Senator Tim Kaine (D-Virginia) is chalking up his party’s failure to secure protections for DREAMers to, bizarrely, superior “tactics and strategy.”
Senate Democrats’ tactics and strategy were on full display during the budget debate, starting in late January, when Democrats shut down the federal government over Republicans’ refusal to include an extension of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA, which covers hundreds of thousands of immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children, have clean criminal records, and who are either employed, serving in the military, or enrolled in school). At the time Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) claimed victory at the end of the January shutdown, saying he had won a promise from Republicans to hold a vote on extending DACA.
The promise Sen. Schumer supposedly won from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) was never fulfilled, leading up to another DACA standoff ahead of the February 8 funding deadline. Rather than stick to their principles and demand Republicans hold up their end of their bargain, Democrats caved once again, with 37 of 49 Democratic senators voting for the budget bill with no DACA fix. The bill will fund the government through March 23, which is more than two weeks after the deadline for DACA applications expires. This gives Republicans little political impetus to extend DACA before the March 5 deadline.
Among those 37 Democrats who voted for the bill was Tim Kaine — Hillary Clinton’s vice presidential pick in the 2016 election.
Find out if your Senate Democrat sold out the DREAMers once again. pic.twitter.com/0moHptRHfc
— Justice Democrats (@justicedems) February 9, 2018
In an interview with Politico explaining his decision to vote for the budget bill, Tim Kaine argued that the grassroots activists who were pushing him to take a principled stance on DACA lacked understanding of political “tactics and strategy.”
“We listen carefully to [activists] on matters of policy,” Kaine told Politico. “But often on matters of tactics and strategy, those of us who have been here a while and kind of know it … on policy yes, tactics less.”
Tim Kaine was famous on the campaign stump for giving entire speeches in Spanish in swing states with large Hispanic populations like Florida, painting the Clinton campaign — and Democrats by default — as the party most friendly to immigrants. In October of 2016, Sen. Kaine spoke at a Catholic Church in Miami, citing a Bible story meant to underscore Democrats’ commitment to helping the poor and downtrodden.
Kaine also showed off his familiarity with Scripture, recounting the story of the Good Samaritan and stressing the importance of compassion and help for those less fortunate.
He promised that if he and Clinton are elected, theirs will be an administration in which, “Cada dia, estamos trabajando para hacer una differencia en la vida de la gente.” (Every day, we’re working to make a difference in the lives of the people.)
As history shows, the Clinton/Kaine campaign nonetheless fell short in securing enough electoral college votes to defeat Donald Trump — who defeated Clinton despite battling sexual misconduct allegations from nearly two dozen women in the weeks prior to the election.
Tim Kaine’s remarks suggesting he has better “tactics and strategy” than grassroots immigration rights activists are particularly interesting given that in 2016, he and Clinton spent nearly twice as much money as Trump, racked up 57 endorsements from leading newspapers of record along with 110 endorsements from military leaders, had the benefit of leading pollsters like Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight predicting Clinton and Kaine would win in a landslide, and still managed to lose to a scandal-ridden, former reality TV host with zero political experience.
Sen. Kaine’s vote came after House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-California) delivered a passionate eight-hour speech (in four-inch heels) filibustering the House version of the budget bill due to its lack of protection for immigrants dependent on DACA. Despite Pelosi’s efforts, 73 of 193 House Democrats still voted in favor of the bill.
Michael Boone is a freelance journalist and columnist writing about politics, government, race, and media. He graduated from Texas Southern University’s School of Communication, and lives in Houston’s Third Ward.