Arizona Bill….What would Reagan think?
Who really knows? No one speaks on behalf of the dead. But I think this article by Alfonso Aguilar offers some good food for thought and cautionary advice (read it from the beginning, regarding why Latinos are a potential voting block for Republicans, not Democrats):
Thirty years have elapsed since the Reagan revolution began, but many Republicans seem to have forgotten Reagan’s views. Arizona Republicans’ passage last week of a law that criminalizes undocumented immigrants and allows for the profiling of Latinos is the most recent example of this.
The fact is that, beginning in 2006, a small but loud group of GOP members of Congress, strongly supported by an anti-population-growth restrictionist lobby (when did these folks become conservative?), began a campaign to oppose any effort to reform our immigration system.
Many hard-line conservatives may not have liked President Bush's attempts at immigration reform, but the status quo certainly hasn't been acceptable, either. It is hyperbolic overexaggerated emotionalism that equates 2006 GOP attempts at immigration reform as the equivalent to "amnesty". It's the "all-or-nothing" mentality that refuses to accept a viable, practical, workable solution.
Sadly, many also started using incendiary anti-immigrant rhetoric — which offended most Latino voters.
This contributed significantly to the Republican loss of the House and Senate in 2006.
Power Line claims the reverse is true.
It also contributed to Sen. John McCain, long an unquestioned supporter of immigration reform and a friend of the Latino community, receiving only 31 percent of the Latino vote in the 2008 presidential election. This was 13 percent less than George W. Bush’s Latino support four years earlier.
Even more frustrating was that Republican leaders, most of whom actually support immigration, remained silent — apparently afraid of the anti-immigration advocacy groups.
Needless to say, the appearance of an anti-immigrant “know nothing” faction in the GOP is counterproductive if we consider that the political weight of Latinos keeps growing as their numbers have swelled dramatically.
Today, they are the nation’s largest minority group — 45 million and growing, or almost 10 percent of the electorate.
How can anyone seriously think that the conservative agenda can be advanced and the Republican Party be viable nationally without increased Latino support?
As Michael Medved writes:
With a record number of black candidates seeking Republican nominations in upcoming congressional races, the GOP may finally make progress in facing the most serious menace to its survival: the lack of support from any significant segment of the nonwhite population.
Not all of the 33 African-American contenders will win their primary contests, let alone the general election, but at least a half-dozen of them face promising prospects and could provide new energy for a party that desperately needs to shatter its lily-white image.
There are no Republicans among the present 41 members of the Congressional Black Caucus, or among the 24 members of the Hispanic Caucus -- an absence that reflects the party's woeful performance among minority voters in recent elections and may threaten its very existence.
Consider the historic campaign of 2008, when President Barack Obama bested John McCain by a solid margin of 7.2 percentage points. According to the authoritative exit polls, the vast majority of voters (74 percent) identified themselves as "white," and McCain won a landslide among this segment of the electorate, thrashing Obama by a resounding 12 points (55 percent to 43 percent). This was the same margin that George W. Bush commanded among white voters in his 2000 victory over Al Gore. In fact, because of the larger electorate, McCain's losing effort actually drew 9.5 million more votes overall than Bush's victorious campaign of eight years before.
Why, then, did Bush win the White House while McCain suffered humiliating defeat? The answer is that in eight years the nonwhite portion of electorate soared -- from 19 percent of voters to 26 percent of voters. Among these voters, Obama won by a 4-to-1 margin -- easily wiping out McCain's big advantage among white voters.
For two reasons, these numbers command close attention for anyone concerned about the Republican future.
First, there is no chance that white voters will ever again comprise 74 percent of the electorate. Most projections for 2012 suggest that self-identified whites will comprise 70 percent or, at most, 72 percent of those who cast presidential ballots.
Second, it would be hard for any Republican to improve significantly on McCain's hefty 12-point margin among whites, which means that without an improved showing among Hispanics, blacks and Asians, GOP contenders will lose every time.
The math here is brutal and eye-opening. If Obama in 2012 wins the same percentage of the combined black, Asian and Hispanic vote that he won in 2008 (82 percent), then in order to beat him the GOP candidate would need to win an unimaginable 65 percent of all white voters -- whose numbers include such stalwart Democratic constituencies as gays, atheists, Jews and union members.
The 65 percent threshold represents a far higher percentage than Ronald Reagan won in his landslide against Jimmy Carter in 1980, or even his history-making 49-state re-election-sweep against Walter Mondale in '84.
Since white voters won't comprise larger portions of the electorate in future races, and since no Republican could compile a big enough white majority to win the election on those voters alone, that leaves only one possible path for GOP victory: more competitive performance among Hispanic, African-American and Asian citizens.
Fortunately, recent history demonstrates that such competition is possible. In 2004, the exit polls showed that Bush earned 44 percent of both Latino and Asian voters, and 11 percent of the black vote. This represents a huge advantage over the sorry performance of McCain.
Running against Obama, no Republican could have won a big percentage of the African-American community, but if McCain had merely won the same percentage as Bush four years before, he would have drawn 1.2 million more black votes for the GOP ticket -- an obviously meaningful difference in any close election.
Winning an electoral majority doesn't require capturing, or even splitting, every ethnic group, but no candidate can prevail if he (or she) gets overwhelmed among all nonwhite voters. In this context, the GOP doesn't need to win with each of the 33 black Republicans in current congressional contests, or even with most of them.
But if any of them carry their districts in November, it will help change the GOP image as a whites-only political organization and rejuvenate the once-vibrant party of Lincoln and Reagan that is still struggling against marginalization and irrelevance.
Concluding back to Aguilar:
To those fiercely critical of undocumented immigrants, Reagan once quipped “it makes one wonder about the illegal alien fuss. Are great numbers of our unemployed really victims of the illegal alien invasion, or are those illegal tourists actually doing work our own people won’t do? One thing is certain in this hungry world: No regulation or law should be allowed if it results in crops rotting in the fields for lack of harvesters.”
The time is ripe for Republicans to reclaim the immigration issue and rebuild support in the Latino community.
A true conservative plan would not be the “Obama plan” or “amnesty,” as immigration foes like to label any proposal to effectively deal with the immigration problem.
Our solution would be a market-based immigration plan recognizing that the key to resolving this complex issue is easing the legal flows of the temporary workers our economy needs to keep growing.
It would include a “legalization with a penalty” component, stronger border security and domestic enforcement, and a reinvigorated tradition of patriotic assimilation.
What should give us, as conservatives, peace of mind is that to ask for the Latino vote we don’t have to give up our principles.
On the contrary, we just have to continue defending our traditional conservative values — with which so many immigrants identify — and support a plan that is consistent with our belief in the free market and the rule of law.
Republicans should follow Reagan’s example — and show the leadership and courage needed to build a broad multi-ethnic conservative coalition.
Cross-posted at Flopping Aces
Labels: Illegal Immigration