuition-free college or health care as a right because it’s all “unrealistic” and people would get angry at Democrats. One need only look up your blogging on the 2016 primary to see this is true.

    And I’d note that this idea isn’t one that is universally held by Democrats or their supporters. People such as Bernie Sanders and Kamala Harris, who are hardly “moderates,” have both resisted endorsing the call to “Abolish ICE.”

    Bernie Sanders and Kamala Harris are not the voices of either Democrats or the Left. An idea doesn’t need universal acclaim; it needs to be popular enough to drive turnout.

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  40. @Doug Mataconis: But, Dems are the ones who turn out poorly (in relative terms) to Reps. As such, the question is who does all this more motivate?

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  41. BTW, to reiterate: “Abolish ICE” really isn’t about abolishing ICE. It is about ending cruel enforcement of immigration laws. It is about children in prison. It is about arresting green card holders for misdemeanors committed 2 decades ago.

    And yes, the GOP has never gotten rid of the Departments of Education and Energy (oops) but that never stopped them making political points about them.

    And the IRS x1000.

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  42. @Ben Wolf:

    You’ve put words in my mouth that I’ve never uttered.

    And, in any case, case since I am not a Democrat I’m not really in the business of offering them advice or caring whether they listen to me or not. The “Abolish ICE” argument, without any other substance attached to it, though, seems as empty to me as conservative arguments about abolishing the IRS or the Department of Education.

    My main argument during the 2016 primary was that Bernie Sanders had no realistic chance of winning that race, and no realistic chance of winning a hypothetical General Election. I stand by those arguments, which are, in any case, off topic from the subject matter of this post so not really an appropriate topic to address here.

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  43. @Steven L. Taylor:

    If that’s the case, then let’s hear the Democrats talk about how they’d change the laws and the policies, which has been my entire point in all three of the posts I’ve written about the whole “Abolish ICE” meme.

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  44. @Doug Mataconis: Except, of course, that’s not how mass mobilization works.

    I wish a calm discussion of policy options was what got people going, but it isn’t. Simple slogans and symbols tend to be more effective at a mass level.

    ICE has become a symbol of Trump’s white nationalist approach to immigration enforcement.

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  45. @Steven L. Taylor:

    ICE has become a symbol of Trump’s white nationalist approach to immigration enforcement.

    Which is kind of Tumulty’s point. We already know that Trump is going to use hot-button issues to mobilize his base in November (i.e., the whole NFL Anthem thing). Handing him another one seems to me to be rather short-sighted,

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  46. @Doug Mataconis:

    If that’s the case, then let’s hear the Democrats talk about how they’d change the laws and the policies, which has been my entire point in all three of the posts I’ve written about the whole “Abolish ICE” meme.

    One more direct response to this: I would note that 2016 had one candidate who was vague and used a lot of symbolism and slogans and another candidate who talked about a lot of policy specifics. Setting aside the role of our electoral rules, note who in the WH.

    And I am not dismissing policy specifics, nor am I suggesting symbolism and sloganeering uber alles. I am just noting that you (and Marcus, and often myself) are falling into the trap that policy serious people often do: assuming that substance is all that matters and all the symbolic stuff is just fluff.

    I would note that a major reason to have parties is to present symbols to voters, not white papers.

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  47. @Doug Mataconis:

    Which is kind of Tumulty’s point. We already know that Trump is going to use hot-button issues to mobilize his base in November (i.e., the whole NFL Anthem thing). Handing him another one seems to me to be rather short-sighted,

    Not if it motivates Democratic voters. The mistake that is made in these conversations, I think, is to dismiss the degree to which the whole point of such slogans is to motivate one’s own side–not to convince those who are already going to vote against you.

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  48. James Pearce says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    If this “movement” has the effect of increasing Democratic turnout because of mobilization, then it will have been a resounding success.

    “Success” being, what, electing Democrats?

    Here’s Nancy Pelosi on Twitter last night:

    “During a call with Members of Congress today, I asked @SecAzar to finally respond to @SenSchumer’s & my request for a concrete plan for reunifying families. HHS official ended the call without even letting me finish the question.”

    We have this idea that we need to elect Democrats to serve as a hedge against Republican awfulness, and yet….

    Back in 07, Dems sided with nativist Republicans to kill 07’s reform bill, which would have offered a path to citizenship. They spent the Obama years ramping up enforcement and boasting of “record deportations.” And now, they’re tweeting about how HHS is just hanging up on them?

    At what point do we consider the Dems to be part of the problem and not the solution?

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  49. @James Pearce:

    At what point do we consider the Dems to be part of the problem and not the solution?

    Well, at the moment they are closer to being the side for a solution than are the Reps.

