Immigration and the Republican Base: A Response
John Seiler, an Orange County writer, takes issue, at least in part, with my recent Fox and Hounds post that Republicans need to get behind immigration reform. He argues that even if they do so Latinos will not vote for them, and to support immigration “amnesty” will rile up the Republican base.
He may be right; I have great doubts that the Republican Party can survive at all; we may be one election way from the total disappearance of the Republican Party and American politics becoming a contest between the Obama Democrats and the Clinton Democrats.
To see this future, Mr. Seiler needs only look at his own county, Orange County, once the heartland of the Reagan Revolution, where Republicans are just fading away. And if he wants to find the Republican base, he need only visit the nearest cemetery; that’s where his Republican base is; all that is left of the once mighty Reagan Revolution is elderly white voters nostalgic for a picket fence world of the 1950s that is never coming back.
Two lessons from the past Mr. Seiler might want to consider. For 15 years the Labour Party in Britain suffered defeat upon defeat because its base of old industrial workers was dying out. In 1997, Tony Blair invented “New Labour” to broaden the party beyond its industrial base, and Labour won the next three elections. In 1992, Bill Clinton convinced the Democrats here was no future being the party of “acid and amnesty” (amnesty for draft dodgers, that is), and we know what that led to.
The base is a problem, but not an insurmountable one. Republican voters in 2010 rejected the immigrant bashing campaign of Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner who lost the nomination for governor. And there are plenty of Republican donors who are sick and tired of shoving money down a rat hole trying to elect “base” candidates who have proven they cannot win. Farmers, a vital GOP constituency, want people to pick the crops; business leaders want high skilled employees. This requires immigration reform.
A lot of happy talk that Americans will somehow wake up and turn to Republicans is a bunch of nonsense, and you can ask the Romney pollsters about that. America is now undergoing the greatest transformation in our history into a Scandinavian style socialist economy under President Obama. Rejecting immigration reform, the essential first step in making Republicans relevant again, only hastens that juggernaut.
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