Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Hispanic Voters, Immigration and the Republican Party

The Hard Right and Extreme Left both need to give way to the Sober Center

Two of the most miserable groups on the American political scene, especially in my beloved California, are Republicans on the one hand and Hispanic immigrants on the other; Republicans because in spite of the Tea Party wave sweeping the nation they face nearly insurmountable challenges (bordering on impotence and irrelevancy in California), and Hispanic immigrants because they can’t get their legal status normalized despite the power of their supposed friends in Washington DC. Caught in the crossfire are Hispanic American citizen voters and libertarian-minded Republicans who want the Tea Party movement to succeed in rolling back bloated government, ObamaCare, public employee union privileges and the rest, but favor a (classical-) liberal free-market approach to immigration policy.
There can be little room for compromise on restoring limited, constitutional government, low taxes, sane regulation, fiscal responsibility and with them renewed job growth and economic strength. But the immigration issue is one where the extremes must be reined in towards the center, for their own good and for the good of the country.
To the Republicans it must be repeated: There are 20 million Hispanic voters (US citizens, not talking about illegal aliens) in the US, and Hispanics are the single fastest-growing sector of the population, up 43 percent in the last decade. Republicans can’t win elections without gaining the hearts and minds of a substantial percentage of this diverse population. They will continue to fail if they appear hostile to Hispanic voters’ cousins.
Even so, to the undocumented immigrant population it must be told: You won’t succeed without Republican support at the national level. Notice that you got nowhere – and late – with Democrats when they had all the power in 2009 and 2010. Fortunately the most compelling arguments in favor of legal normalization are those that spring from the principles of free markets, limited government, individual responsibility, work ethic, familiy values, free trade and capitalism. These are (or should be) guiding principles of the Republican party. If you can embrace these and discard the false promises of socialistic welfare policies offered by the Democrats (the effects of which after all are what you fled from in Latin America) then you will find allies and solutions.
Unfortunately, much of the self-appointed political activist immigration reform movement elite are out for power for themselves first and tend to lean hard Left. For that reason, Republicans must make their appeals and outreach directly to the people at large rather than wasting too much effort trying to make nice with adversarial power brokers.

The Obama-Reid-Pelosi administration may have blundered fatally by ramming the government takeover of healthcare down the throats of the American people before they (the Democrats) had shored up support of the Hispanic voting bloc. Imagine if they had poured half as much energy into pushing the Dream Act or some other sweeping immigration reform in 2009. After the smoke from that battle had cleared, unlike healthcare the political body count likely would have emerged as a net gain for Democrats, who would then still have ammunition to spare to pass ObamaCare in 2010 with greater support left over for its defense in the aftermath. Instead they gave the flesh-and-blood people they had shed so many crocodile tears for the short stick while pouring all of their energy into a largely abstract goal of comprehensive health care ‘reform’ first. They ticked off not only their enemies but also their supposed friends.
This is a blunder upon which Republicans can and must capitalize. The Republican share of the Hispanic vote rose again in 2010 to 38% (in congressional races) from its low of ~20% in 2008. The question is whether Republicans can maintain the momentum or if they will do what they have been too good at in the past, which is to alienate people with emotional rants foaming at the mouth against illegal aliens, providing ample fuel for the Democat-Academia-Media machine to exploit.
Republicans opposed to compromise on immigration restrictions, border enforcement, amnesty etc. need to consider priorities. This country has serious problems, which were NOT caused by immigrants. Cap and Tax, Card Check, profligate ‘stimulus’ waste, too-big-to-fail bailouts, public employee union Ponzi-scheme pension liabilities and out-of-control administrative agencies like the EPA are greater threats than gardeners and house cleaners. The violence associated with narcotraffic is not an immigration issue; it is the radioactive fallout of the prohibition of substances that Americans demand and support with their dollars at a rate three times greater per capita than the nearest rival country. ObamaCare threatens to fundamentally alter the relationship between the federal government and the citizen in ways not seen since the Constitution was ratified.
These are the priority battles that must be fought without taking prisoners. Immigration calls for moderation and a sober, dispassionate look at the economic and social impact.