    Reality dictates that there are only two choices here.

    The perfect being the enemy of the good and all that.

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  50. @Steven L. Taylor:

    And what if the slogan ends up motivating the opposition as much as it motivates the base, or more?

    Of course we have no idea if immigration will be a big issue in November in any case. Democrats believed it would help bring out Latino voters in 2016. As it turned out, Latino turnout in 2016 was not appreciably different than it was in 2012 or 2008, and Trump ended up with 28% of the Latino vote, compared to Romney’s 27% in 2012 and McCain’s 31% in 2008.

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  51. @Doug Mataconis:

    And what if the slogan ends up motivating the opposition as much as it motivates the base, or more?

    Based on that logic, neither side should campaign.

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  52. @Steven L. Taylor:

    And that’s not at all what I, or Tumulty, are saying,

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  53. @Doug Mataconis: On one level, it is. There is a chance that any slogan, symbol, or party platform plank can be used by the other side.

    I reject Marcus’ basic thesis because Trump is going to campaign “over security and law enforcement, rather than massive detention centers and frantic parents who cannot find their children.” And yes, “It is one he can win” because xenophobia is a huge motivator. This is true regardless of what Dems do.

    I find “Democrats calling to eliminate ICE will have given him a potent weapon with which to do it” to be a poor assessment because a) he is going to say the Dems are for open border and crime not matter what they say, so b) if “Abolish ICE” helps motivate Dem voters, it is not a help to Reps.

    It may not work, but I am utterly unconvinced that this helps Trump more than it helps Dems.

    I understand that we disagree.

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  54. James Pearce says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Well, at the moment they are closer to being the side for a solution than are the Reps.

    I’d like to think that, but I’m not sure “abolish ICE” actually means they’re closer to a solution. It seems like they’ve given up on trying for a solution and are just going with something shiny to interest their unmotivated base.

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  55. @James Pearce: There is no such thing as a total solution to policy problems. We are never going to get an immigration system that solves all problems.

    It seems like they’ve given up on trying for a solution and are just going with something shiny to interest their unmotivated base.

    It is called “campaigning”–and like it or not, voters need to be motivated to vote. In a perfect world that would not be the case, but ain’t no living in a perfect world. Ain’t no perfect world, anyway.

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  56. An Interested Party says:

    All this tut-tutting about how this will backfire on Dems has the vague whiff of concern trolling…the bottom line is that simple sloganeering can help turnout, so why shouldn’t the Dems use this to their advantage…

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  57. @An Interested Party: I think a lot of this is based in the mythology that there are a lot of persuadable voters out there who might be turned off my certain slogans, when I think that the evidence dictates that the real issue is mobilizing partisans.

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  58. Todd says:

    @Doug Mataconis: You know how you, as a lawyer, probably get pretty annoyed when non-lawyers insist on arguing with you about topics on which you very likely possess more expertise?

    Well, in this back and forth between you and Steven, one of you is a political scientist …

    Your points are all well taken, but I hope I can be forgiven if I give more weight to Steven’s arguments here.

    lol, it also helps that I he agreed with me … but that’s beside the point. 😉

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  59. Kari Q says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Actually most of them vote based on pocketbook issues and things that directly impact them

    While I wish this was true, it isn’t. People vote on identity and emotion. The typical Republican who voted for Trump lived in an area with relatively few immigrants and where there is little to no impact from immigration. If they voted on their pocketbooks, then immigration would make them shrug. If they voted on issues that directly impact them, they would shrug again. But you’re telling us that campaigning against ICE (and by extension the immigration policies of Trump) will motivate those voters to turn out.

    Areas with lots of immigrants, on the other hand, went for Clinton.

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  60. I would note the Moore-Jones race here in AL. The result was far more about turnout than it was about getting people to party-switch.

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  61. Todd says:

    If this topic contributes to Democrats blowing another (arguably) winnable election this fall, I all but guarantee that it will be because too many of them decide to spend time responding to the (false) Republican narrative, instead just sticking to the kind of clear explanation @Steven L. Taylor: made in his comment.

    BTW, to reiterate: “Abolish ICE” really isn’t about abolishing ICE. It is about ending cruel enforcement of immigration laws. It is about children in prison. It is about arresting green card holders for misdemeanors committed 2 decades ago.

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  62. James Pearce says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    We are never going to get an immigration system that solves all problems.

    Yes, but we went from “path to citizenship” to “abolish ICE.” One is a responsible approach to governance and the other is barely even governance.

    It is called “campaigning”–and like it or not, voters need to be motivated to vote.

