I’m often upbraided for equating the Republican center with the lunatic fringe, but increasingly, one substitutes for the other. That allegation gained credence yesterday, when John McCain (R-AZ), Jeff Sessions (R-AL), and Mitch McConnell (R-KY) all pledged their support to a nativism-inspired partial repeal of the Fourteenth Amendment.
Of course this plan has no real chance of success. Constitutional amendments are notoriously (and deliberately) tough to pass. This holds especially true with repeals of foundational principles: one doesn’t lightly tinker with the Fourteenth Amendment.
What’s more remarkable than the mainstreaming of anticonstitutionalism is that this represents the first sign of life from the Republican Party’s policy wing. Think it over. The Party offered no alternative to Obama’s financial reform bill (Grassley’s bemoaning of the death of strong derivatives reform — an outcome he himself suborned, and made no attempt to avoid — emphatically does not count). They half-heartedly proposed alternatives to the healthcare bill, but abandoned them as quickly. And for all that the tea parties push “repeal and replace,” all party functionaries, formal or otherwise, have much to say on the former, and nothing on the latter.
On all other matters the group has rather studiously hewed to Representative King (R-TX)’s theory that “having ideas” might be more of a liability than an asset. In some ways, this push for repealing birthright citizenship represents no change. No policy will come of it. Like the constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, this is just a showy way to make a divisive, nasty point, and sate the bloodlust of an increasingly ascendant periphery. I know (and am told) that there are intelligent, mainstream conservatives out there. But where are their representatives?