Friday, April 07, 2006

The Folly of the Neo-Southern Strategy

I haven't talked much about the whole immigration who-ha. I'll sum up my views by saying, yes, we need to beef up enforcement to keep tabs on illegal immigration, and yes, we need to find ways to make those 12 million who are here already on the path towards citizenship. I'm against the House proposal, but for the President's proposal of guest workers.

With that said, I think the GOP should tread carefully on this issue because it could cost them votes. I think they are giving some red meat to the conservative base that is very isolationist at the expense of Hispanic votes. I don't think they will listen to me, though.

It's no big surprise that Hispanics are the fastest growing ethnic group. Unlike African Americans, they are not solid voting bloc, but the GOP is doing their best to drive the Latin vote to the open arms of the Democrats.

Joe Gandleman reported a few days ago that the current immigrant-bashing could have some ill effects for the Grand Old Party. He cites a Wall Street Journal op-ed by former GOP chairman Ed Gillespie who warns:

The Republican Party cannot become an anti-immigration party. Our majority already rests too heavily on white voters, given that current demographic voting percentages will not allow us to hold our majority in the future. Between 2000 and 2004, President Bush increased his support in the Hispanic community by nine percentage points. Had he not, John Kerry would be president today.

Hispanic voting percentages are increasingly decisive in swing states like New Mexico, Nevada, Florida, Colorado and Arkansas. Mishandling the immigration debate today could result in the Republican Party struggling in these states and others in the same way it now does in California. People who come legally to this country with nothing and labor in the most menial ways to get a new start should feel at home in our party. As a rule, they are hardworking, law-abiding, freedom-loving and patriotic Americans.

When Gillespie is talking about California, he talks about the former Governor Pete Wilson's anti-immigrant proposals back in 1994. The net result was that a fair number of Latinos became Democrats and it weakened the state GOP.

I don't think that all Republicans are racists or bigots, but there are some and they are in prominent positions in the party. The GOP did a bad job of reaching out to African Americans which used to give the GOP a substantial numbers of votes, and has driven many gays who were strong on issues like national defense out of the GOP as well. There are some deluded into thinking that the GOP can win with only white, fundamentalist Christian voters. You don't have to believe in the whole "Emerging Democratic Majority" rhetoric by some on the Left that amounts to demographics as destiny to see that this is folly. Fundamentalist Christians might think God will choose who will win Congress in December, but it's voters who will decide who will control our national legislature and when you manage to get a major ethnic group mad at you by saying that you aren't welcome, well, I don't think even God can save you.

If Congress fails to come up with an immigrant-friendly bill, you might see a lot of Latinos vote Democratic in November and the Republicans will have no one to blame but themselves.

1 comment:

Shay said...

Hispanics are only the country's fastest growing group **because about half of them are illegal**. I.e., it has been done through criminal means.

As anyone who has seen 'guest worker' programs operate in other countries, these so-called guests have a very strong habit of staying in the countries for decades.

You fail to consider that the Republican Party may gain a few black votes over this issue (or the Democrats lose black votes, as folks may sit on the fence) which is ticking many black folks off because illegal immigrants undermine black economic opportunity and have led to demographic changes in many black communities. If black folks must follow the law, then there should be no special rights for anyone else.