    Granted, but shouldn’t Dems be campaigning on things they intend to deliver? The Dems aren’t going to abolish ICE, not in this imperfect world or any other, and they’re not even going to try.

    Their base needs motivation for a reason.

    @An Interested Party:

    the vague whiff of concern trolling

    I’m a Dem voter who doesn’t want to live under Trumpist hegemony for any longer than I have to. If I was a Trump supporter I would say, “It’s Christmas and I want to open my presents.”

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  63. JKB says:

    You would think that New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand or Sen. Warren would try to at least demonstrate some knowledge and nuance if they want to ride this into 2020. Would it be so wrong if their support for ‘Abolish ICE’ was nuanced to point out that Border Patrol is not part of ICE? Only providing air and marine support to ICE operations.

    Or that they aren’t against Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), a part of ICE, who investigate transnational gangs, terrorists and such?

    The first might anger the activists who probably lump Border Patrol in with ICE. The second is a cudgel to be used against those candidates pushing abolish ICE, by painting them against fighting MS-13 or terrorists.

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  64. JKB says:

    Harsh truth. And from Vox

    The Trump administration has worked hard to downplay this history, but it’s worth remembering that it was under President Obama that the US reached its high-water mark for immigration enforcement. By pretty much any quantitative measure — arrests, deportations, the share of all deportees who had no criminal record — any year of Obama’s first term saw more aggressive immigration enforcement than Trump’s first year.

    But because ICE was being run by a Democrat — one who had promised to legalize unauthorized immigrants — many progressives didn’t pay much attention at the time. And, more important, the policy was packaged very differently: The administration itself downplayed the aggressiveness of its tactics. It spent most of its time promising that ICE was going after “felons, not families” — though it wasn’t until November 2014, when a DHS memo set restrictive guidelines on when ICE could arrest unauthorized immigrants, that “felons, not families” became more or less a reality.

    Objectively, the Trump immigration agenda — “unshackling” ICE agents and reiterating that every unauthorized immigrant “should be worried” about getting deported — is a reinstatement of the status quo during Obama’s first term. But because it’s a change from a period of relative safety — deportations did go down in the final years of the Obama administration — and because of Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric, it feels like something new.

    I’m sure it would all be better if Trump held is pinky finger out while emulating Obama. Or just to signal his class membership in DC.

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  65. @JKB: This is largely quite true–Obama tried to do what the GOP wanted: increase security so that other issues could be dealt with. And we see where that got us.

    I wrote about this here over four years ago: The Problem with the House GOP’s Position on Immigration Reform in One Chart.

    Let me underscore: the GOP has said for years that they would address broader immigration problems if security was attended to. The Obama administration objectively tried to do that, and in response the Republicans said they couldn’t trust Obama to enforce the laws (see the post).

    I would say, however, that ““unshackling” ICE agents and reiterating that every unauthorized immigrant “should be worried” about getting deported — is a reinstatement of the status quo during Obama’s first term” is incorrect in terms of who is being targeted and how–although yes, there were some cruel implementations under the Obama administration, which I disagreed with at the time.

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  66. wr says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Michael, you’re smarter than this.

    Abolish ICE is a slogan, and like most slogans it’s a metaphor. What it means to those who are listening is “abolish the cruel program of using what is essentially an unbounded quasi-military force to hunt down immigrants living peaceably in our communities and ripping babies from the arms of their mothers.”

    Like MAGA, it’s a rallying cry that can be put on a bumper sticker. Underneath there should be nuance and platforms and programs — but the single, clear image has to come first.

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  67. James Pearce says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    the GOP has said for years that they would address broader immigration problems if security was attended to. The Obama administration objectively tried to do that, and in response the Republicans said they couldn’t trust Obama to enforce the laws

    Yes, Obama tried to buy some Republican votes by stepping up enforcement, and when the Republicans balked, the matter was basically dropped.

    No further attempt at immigration reform was made.

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  68. Yank says:

    I think a lot of this is based in the mythology that there are a lot of persuadable voters out there who might be turned off my certain slogans, when I think that the evidence dictates that the real issue is mobilizing partisans.

    This.

    Political pundits tend to make two mistake every election. They overstate how many swing voters there truly are and they exaggerate how conservative the electorate truly is. This ICE stuff will have little impact on the elections. The people who think Democrats are for open borders are already voting Republican.

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  69. @James Pearce:

    No further attempt at immigration reform was made.

    While it is true that the Democrats held the House for the first two years of the Obama administration (which was mostly focused on health care reform and the Great Recession), the GOP controlled the House for the remaining 6 years.

    You aren’t going to get immigration reform with a Republican controlled House (even when GWB was president).

    I am not saying the the Democrats are blameless, that would be a foolish position to take, but this is not a case in which “both sides” is a good argument.

