Monday, June 25, 2007

Last Word on Immigration

As I’ve said before, I don’t speak for Sarah Palin on immigration “issues,” but I do speak for myself on just about anything I want to tackle. I believe there is a fundamental dishonesty, led by Hugh Hewitt, Kevin McCullough, Pat Buchanan, and others, about the immigration reform legislation. The feeding frenzy that’s going on in the nation is destroying the political careers of many of the best conservative elected officials in the country, including Jon Kyl, Saxby Chambliss, Bobby Inglis, and Lindsay Graham. The only people the debacle is helping consist of Democrats like Hillary Clinton, Harry Reid, and Nancy Pelosi. Tomorrow, I’ll return to “mostly Sarah, most of the time.”

As frequent readers of this column know, I have a recurring nightmare: that the Republican Party is about to repeat with Hispanics the terrible mistake we made with Blacks in 1964. In that time, Republican presidential candidate Barry Goldwater and a few other significant Republicans opposed Lyndon Johnson’s Civil Right Act, which outlawed many forms of discrimination against Black Americans.

A key element of the Act outlawed discrimination against Blacks by commercial businesses. In a practical sense, Blacks could not be turned away from restaurants and similar businesses because of their color.

Goldwater opposed the legislation. He did so on the grounds that business owners should have the right to determine who could patronize their establishments.

Whatever the merits of Goldwater’s argument, the political results were disastrous. Prior to 1964, Republicans had done fairly well with Black voters, whose support for the GOP reflected the legacy of Lincoln, the man most responsible for Emancipating the slaves.

In 1960, Richard Nixon got one-third of the Black vote. But beginning with Goldwater campaign of 1964, Blacks deserted the Republican Party. Nowadays, a Republican candidate for President is lucky if he gets 5%-6% of the Black vote. That’s one of the main reasons Republicans have such a difficult time competing in Northern and Midwestern states.

Something similar may be happening with Hispanics, the country’s largest – and fastest growing – minority group. Of the 100 million Americans classified as minorities, 45 million are Hispanics. That doesn’t refer to “illegals”; it refers to people who are citizens. (Blacks are the second largest minority group, totaling about 40 million.)

If Hispanics turns against the GOP the way Blacks did, what would that mean? It would indicate that a Republican national candidate would never again carry California, by far the largest state. Moreover, it would mean that states like New Mexico, Arizona, and – sooner rather than later – Colorado, Texas and Florida would become “Blue” states.

At that point, the Republican Party as we know it would become a permanent minority. It would never win the presidency again. It would have small minorities in both Houses of Congress. It would become essentially a non-factor in American politics.

Deporting 12 million – or even 2 million – illegal immigrants wouldn’t change this situation, except for the worse. Much as many members of the Republican “base” dislike the current immigration proposals, there is absolutely no stomach in the nation for deporting large numbers of people.

Is this an unlikely scenario? No, it’s very likely.

That’s why I’m suspicious of people who claim their “principles” are driving their views on immigration. It’s as if the Gadarene swine in the Bible, the ones who plunged off a cliff, claimed their actions were motivated by principle.

As I’ve suggested, the immigration is more about the mathematics of politics than principle. The hatred of “amnesty,” in legislation which does not provide for amnesty, is destroying the Republican Party. Some principle.

Barry Goldwater was wrong – disastrously so – in 1964. His principles put Black people in an awful situation. Imagine a Black family trying to get a hamburger, and the proprietor meets them at the door and says they can’t eat or use the bathroom in his facility. The country decided, correctly, that such a situation was intolerable. In fact, Goldwater should have been ashamed of himself.

Today, most Hispanics don’t believe the pious claims by anti-immigrant forces that they’re standing up for “the rule of law.” In fact, as Sanity102 has pointed out, we are a nation founded by “law-breakers,” people who were violating British law. Also, some of the country’s laws, such as the one designating a Black man or woman as three-fifths of a person were not exactly great moments in legal history.

The law (Dred Scott) saying that it was an obligation to return a runaway slave or the law indicating that it was fine (pre-Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas) to have “separate but equal” schools were abominations. The laws saying that Blacks couldn’t get a cup of coffee at the Greensboro, NC Woolworths were a terrible blotch on the nation’s history.

Many Hispanics believe that many of the areas, especially in the Southwest, that their counterparts are entering illegally were stolen from Mexico. This is one of the “dirty little secrets” of American history – one that doesn’t reflect favorably on our commitment to “the law.”

There’s a great need to discuss immigration issues seriously and honestly, but it probably won’t happen. Instead, we’ll continue to hear the sloganeering and the politics-of-animosity, and that’s more than a shame. It's a disaster.


Sandra Wise said...


Congratulation on this excellent site!

The article on Palin by Fred Barnes really shows why she is a rising star. I'm so happy that we have a woman governor who is a real conservative and poised to move all the way to the Presidency.

She would be a great VP now.

Sanity102 said...

I second Sandra's comment. I'm not sure why I missed this article (perhaps because of all your blog woes?) but this is a great "last word" on illegal immigration.

I think this issue broke a lot of hearts. The taste of racism and intolerance was awful. I know I tried for the longest time to understand where the hatred and blind adherence to the "laws" was coming from.

And if I, a born and bred American who never identified with any of my 5 racial backgrounds couldn't understand this brand of Americanism...I doubt that those who put a hyphen in their name (Black-American, Mexican-American, Japanese-American etc.) could either.

Stephen R. Maloney said...

You both strike me as wonderful people, just great individuals. I know what you mean about the broken hearts. I have been involved in the conservative movement, well, forever. And I really question many things right now. I'm involved in something of a foodfight with "Heartland Patriot," who may be from the heartland but is certainly no "patriot." One of his recent columns indicated that the immigrants from south of the border came from "cesspools." He also said the Supreme Court should revisit the 13th Amendment, presumably to deny citizenship to babies born here of non-American parents. So much for the "pro-life" movement. Frankly, this is the kind of "patriot" that I don't want anywhere near the America I know and love. One reason (among others) that I left TH was the kind of racism and nativism, almost Hitlerian in its hatred, displayed by HP. I mean that very precisely: the Nazis did what they did largely because they believed in the concept of "lesser beings without the law," people with no human worth compared to the Aryans. Violence and murder inevitably followed.

As you both suggest, this is much more than a mere disagreement on an issue. It is a disagreement about whether this will be a decent country or something much less than that. According to the Census Bureau, there are 100 million legal minorities in this country. How many of them are going to vote for a Party reflective of the views of HP? More and more, I believe people like him should form their own tiny party, perhaps modeled after the Ku Klux Klan. Again, thanks so much for commenting.