What went wrong in 2012? Immigration

Every generation, America’s political parties realign.  It is the natural order of things.  The coalition built by Ronald Reagan that combined the Goldwater conservatives with Falwell’s Moral Majority as well as Americans looking for a stronger leader in the face of the Soviet Union, is now fractured. 

In the past, I have declared the coalition dead, which was unfair.  The base of the coalition stands strong, but with the fall of the Soviets, twenty more years of abortion, skyrocketing debt and importantly – major changes in demographics, the coalition is fractured and leaking support.  But there are certain ways to mend or rebuild the Reagan coalition.

The modern Republican party consists mainly of economic conservatives, social conservatives and foreign policy conservatives that tend to be more neo-conservative on foreign affairs.

These three legs make up the coalition and will continue to do so.  But after losing the Congress in 2006 and two presidential elections, it is time for us to look introspectively.  We must determine why we are holding most of the state houses of government along with Congress, without being able to build national or statewide coalitions.  In fact, if we don’t rearrange our priorities, then we may end up losing more and more at the local level.

Thus, there are three major cracks in the way Republicans are doing business that need immediate attention.  Today, I’ll discuss the first.

This one is obvious – republicans have to split the Latino vote with d’s.  They have to.  Latino’s are the fastest growing racial demographic in America.  These people have values that reflect republican values.  They work hard, they save, they dream, they go to Church and they look after family.  Most Hispanics in this country aren’t looking for a handout.  We have to reach out to these Hispanic voters in a big way. 

And let me tell you, nominating Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio isn’t going to do it.  John McCain was the harbinger of immigration reform yet only 31% of Hispanics voted for him while Obama, with no effort to reach out to this group, garnered 67% of their support.  That is more than two to one.  GWB received 44% of the Hispanic vote in 2004.  That would have been enough to put Romney over this year, with his 27% vote.

Think about what we’re seeing.  In 2004, almost half of Hispanics voted Republican.  In 2008, almost a third of Hispanics voted Republican.  In 2012, hardly one quarter of Hispanics voted Republican.  And it gets worse, because the number of Hispanic voters is increasing all of the time; so it isn’t just that we are getting a smaller and smaller piece of the pie, it is that we are getting smaller slices of a growing pie. 

We are bleeding on this.  Whether we pass immigration reform or not, a great many Hispanic people are here legally.  The ones that are here illegally, have children that our becoming voting citizens.  The math doesn’t favor us.  It’s fine if you are philosophically against “amnesty.”  But practically these people are here to stay and there is nothing we can do to stop it.  Pragmatically, we can’t ever hope to win another national election without coming close to splitting the Hispanic vote. 

Do we think Christie, Pence, Rubio, Ryan, McDonnell, Brownback, Daniels, Perry, Santorum, Huntsman, Walker or (Rand) Paul is going to be able to win in 2016 when we only receive one fifth of Hispanic support?  The numbers simply aren’t there.  We can’t afford to have another primary wherein our frontrunners try to show how tough they all are on illegal immigration.  Who cares?  Does immigration hurt the economy?  Does it kill babies?  Does it spread terrorism?  Does it force our government to borrow money?  Of course not.  So who cares if we have to provide a different legal status to our neighbors to accomplish the goals of our cause. 

Mitt Romney tacked to the right of Rick Perry this summer and it cost him the Presidency.  Romney could etch-a-sketch himself with conservatives, but Hispanic voters weren’t his stooge.    

Democrats seem ready to finally tackle immigration reform.  Republicans are going to have to figure out a way to support immigration reform without allowing the Democrats to be the sole electoral beneficiaries and believe me, under a democrat president giving a speech in the Rose Garden, it’ll be hard.  It is a difficult task because everyone knows that republicans squandered their opportunity and it is now the democrats turn.  But we can’t allow them to seize this moment. 

If I was John Boehner, I’d put out an immigration reform package on January 1st called, “The Republican Immigration Citizenship plan” and hammer it home.  And do my best to cut out the legs from under any zany Congressmen that opposes it. 

This is a John F. Kennedy moment.  Kennedy called MLK Jr.’s wife when he was jailed in Alabama.  That was all it took, and black leaders turned on the party of Lincoln for three generations.  Democrats captured the hearts of black Americans.  Now is our chance to capture the hearts and dreams of Hispanics. 

And let me say this.  This isn’t a time for compromise.  We need to give away everything.  Forget the wall.  Forget amnesty.  Make illegal immigrants from Mexico citizens in 2013.  That should be the Boehner/Cantor/Ryan plan for 2013. 

If we don’t alienate these voters, then they will continue to be like white voters who don’t vote in a block.  But as it stands, we are creating a demographic like black voters who vote en masse against us. 

The first step in mending our fractured Republican coalition is providing a path to citizenship for the people that live here and contribute but don’t have citizenship.  This is the path to taking back the Senate in two years and holding the House.