Tea Party Smells Blood In Immigration Fight

| Fri Apr. 19, 2013 1:55 PM EDT

Glenn Thrush and Reid Epstein report on one of the reasons that gun legislation failed in the Senate yesterday:

In the end, [] moderates and conservatives in the upper chamber said they simply couldn’t deal with a flurry of progressive issues at once — from gay marriage to immigration to guns....One senator told a White House official that it was “Guns, gays and immigration — it’s too much. I can be with you on one or two of them, but not all three.”

Some are taking this to suggest that voting against the gun bill gives conservatives a little more room to maneuver on immigration. So the silver lining here is that all the no votes on guns might mean a few more yes votes on immigration. Ed Kilgore is skeptical:

I wouldn't put much reliance on the idea that the demise of Manchin-Toomey is a blessing in disguise for progressives or for those still pining for a "bipartisan breeze" in Washington. For one thing, to continue the propitiation metaphor, the "base" is a jealous god, which views every act of ideological "betrayal" as sufficient to justify primary excommunication or primary challenges. For another, this fresh demonstration that "the base" has the power to compel party discipline on guns (only three Republicans joined former Club for Growth president Pat Toomey in the end) will make the desire to impose it on other subjects seem much more practicable. And third, to focus on the next issue coming up in the Senate, it's never been clear to me that the obsessive desire to find a way to detoxify the GOP among Latino voters--which is the elite factor driving the interest of Beltway Republicans in immigration reform--is shared that widely among hard-core conservative activists, who are more likely to think that insufficient ideological rigor continues to be the party's biggest problem.

I agree. Think about it from a liberal perspective. When the repeal of DADT passed in 2010, did we all breathe a sigh of relief and decide to give Democrats a pass on other legislation? Not a chance. On gay issues in particular, it simply convinced us that we were on the right side of history and that now was the time to push even harder than ever. On other issues, it didn't make much difference at all.

The same is true of the tea partiers. Winning produces energy, not apathy. Having smelled victory in the gun fight, they're now even more determined that they can win the immigration fight too. This was always going to be a very tight battle, and so far nothing has changed that. 

Get Mother Jones by Email - Free. Like what you're reading? Get the best of MoJo three times a week.