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  70. @Yank: Exactly.

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  71. Andy says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    BTW, to reiterate: “Abolish ICE” really isn’t about abolishing ICE. It is about ending cruel enforcement of immigration laws. It is about children in prison. It is about arresting green card holders for misdemeanors committed 2 decades ago.

    I see two problems with this:

    – If your slogan isn’t actually about the problem you’re trying to fix, then I would think that is a problem. It will inevitably confuse some voters.

    – Secondly, the Democrats are the party of government and a slogan that pits them against a government agency is inconsistent and contradictory to their brand. It doesn’t make sense for Democrats to campaign on all things that government can do to improve the lives of Americans and at the same time campaign against government even if its only one agency. And especially if you’re not actually serious about actually abolishing said agency.

    To me the incoherence is hard to miss.

    The argument that the GOP has been successful campaigning against government agencies so the Democrats should do it too has a few glaring problems. Primarily, that tactic works for the GOP because opposition to government is part of the GOP brand (regardless of the very different reality). Using the GOP playbook to try achieve the Democrats desired political ends seems, well, counterproductive.

    But I could be wrong. Partisan cognitive dissonance never ceases to impress, so maybe it will work.

    Even though I loathe both parties I really am hoping the Democrats take one or both chambers this fall, so I have a small stake in their success. Divided government is far superior to single party rule.

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  72. Andy says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    I think a lot of this is based in the mythology that there are a lot of persuadable voters out there who might be turned off my certain slogans, when I think that the evidence dictates that the real issue is mobilizing partisans.

    Then what is your explanation for all the white working class voters who voted for Obama twice and then voted for Trump? Without them, we wouldn’t have Trump as President.

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  73. Todd says:

    @Andy: Two things …

    1) I think there is more evidence that poor Democratic turnout in WI, MI and PA is what really cost Hillary Clinton the 2016 election.

    2) Any of the Obama to Trump white working class voters who were persuaded to switch for the 2016 election certainly didn’t do so because of a “moderate” message.

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  74. de stijl says:

    This is mostly about who is able to be angry without legal consequence.

    White and male… Understandable, c’mon, boys will be boys, they’s just lettin’ off a little steam. Let’s not get all legalistic on enforcing *all* those laws now, am I right, fellas? That fella had it comin’ anyway.

    White males have 100% right to be angry and to talk about acting on it.

    Everyone else has much less access to public anger unless you want to be jailed. Being angry in public is extraordinarily aggressive and problematic.

    Excused public anger is a privilege that is not based on the responsibility those groups have shown previously.

    Public anger is allowed only in a narrow way by certain people. Those outside get much less leeway. I am white and male and I flat-out know that I am allowed to be publicly angry in ways that no one else is allowed to be.

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  75. Todd says:

    One more thought …

    I’ve thought for a while that the idea of a significant number of “swing” voters is largely a myth. But in the times we live in, that’s even more true in this upcoming election. At this moment in time, the contrasts between the parties (and the agendas they will pursue if in power) couldn’t be more clear.

    I think whether they will admit it publicly or not, just everybody who’s at least interested enough to think they might vote in November already knows exactly which side they will vote for.

    Just as in every other election, there will of course be some people who choose to stay home and/or just don’t get around to voting. But I have serious doubts that there are many people out there who are even a little bit persuadable about which party will get their vote if they do make it to the polls.

    And really, let’s be honest here. If a couple of liberal Democratic Presidential hopefuls coming out in favor of “abolishing ICE” enables the party of a President who directed the human rights abuses (willfully separating young children from their parents) carried out by ICE to maintain power, then our country was already pretty much past the point of no return anyway.

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  76. de stijl says:

    Who is allowed anger is a big deal.

    Angry white guys get “Hey, it’s a free country. They have a right to protest.”

    Everyone else who is angry gets dismissed, or some form of a beat-down.

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  77. de stijl says:

    @Andy

    – If your slogan isn’t actually about the problem you’re trying to fix, then I would think that is a problem. It will inevitably confuse some voters.

    Are you against all bumper-sticker slogans? Or just some of them?

    – Secondly, the Democrats are the party of government and a slogan that pits them against a government agency is inconsistent and contradictory to their brand.

    That is utterly asinine. If I’m pro-government (or anti-anarchy) does that mean I must support all possible governmental policies that could possibly be enacted? That’s ludicrous on its face.

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  78. de stijl says:

    Good God, y’all, don’t let @Andy of all people talk you out of a winning position proposition. He wants you to be civil and subtle because that means he wins.

    If you want Ds to retake the House and the Senate in November, do not take any advice from James Pearce or Andy. There are here to thwart your resolve and talk you out of trying.

