Skip to comments.Immigration Pits GOP Elites Against Conservative Voters
Posted on 02/14/2005 9:56:21 AM PST by atomic_dog
If a Republican politician is uncommonly good on both economics and social issues, he will probably be terrible on immigration.
Its an unfortunate fact of political life thats taken me some time to get used to, but here it is: If a Republican politician is uncommonly good on both economics and social issues, he will probably be terrible on immigration. Think Dick Armey, Arizona Congressman Jeff Flake and Jack Kemp in his better days. All strong economic and social conservatives; all weak on immigration control.
And thats just conservative Republicans. Moderate to liberal Republicans tend to be even worse. Flakes guest-workers program, one of the pieces of legislation floating around that corresponds fairly closely with the Bush administrations amnesty-light proposal, is co-sponsored by his fellow Arizona Republicans Senator John McCain and Representative Jim Kolbe. While there are many honorable exceptions, the GOP as a whole has been useless, and sometimes pernicious, on immigration.
Yet most rank-and-file Republican voters take a more sensible position. They believe that immigration should be legal and controlled, occurring at a manageable level accompanied by assimilation. They are receptive to immigrants who actually intend to give their allegiance to America, but dont see any need to import poverty, cultural balkanization and sociopolitical fragmentation.
In other words, the GOPs grassroots conservative base approaches immigration with different motives than the cheap-labor lobby, transnational progressives, multiculturalists -- and many of the Republican candidates they end up voting for. This discontinuity between the partys leadership and its voters has only gotten worse under George W. Bush, who has maintained a stubborn infatuation with the idea of offering temporary worker status to millions of illegal aliens and extending that status to an apparently limitless number of willing foreign workers all over the world -- only after their prospective U.S. employers have verified that the jobs theyre being offered are of the kind that Americans just wont do, of course.
There is much that can be said for Karl Roves political acumen. His grassroots turnout strategies in the 2004 campaign certainly paid off. But immigration, an issue Rove seems to mistakenly see as the key to a Hispanic Republican majority, is testing the Architects limits. Republicans with their ears closer to the ground -- and the conservative grassroots -- dont see amnesty and guest workers as winning political issues.
According to a Washington Post report last week, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay distanced himself slightly from the president on immigration reform. DeLays proposal wasnt much better. He would offer illegal aliens guest-worker status, but only if they go home first. It doesnt benefit lawbreakers as much as Bushs version, but many current illegals would probably still see their status regularized after a visit back home and overall it would increase immigration. In the New York Times account, the Republican leader suggests it as a possible modification of the White House proposal.
DeLays arm-twisting tactics may have earned him the nickname the Hammer, but he also has a good read on the House Republican Conference. If he is suggesting compromise, it is a good indication that the Presidents immigration-liberalization plan cannot pass as presently outlined, because it lacks GOP support.
Rush Limbaugh, as attentive to the opinion trends of right-of-center Americans as any commentator, has also spoken of a grassroots revolt against the party establishment on immigration. In late January, he warned that the Presidents approach to the issue jeopardized his initiatives on Social Security and tax reform. Limbaugh went further to contend that porous borders threatened our national sovereignty and the electoral coalition that supports the Republican Party.
The latter point was also made in a National Review cover story at the end of last year, written by David Frum rather than one of the magazines usual immigration restrictionists. There's no issue where the beliefs and interests of the party rank-and-file diverge more radically from the beliefs and interests of the party's leaders, Frum wrote. Immigration for Republicans in 2005 is what crime was for Democrats in 1965 or abortion in 1975: a vulnerable point at which a strong-minded opponent could drive a wedge that would shatter the GOP.
Even voices on the Wall Street Journal editorial page have taken notice. In an Opinion Journal column following Limbaughs volley, John Fund urged measures to address the legitimate concerns of Americans who worry the federal government has completely lost control of the borders. While he mainly criticized serious immigration reforms and downplayed the electoral clout of restrictionists, Fund implicitly acknowledged the gap between the GOPs elites and the voters they need to remain in power.
The immigration debate has become the latest struggle for the soul of the GOP, with the partys majorities potentially hanging in the balance. Time will tell whose lead Republican officeholders decide to follow -- the Hammer or the Architects.
You are so right. This issue will cost the republicans.
This is the one issue that if properly exploited by Democrats could get them the White House back.
Yes. If the leftist Dems think for one minute that NET VOTES CAN BE GAINED by backstabbing their Hispanic vote, THEY WILL DO IT. They will stand for closing the borders, rounding up illegals and sending them back, etc, etc, etc. Big and loud. Mark this ole guy's words -- these communists are so POWER HUNGRY that they WILL DO ANYTHING to get back in the White House.
MONEY QUOTE: "rank-and-file Republican voters take a more sensible position. They believe that immigration should be legal and controlled, occurring at a manageable level accompanied by assimilation. They are receptive to immigrants who actually intend to give their allegiance to America, but dont see any need to import poverty, cultural balkanization and sociopolitical fragmentation."
Well here we go again.
Can I ask just why it is so controversial to ask that we just enforce the laws that we have, let alone make them stricter?
Amen, absolutely, couldn't agree more.
I have a sneaking feeling that open-border, pro-choice McCain will be the GOP nominee in 2008. And it will be a disaster.
sure, the Democratics have no solution to this problem - hell, they don't even see it as a problem, but if future elections are as close as the ones we've recently survived, then the GOP cannot afford to IGNORE this issue.
on a side note: the new FREEPER poll regarding illegal immigration shows that over 3,500 registered FReepers have voted. This shows how popular the FR website is. Could it be that there are some 5000 active FReepers regularly checking in? You bet!
The DUmmbasses are having their pathetic fundraising effort now - and I cannot help but think that they have somewhere between 500 and 1000 active DUmbasses
the last FR fundraising quarter showed 2172 donations (including monthlies).
as of last quarter FR had 22,734 registerd members - but I am sure that many are no longer active FReepers.
That is the truth! I just don't understand the unwillingness of the Party Leaders to see controlled Immigration as a winning issue. IMO there are many on the Left who don't like the current situation any more than those of us do (At least Polls show opposition to Illegals crosses Party Affiliation)
"This will surely cost us votes"
No doubt it will, either from lack of enthusiasm in the base or the emergence of a Third arty candidate who siphons off Rep votes. Again, mystified why this is possible when the solution appears so self evident - Adopt a common sense, adherence to the EXISTING law approach to the problem. IMHO a no brainer.
Good article, I am probably one of the social and economic conservatives this article is targetting, whereas my wife is in the more grassroots category and we fight about this sometimes. Overall I think she is right on the issue.
I forgot to add... Anyone who takes this (reasonable IMHO) line will be demonized as a racist by the MSM, and ignored by the Republican elites.
One thing's certain: This issue, along with gun laws, and abortion, are the turning points for many people. They're all the most difficult issues discussed here on FR.
I think that there's far more risk for the GOP by taking the current line, which is essentially ignoring illegal immigration. That path may lead to lots of folks abandoning the party for some other party, or no party at all.
Oh the despair, we just won an election and we are falling apart? I think not. Sure we have issues we do not walk in lock step like Democrats. As issues boil to the surface they'll be addressed. The sky is not falling, I repeat the sky is not falling, well unless you're a Democrat.
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