Green Room

Re: Shifting on immigration

posted at 7:07 pm on November 13, 2012 by

Earlier today, Ed published a widely acclaimed, err.. positively debated, um… frequently commented upon post titled, Time to cut a deal on immigration As one might imagine, this elicited some rather passionate responses on both sides. (Okay… mostly on one side.) But he’s bringing up something important where a distinction needs to be drawn between what is immediately possible and what the future holds. It’s an important definition to establish in the discussion. First, let’s look at what Ed was actually talking about.

Frankly, I’m more concerned about the border issue than winning Hispanic voters at this point. We’ve been fortunate so far that we haven’t had more infiltration than we’ve seen across either border, but that good fortune won’t last forever. We need to address both that and the visa system that doesn’t produce any follow-up on violators. We have waited since 2007 to win back control of Washington to win a solution on our terms rather than a compromise that would both pass more quickly and spread the political risk.

Now that we’ve lost the presidential election, we won’t have that opportunity for another four years. We still have the House, though, and that gives us leverage to insist on prioritizing border security and visa reform ahead of normalization for those illegal aliens in the US. In two years, on the current trajectory, we may not even have that much, and there is no guarantee that a Republican will win the presidency in 2016, either.

This is the short term, “take what you can get” approach which may turn out to be the best damage control achievable. If the nation is in the mood for some hot and heavy bipartisan horse trading, the door may well be open to precisely what Ed proposes. An intelligent approach to border security could arrive along with a fresh look at the dreaded “path to citizenship” which so many find offensive. But if the second point I want to touch on tonight is valid, it may be well to remember the old adage about half a loaf being better than none.

In the long run, while Ed pretty much dismissed the question of whether or not the GOP should – or even can – win a significantly larger portion of the Latino vote, it’s a serious question for the future. And I’m not talking about the distant future. I’m referring to 2016 and who knows how long after that. Is changing the GOP platform on immigration likely to yield a bountiful harvest of votes?

My gut reaction is not only no, but heck no. Had the GOP pushed forward some candidates and party leaders in the Spring and Summer of this year with a modified, balanced message on this subject it might have made significant inroads. But when you come crawling away from an electoral beat down and suddenly say, “Oh, I guess we should start supporting immigration reform since we got our butts kicked” I don’t think you’re going to win over many Latino voters. In fact, I’d expect they would rightly see it as patronizing and phony. That’s not moving any votes, nor should it.

But then what to do? I think you have to ask yourself the following question. Do you accept that the GOP really is the “party of white people” and that racial divisions in the nation’s political DNA are not only real, but so permanent that minorities will forever vote for Democrats in titanic proportions? Because if you do believe that, then demographic trends should tell you that it’s time to pack up the Republican Party in its old kit bag and send it out into the sunset. President Obama didn’t even take 40% of the white vote last week and he still won. That party is over… pun intended.

But what to do about the fact that minority voters DO in fact currently vote for Democrats in massive proportions? The reality is that just putting up a few candidates or high profile, well paid pundits of color to represent the popularity of Republicans isn’t going to move the needle in any substantive way. You don’t need more minorities being elected or hired as “Conservative entertainment industry” stars. You need more real people who go out and vote and who speak for conservative principles in their community. Electing another Allen West or Ted Cruz isn’t going to change the flow of that tide one bit.

How does that get fixed? Come up with that answer and you’ll probably be famous overnight.

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