    #AbolishICE is not a hard win, but is not a guaranteed loser like those fellas say. Ds can play hard too. I know, folks freak when Ds throw an elbow because we have trained them that we are civil and responsible and the adults in the room.

    So when we throw elbows, when we get mad, when we play hard-ball, people know we actually *mean* it, unlike those other guys who:

    take your engineered FNC fueled outrage money and give it to Tucker Carlson’s Perplexed Fund for the Perpetually Dumbfounded because we’ve been grifting on you since Reagan because we think you’re easily and eminently refillable white trash wallets.

    Rs got away with “Repeal *and* Replace” for years and years and bilking your grandparents on it until that became suddenly nonfunctional last year with zero apology or acknowledgment.

    Voters will get a not-x *and* pro-y message quite easily. They’re humans not snails.

    Voters will get a kill and fix message. They’ve gotten it for years.

    And do not let people who wish you harm to talk you out of it. Pearce is not a D, and neither is Andy. Neither of them wish you well and both wish you harm.

    Many more Americans dislike / hate the family separation policy than support it and those that do support it are entirely R voters. We lose nothing by pimping and exploiting that.

    Only one-third of Americans take pride in being knowingly and selectively cruel on purpose. Those people will never vote for you so ignore them.

    Recruit Independents who are not pro-cruelty… (That is crazy, that there is actually a pro-cruelty faction.)

    You have two people on this thread who are telling you not to use the most obviously advantageous tool that has existed in your lifetime to defeat a flat-out narcissistic and evil threat to our existence.

    Stick those elbows out, play hard, do not go gentle. FFS try!

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  79. wr says:

    @Andy: “Secondly, the Democrats are the party of government and a slogan that pits them against a government agency is inconsistent and contradictory to their brand.”

    Say what? So because Democrats in general favor the use of government to improve the lives of citizens, they must endorse anything a government does? “Man, I really hate the fact that children are being ripped away from their parents, put in cages, and abandoned, but it’s the government doing it, so I guess I have to support it. Go kidnappers!”

    That’s about as incoherent an argument as I’ve ever heard.

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  80. Andy says:

    @Todd:

    I think whether they will admit it publicly or not, just everybody who’s at least interested enough to think they might vote in November already knows exactly which side they will vote for.

    I think that’s probably true for the kinds of people here – those who spend the time and are actively engaged and interested in politics all the time.

    But we are a small minority of the population. Most people do not think of politics that much. I doubt many can even name the candidates in their own districts at this point, much less decide who they will vote for.

    I also disagree with you about swing voters. I think they are very real and can be decisive, though not in every case. But of course, I’m biased because I’m one of those swing (nonpartisan actually) voters.

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  81. teve tory says:

    @de stijl: For a long while it seemed like I was the only one two noticed those two were trolls.

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  82. Andy says:

    de stijl and WR,

    I think you both missed my point. Let me try it another way:

    The Democrats aren’t actually going to abolish ICE. Campaigning on something you don’t actually intend to do does not seem like a smart strategy when there are other options available – why not #abolishfamilyseparation? That slogan is actually what the issue is about, it’s coherent, and it is consistent with and supports the larger Democratic brand. So explain to me why #abolishICE would be superior for the Democrat’s prospects.

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  83. Andy says:

    @teve tory:

    For a long while it seemed like I was the only one two noticed those two were trolls.

    I’ve been reading commenting here for almost a decade under the same name and I’ve been clear and honest during that entire time about my politics and what I stand for. Accusing me of being a troll only demonstrates your own inability to pay attention and follow along. The “troll” accusation is also the lamest and laziest ad hominem attack out there.

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  84. Lounsbury says:

    @Andy:
    Abolish Family Seperation would seem a winning slogan that is hard to demonize.

    Abolish an immigration service, whatever alphabet soup organizational acroynym is used, is something easy to demonize and attack…

    Andy here is spot on.

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  85. de stijl says:

    We have kids in lice-ridden immigration lock-ups today that we cannot return to their rightful parents because the parents have already been deported and that is abominably cruel.

    We are detaining kids that we cannot match with their rightful parents still housed in US facilities because we didn’t maintain records properly.

    So we are cruel on purpose and we suck at 101-level basic project management.

    We are ignoring and flouting international law on how refugees and asylum seekers must be treated, again, on purpose. Jeff Sessions laid it out very clearly – family separation was the price to be paid for the very attempt at asylum seeking / border crossing.

    It was deliberate, unlawful cruelty as established Trump administration policy. They put toddlers into cages on purpose to punish the parents as a deterrent for future border engagements.

