Lead The Way on Immigration
As you might expect, in the wake of last week’s election, I have been witness to a lot of moaning and handwringing. Many of my friends and acquaintances, who lean to the right on most issues, seem inconsolable about the results from the ballot box.
But I prefer to take the attitude I heard from Karl Rove when I met him earlier this year: Stop complaining and do something about it.
At first blush it certainly looks like the Republican Party took a nationwide thumping. The presidential race, at least in the Electoral College, was not as close as most people had predicted. Republicans lost ground in the Senate and the House, and we are left once again with a divided national government. We can only hope that the gridlock of recent years is somehow transformed into actual responsible governing.
But we shouldn’t forget that the U.S. House of Representatives is still firmly in Republican control, and Republicans now hold 30 of 50 governorships throughout the country. The Republican Party is not dead. But the GOP certainly should prick their ears up and see what they can learn from this election.
One thing is clear, at least to me. Republicans have got to get a message out there that appeals to a broader constituency. The demographics of the country are changing, and the Republican Party seems to change only in the opposite direction.
President George W. Bush saw this coming. When he ran for governor of Texas, he not only spoke Spanish, but he captured 40% of the Hispanic vote. That compares to the paltry results the Republican Party now has nationally with the Hispanic vote.
During George W. Bush’s second term he proposed comprehensive immigration reform. His proposal would not round up all illegal residents but would have given those who are productive members of society a path to legally stay here. He would have also secured the borders and hastened deportation of those illegal residents who violated our laws.
For this effort he was shouted down by both the left and the right. The liberals thought he was too tough on illegals; the conservatives thought he was too easy on them. A moderate proposal, which could have gone a long way toward improving the prospects of the Republican Party with the Hispanic vote, thus went nowhere.
Republican leaders have a choice. They can stick their heads in the sand, cry “woe is me,” and hope for a better result next time around. Or they can actually follow George W. Bush’s lead and try to do something to broaden the appeal of the party. I have gone on the record repeatedly with a “path to citizenship." (See http://thetentacle.com/ShowArticle.cfm?mydocid=4464.)
Law abiding immigrants who are working should be provided a way to become legal. It should not be free or easy; and it should respect core American values. We are a nation of immigrants, but those who came a hundred years ago followed the rules, and we should expect the same now.
It is time for Republicans to lead the way, not shrink back in an orgy of self-pity.