On The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell Wednesday night, MSNBC National Affairs Analyst John Heilemann wrote off Republican responses to President Trump’s immigration policy as little more than self-interested.
Heilemann argued that Republicans were facing an existential crisis and that “this policy was going to put 100 Republican seats in jeopardy.” In other words, he suggested that half of Republican-controlled seats would fall because of the policy. This is an overstatement to say the least, and the 2018 elections remain as competitive as ever.
More distressingly, however, Heilemann tried to draw a distinction between “us” and “them." He said that Trump’s executive order on Wednesday came about because “people were freaking out across the [Republican] party” but certainly “not because they cared about what we care about.” “We” is not specified, but be it the liberal media or the Democratic Party, “we” had empathy and was deeply concerned about “some version of Japanese internment brought to Hispanics crossing the border.” “They” or the Republicans, on the other hand, cared only “that this was going to be an absolute killing field with suburban women voters where Republicans need to hold if they have any prayer of holding the House.”
Apparently for Heilemann, Republicans can do no right. Not only have they opposed the immigration policy, but they did so after listening to their constituents, the job of elected representatives. In a republic, it is difficult to imagine any other rationale for politicians, as failure to respond to constituents can spell disaster.
Democrats, of course, learned this lesson in 2010 when forcing the unpopular ObamaCare through Congress cost them control of the House and caused the biggest swing in seats since 1948.
What Heilemann means is clear: while both Democrats and Republicans alike are concerned by the border crisis, Democratic politicians act out of the goodness of their hearts while Republican politicians act only for self-preservation.
The full transcript can be found below:
The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell
10:34:34 PM 10:35:14PM (40 secs)
JOHN HEILEMANN: Where they were on this policy was going to put 100 Republican seats in jeopardy. The reason he had to climb down–he’s backed down from various things before, but this was different as you pointed out. Republican Senators were writing to him, people were freaking out across the party not because they cared about what we care about, which is some version of Japanese internment brought to Hispanics crossing the border but over the fact that this was going to be an absolute killing field with suburban women voters where Republicans need to hold if they have any prayer of holding the House. His instincts are terrible on this and he's learning that now and he's gonna learn it more between now and November.
LAWRENCE O’DONNELL: John Heilemann, thank you very much for joining our discussion.