    And then they claim they do not have the resources to adequately re-unite them with their parents because ICE computers cannot interface with US Border Patrol which cannot interface with ORR which cannot interface with third – party contractors who were paid by all of us to detain those babies and toddlers.

    It’s not hyperbole, USBP personnel and contractors are reviewing every child’s folder by hand to try to determine who his or her parents are because they are forced to by court order to reunite the children with the parent(s) by months end.

    But because a ICE, USBP, ORR, 3P contractor cross-departmental basic database computer sort / check cannot be currently accomplished, they are now doing it by hand, all hands on deck, including people not skilled in reading raw notes like the Director. Just readin’ files. I predict utter success. What could possibly go wrong?

    They are as inept as they are cruel.

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  86. de stijl says:

    Why not both?

    #StopFamilySepartions and #AbolishICE? We’ve already established that the voting public is super cool with a kill and fix party/ candidate promise. It was the R pledge & promise for three cycles.

    Family separations halted weeks ago because of voter / constituent pressure from us. ICE still exists.

    Why would we want to continue to support an agency that violated international law because they were following orders?

    We stopped family separations in spite of the “be civil, be polite” folks, not because of the “be civil, be polite” crowd. In fact, in direct contradiction they argued against it. T’wasn’t proper.

    If barely literate troglodytes can pull off “Repeal and Replace” for 3 cycles without actually wanting and actively politicking against the “and Replace” bit, we can handle a handful of full-out #AbolishICE candidates on the roster.

    Your premise is wrong. This is not a minor dispute about immigration policy, this is about basic human decency.

    Make no mistake, Rs got off on this because our family separation policy was wanton hard-core dickishness. They liked it because it was cruel. It appealed to their very nature. They could give zero fucks on the subject of Guatemalan gang culture and how that intersects with Guatemalan children and their parents. The very topic offends their sensibilities and their conception of how the nation was founded and how it should proceed.

    #StopFamilySeparations is your dodge, but it does not yield any votes that we do not already get. You are not a troll, I never said that, You believe what you write. Not a troll. You are a collaborator.

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  87. Andy says:

    @de stijl:

    Your premise is wrong. This is not a minor dispute about immigration policy, this is about basic human decency.

    I assume you’re talking to me?

    What premise is that – do not assume you can know what my premises are. I never said this was a “minor dispute” about immigration policy, please do not put words in my mouth.

    #StopFamilySeparations is your dodge, but it does not yield any votes that we do not already get.

    What do you mean by “dodge?”

    My questions stands, why is #abolishICE better than #abolishfamilyseparation or any number of alternatives?

    You are not a troll, I never said that

    I know, I was replying to teve tory, not you.

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  88. @Andy:

    Then what is your explanation for all the white working class voters who voted for Obama twice and then voted for Trump? Without them, we wouldn’t have Trump as President.

    To be clear, I am not saying that such voters do not exist. I am saying that a) they are not the force that pundits often make them out to be (i.e., the decisive, shifting middle that each side has to persuade), and b) turnout is far more significant than swing voters as a variable.

    Look, I am not going to die on the hill that “Abolish ICE” is the best slogan or even, necessarily, the right slogan. I just don’t buy the argument that it empowers the GOP and does nothing for Democrats. I can see an argument that it could mobilize some voters. I think those voters who are already of the opinion that Dems want open border and an MS13 invasion are already in that camp and “Abolish ICE” isn’t what puts them over the edge.

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  89. @Andy: In regards to “swing voters” I would note the following:

    True swing voters are a small percentage of the population (they do not correspond with “independents” in surveys). Most people who call themselves “independent” or even think of themselves as someone who “votes the candidates, not the party” actually has a pretty solid partisan lean in their voting (indeed, they often are actually functional partisans).

    Most districts are not bell shaped in their ideological distributions, which actually means that the truly moderate voter isn’t the swing voter. Indeed, most districts don’t have a lot of room for swing as they are wholly non-competitive. (And in this case, that includes states as districts in the EC or in Senate races).

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  90. Not to get into a big debate about this, but let me say that Andy is not a troll. He engages in the conversation.

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  91. My most basic point in this thread, btw, is that there is a lot of overthinking going on about campaign slogans, their use and substance.

    Hope?

    MAGA?

    People pour their own meaning into these things all the time.

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  92. wr says:

    @Andy: “The Democrats aren’t actually going to abolish ICE”

    Why not? You change the name, put a (human) person in charge, change its mission statement to reflect its actual purpose (as opposed to eliminating all non-whites from the country) and Bob’s your uncle.

    You seem to think this is the equivalent of eliminating the electoral college, instead of remaking a fifteen year-old bureaucracy.

