THE POST-GRIDLOCK REPUBLICANS

Richard Reeves

LOS ANGELES -- A Republican pollster named Jon Lerner, who usually works for the most conservative of his party's candidates, did a poll this month for Fwd.us, the pro-immigration lobby financed by Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook.

The results were analyzed last week by Molly Ball, who writes a blog for Atlantic magazine. She wrote:

"Republican congressmen fear for their political lives. That's the explanation you most often hear for the GOP's reluctance to approve a comprehensive immigration bill: The members of the House of Representatives, most of whom come from strongly Republican districts, worry they'll lose primaries to conservative challengers if they vote for what opponents consider an 'amnesty' bill...."

"Maybe not," she added.

Lerner himself, in a memo about his telephone poll of 1,000 Republican primary voters across the country, reported:

"There are around 20 percent of GOP primary voters who oppose most forms of immigration reform. This minority tends to be vocal, but their level of activism should not be confused with the size of their numbers. The large majority of primary voters see a badly broken immigration system and want it fixed."

And just under 80 percent said it was "very important" to fix the country's immigrant system. The same number said an "imperfect" fix would be preferable to no action at all.

My goodness! It seems that most Republicans are not as crazed as the obstructionists who represent them in Congress. The respondents, more than two-thirds of them, would allow illegal immigrants to become American citizens if they are willing to stay here 13 years, learn English, pay penalties and stay out of trouble.

Said Lerner, who works for the Club for Growth (way right-wing) and has counseled tea bag candidates running again Republican incumbents: "Contrary to some perceptions, it is clear that Republican members of Congress who support comprehensive immigration reform, including a pathway to citizenship, do not run afoul of the majority opinion of their primary voters."

He may be right. I hope he is, because like Zuckerberg and the rest of Silicon Valley, I think America needs more immigrants. Our birthrate seems to be hanging at just about 2 percent, and if we don't have more young people, whatever their complexion, we could go the way of Europe, where citizens are not replacing themselves with babies -- and they are more hostile to immigrants than Lerner's 20 percent of Republicans.

The most hostile group around are Republicans in Congress, including the ones who are afraid to vote against the most hostile conservative members. What that means is that the House majority members, who all face re-election next year, are not just against the immigration bill passed by a three-quarters, bipartisan vote of the Senate. It also means that the House Republicans would actually prefer no bill, no reform on this issue or most any other.

The House Republican goal can be best categorized as "sabotage governing." The word "sabotage" was used, I think, by Chuck Todd of NBC News and elaborated on by Greg Sargent, a liberal blogger for The Washington Post, who wrote:

"It's not unusual to hear dirty hippie liberal blogger types ... point out that today's GOP has effectively abdicated the role of functional opposition party, instead opting for a kind of post-policy nihilism in which sabotaging the Obama agenda has become its only guiding governing light."

So, our democratic government is post-gridlock now. And that might not change much until after the 2016 election of both a new president and new Congress. As crazy as they are, the vandals will most likely control the House again after the elections of 2014, which will actually be controlled by the state legislatures that make election law and have carved out districts designed to elect their fellow saboteurs -- er, excuse me, Republicans.

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