A century ago, they could come here legally.
Michael Gerson discusses how Republicans are committing political suicide, attempting to apply the precise same strategy that cost the GOP its political competitiveness in California nationally.
According to a 2008 study by the Pew Hispanic Center, 49 percent of Hispanics said that Democrats had more concern for people of their background; 7 percent believed this was true of Republicans. Since the Arizona controversy, this gap can only have grown. In a matter of months, Hispanic voters in Arizona have gone from being among the most pro-GOP in the nation to being among the most hostile.
Immigration issues are emotional and complex. But this must be recognized for what it is: political suicide. Consider that Hispanics make up 40 percent of the K-12 students in Arizona, 44 percent in Texas, 47 percent in California, 54 percent in New Mexico. Whatever temporary gains Republicans might make feeding resentment of this demographic shift, the party identified with that resentment will eventually be voted into singularity. In a matter of decades, the Republican Party could cease to be a national party.
Even describing this reality invites scorn from those who regard immigration as a matter of principle instead of politics. But this represents a deep misunderstanding of politics itself. In America, political ideals are carried by parties. Republicans who are pro-business and pro-life, support a strong national defense and oppose deficit spending depend on one another to achieve influence. Each of these convictions alienates someone — pro-choice voters, economic liberals, pacifists. But Republican activists who alienate not an issue-group but an influential, growing ethnic group are a threat to every other constituency. The vocal faction of anti-immigrant Republicans is not merely part of a coalition; it will eventually make it impossible for anyone else in that coalition to succeed at the national level.
The good news for Republicans is that Hispanics tend to be entrepreneurial and socially conservative. While the general image Hispanics hold of the GOP is poor, individual Republican candidates can make significant inroads. In presidential elections, Hispanic support can swing widely. In 1996, Bill Clinton got 72 percent of the Hispanic vote. In 2004, John Kerry’s support was in the 50s. And Republicans do not need to win a majority of the Latino vote to compete nationally, just a competitive minority of that vote.
But even this modest goal is impossible if Hispanic voters feel targeted rather than courted.
Meanwhile, J.R. Dunn explains why the unresolved illegal status of immigrant Hispanic labor works so beautifully for the left.
The history of the left in this country is a history of division. Whatever conflict was current — labor vs. management, class vs. class, race vs. race — there you’d find the left, stirring things up in order to derive as much political benefit as possible. A workable democratic system demands a willingness to seek consensus and engage in compromise. The left prefers Balkanization and permanent conflict.
For some years now, it has appeared that the Leftist formula had reached the end of its string. The corrupt and crime-ridden unions were on their last legs, hemorrhaging members even as they drove jobs overseas. Blacks were steadily moving into the middle class and becoming less susceptible to separatist rhetoric. An attempt to transform the university student body into a permanent revolutionary phalanx on the Peronist model had only partial success — students were willing to play while actually on campus, but after graduation they went on to more interesting pursuits.
So how to keep the pot boiling? The answer was to go find a new millet — or rather, to take advantage of the one next door, of the desperate people fleeing a serial kleptocracy, an uneducated, ignorant, and frightened mass open to all forms of manipulation.
This explains why illegal immigration is so important to the left. It explains why efforts to halt illegal border-crossings, a problem that wouldn’t challenge a six-year-old, are executed so half-heartedly and so often left unfinished (see the recent “virtual fence”). It explains the irrational response to Arizona’s effort to tighten up existing immigration law (not create new law — Arizona’s statute is no more than a reinforcement of existing federal law). It explains the insistence that any solution to the immigration problem provide for amnesty and citizenship for the millions of illegals already living within our borders. It has nothing to do with compassion, nothing to do with fairness, or practicality, or any of the other reasons offered by “reform” advocates. As is almost always the case where the American left is involved, what it has to do with is power.
The left wishes to use the illegals as a battering ram against the American polity, the same as they used labor, and blacks, and every other group they ever encountered. Illegals will become a new protected class, with privileges and entitlements denied the rest of the populace (including, ironically, current members of previous such classes). They will be discouraged from learning English, as occurs today under the doctrine of “bilingualism”, to assure that they remain a separate presence. A vast bureaucracy will arise to “assist” the new citizenry, funded with billions — oh hell, make that trillions, this is the Obama era — and staffed with sociologists, ethnographers, psychologists, and other disciplines unimagined today. All will be of the same political persuasion. A permanent crisis atmosphere will be generated around the new class. The “Amnestee” question will lead to endless problems and ramifications and act as a permanent indictment of the country and its policies. The native population (not to mention legal immigrants) will grow increasingly embittered and angered. The former illegals will be rendered even more miserable than they are today.
The solution is obvious. There must be no amnesty. Such an action would simply drop a permanent inassimilable presence in the midst of American society. Current law must be executed to the fullest, and where necessary (as in all the border states) reinforced with new state laws. Illegals now in the country must be encouraged to regularize themselves according to recognized procedure. They must not be allowed, for their sakes and ours, to become clients of the left-wing establishment. The immigrant problem must be dealt with on a case-by-case basis, according to individual circumstances. The notion that there is an acceptable mass solution is pure fantasy.
While this may involve some hardship — and will certainly give rise to cries of “unfairness” — it is in the long run the best solution for all concerned. Even the illegals will be better off. Becoming a member of a left-wing client class may not be the worst possible fate, but it’s not far from the bottom either, as generations of welfare families can attest. American leftists did nothing for this country’s workers once the union vote-getting machines were established. The same can be said of blacks in the inner cities once the political machines were in action there. The goal of power is simply to perpetuate itself. Actually solving problems might interfere with that process.