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  93. wr says:

    @Andy: I’ve never thought you were a troll, by the way. Someone I frequently disagree with, but with a consistent ideological background informing your posts. We’ve got lots of trolls here, and a couple of people who are right on the edge, but I’d never toss you in with them.

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  94. de stijl says:

    Andy is not a troll. I said that previously. Andy is habitually the contrary take. When does habitually become almost, almost always? Andy is (very) habitually contrary. Contrary can be good or bad. (Pearce actually is actively trollish about 60-70% of the time on pupose.) Andy I rarely engage with because caution on my part.

    Being contrary is neither bad, nor good. But I do not trust that Andy has my best interests at heart. Always contrary means I don’t ever know what you really believe and when you are being “challenging.” Being “challenging” often because that’s your thing makes you not trust you a lot. Being “challenging” all the time means you like conflict over conversation or exchange of ideas and I trust you zero. My take is to trust Andy very little.

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  95. Andy says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    People pour their own meaning into these things all the time.

    Probably true, but I think marketing still matters and so it’s useful to think about how slogans will play with people who aren’t immersed in politics because those are the people each party needs to win. Slogans that play well with the die-hard base don’t necessarily do well with a wider audience. Also, the two examples you gave are examples of more effect slogans because they’re upbeat, positive and indicate a preference for improvement. A slogan that begins with “abolish” brings in negative connotations and probably isn’t as effective.

    So, an even better slogan might be #keepfamiliestogether. Who could possibly be against that, against hope, or against making America great? Part of a good slogan is preventing the opposition from using it as a weapon.

    Not to get into a big debate about this, but let me say that Andy is not a troll. He engages in the conversation.

    Thank you very much for that.

    As far as turnout goes, do you know whether turnout among the “base” is more important than turnout by “leaners?” The parties seem to spend a lot of effort to register and get low-information voters to the polls. I would think this makes leaner turnout more important since the base is relatively small, but honestly, I don’t know.

    Also, I would think electoral shifts matter a great deal as well – for example, the Blue Dogs and Reagan Democrats seem to have shifted more strongly to the GoP in recent years.

    Indeed, most districts don’t have a lot of room for swing as they are wholly non-competitive.

    Definitely true, which is why most districts aren’t competitive. However, I do think swing votes matter for the few remaining “purple” districts and those are the districts that will determine who controls the House. Unfortunately, I’m in a staunchly Republican district despite my voting preferences.

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  96. Andy says:

    @de stijl:

    Andy is not a troll. I said that previously. Andy is habitually the contrary take.

    It’s true I’m a contrarian – meaning that I usually post when I disagree with something and rarely post to essentially say “I agree.” I should definitely be more cognizant of how that is perceived.

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  97. Charon says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Of course we have no idea if immigration will be a big issue in November in any case.

    Trump keeps telling people immigration is the issue that will rev up the GOP base and produce a “red wave.” So, there is at least one key player who wants to make it a big issue.

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  98. @Andy:

    As far as turnout goes, do you know whether turnout among the “base” is more important than turnout by “leaners?” The parties seem to spend a lot of effort to register and get low-information voters to the polls. I would think this makes leaner turnout more important since the base is relatively small, but honestly, I don’t know.

    Probably depends on how you define “base” and “leaners”–but on balance, mobilizing your dedicated voters is the place to start. If you can’t get them out, the leaners won’t matter.

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  99. Michael Reynolds says:

    @wr: @de stijl:
    I agree re: @Andy. I often disagree with Andy but he’s honest and he makes his points honestly.

    A troll is by definition dishonest. See: @TM01 for example, who lies almost as frequently as his Cult Leader.

    I for one always make a point of reading what @Andy has to say. My goal is not to be right but to find the truth, or as much of it as I can, and intelligent, informed opposition is my favorite way to put my own ideas to the test.

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  100. Blue Galangal says:

    @de stijl: That was a thing of beauty. Thank you.

    Andy and JP are microcosms of the larger conversation about what Democrats “should” do (see: Matty Iglesias, almost any given day). Because if Democrats keep playing the GOP’s Calvinball, the Republicans will just keep Calvinning. Democrats need to stop engaging on their terms and stop worrying if they don’t like us or if we’re being mean.

    I think the major meta-criticism I have of Obama is that it took him too long to realise that the Republicans were not engaging in good faith (I think HRC also suffered from this), in part because it is difficult for rational people to engage with people who not only advocate but enthusiastically embrace the counterfactual, because it doesn’t make sense to us. We saw this all the way into the fall of 2016, where he backed down to McConnell threatening to make political hay if the FBI investigation of Trump’s campaign was revealed. Woulda, shoulda, coulda, but I imagine he regrets greatly not taking the hit on that one now.

    The GOP as a party should be regarded as an abusive malignant narcissist and treated as such: shunned, shamed, and abhorred.

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  101. Andy says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Thanks Michael,

    We do sometimes disagree but I think we understand it’s not personal and that our respective views are honestly given.

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  102. de stijl says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Hope? MAGA?

    Hope or MAGA are aspirational brand slogans, #AbolishICE is a operational policy statement.

    #AbolishFamilySeparations already happened by EO signed by Trump because of constituent pressure which overrode Trump’s claim he was a.) blameless (it was D’s fault) and b.) he was helpless to stop it negating what Sessions said in proposing this policy change and later defending it. And utterly negated when Trump signed the EO ending the policy he, himself, created.

    IOW, a dodge. A policy proposed and enacted by an administration then later retracted by same when Stephen Miller’s prediction that triggering libs = success proved false and public pressure was overwhelming, is in fact, a dodge. We are currently really bad at it because of decisions about policy choices that were made months ago to enflame the base, trigger the libs, and make it really hard to back out of. And also bureaucratic BS and the inability to merge databases across agencies, like exporting to .txt and properly naming your columns parsing and standardized merging and cleansing of pretty standard name, date, location data is really freaking hard.

    #AbolshFamilySeparation… We’ve stopped separating families already. That would be the equivalent of #AbolishJimCrowLaws in the BLM era.

    #ReuniteSeparatedFamilies is something I would endorse. It needs to happen, now or soonest.

    Here’s one: #DontMimicNaziImmigrationPolicy or how about #LetsNotMakeICEIntoBrownShirtEquivalents

    (I get this isn’t a tweet and I don’t need to add the hash sign.)

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  103. de stijl says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Andy is honest and not a troll (I hope it’s now clear I never said that)

    But Andy is really bad at election strategy and tactics, because he he doesn’t really care who wins or loses and he hates both parties equally per his own words. Andy is the opposite of an engaged voter and responds, well, like Andy. It’d be like asking Gay Talese about Prince’s symbol stage. You’ll get a bunch a words pulled directly outta his butt strutting about the stage signifying nothing.

    Would you trust David Broder to be a straight shooter as to how Ds could win Lac qui Parle county? He won’t know but he will pontificate and he will push an agenda that will knowingly or not hurt our chances. Andy isn’t Lanny Davis level stupid like Pearce. Andy spends a lot of time trying to talk Ds out of things that will actually work for voter turnout and engagement because he finds them aesthetically distasteful.

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  104. de stijl says:

    @Blue Galangal:

    Not to brag or anything, but the phrase “Tucker Carlson’s Perplexed Fund for the Perpetually Dumbfounded”?

    I actually made that up on the spot just by thinking about his mien in every pic. Carlson is always 12 seconds past getting whacked by a canoe paddle on purpose. He cycles between the expressions for “Why would hit me pretty hard on purpose with a canoe paddle like that?” and “Oww! That kinda hurt!” every quarter second. Continual loop.

    Show me a picture of Tucker Carlson that doesn’t look exactly like that.

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  105. de stijl says:

    @de stijl:

    While you’re at it, try and find a picture of Donald Trump Jr. when he’s not super-concentrating on keeping his tongue equidistant from all of his teeth and his upper palate simultaneously.

    That guy walks around all day keeping his tongue like super centered.

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  106. Jim Brown 32 says:

    Abolish ICE would work fine–if weaved into the right story about ICE. For instance–Abolish ICE because they are incapable of keeping South American gang activity off the street but double down on ripping kids from their Mommies.

    Democrats need to tap into “Law and Order” messaging here–there is no emotional energy is fixing a policy. Fixing family separation policy is something described on a website and white papers for the wonks.

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  107. An Interested Party says:

    Democrats need to tap into “Law and Order” messaging here–there is no emotional energy is fixing a policy. Fixing family separation policy is something described on a website and white papers for the wonks.

    There is plenty of emotional energy in talking about doing away with the agency that is ripping children out of the arms of their parents and then putting those children in cages…

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  108. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @An Interested Party: Agreed. Trump reversed course straight away once the fire got too hot. That never would have happened had the narrative been about fixing policy. Government thugs run amok with the images to match…friggin priceless.

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  109. Pylon says:

    I have no trouble with the slogan. I am pretty tired of Dems worrying about backlash or how Repubs will spin something. “Abolish Ice” can work because, with the right spin, where ICE use to be seen as the tough immigration enforcement agency the right loved, they are now the thugs who separate babies from their parents. Keep up the branding, and the followup info to the slogan, and you will see Repubs starting to back away from ICE.

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