April 2, 2006
"The Republican Party is Split on Immigration" scream the headlines. We certainly have some disagreement around here. I don't see Democrats providing real leadership here, and I question that a united front is doing them much good.
I have had to face opposition to my views from Thomas Sowell and Victor Davis Hanson. A friend emailed this article with the Subject "Hanson." I thought it was the band. Of course, VDH has written a whole book about adverse effects of rampant illegal immigration and unassimilated Mexican people in has native California.
I have repeatedly made the case for a guest worker program, and said early that it could be packaged as a compromise with stricter security, resulting in a GOP win. I have faced the squeamish task of defending those who broke the law, those who refuse to assimilate, and even the ridiculous marchers who flaunted their ignorance and opposition to this country's ideals.
That's tough work for a law-and-order guy but I think that the economic advantages far outweigh the disadvantages, and that a guest worker program is a step toward a legal, controlled process that recognizes the exigencies of 11 million folks who are, well, here.
A very good point made by the other side was poll numbers showing overwhelming support for enforcement. As blog pragmatist, I have to look toward victory but feel that the support is "a mile wide and an inch thick," and that leadership could show people the benefits and overcome the demagoguery that has plagued this issue.
Bill Kristol seems to back me up in this week's Weekly Standard." In Y is for Yahoo, Kristol indulges in some name calling to a Representative from my state. But he also repeats the truth that the electorate has not been that kind to those who espouse policies that can be thought anti-immigrant.
The leaders of what he calls "THE HOUSE CAUCUS TO RETURN THE REPUBLICAN PARTY TO MINORITY STATUS--also known as the House Immigration Reform Caucus" all happen to be from safe seats. Statewide office holders have to be more moderate.
Dana Rohrabacher has represented a safe GOP seat in Orange County for almost two decades. He's chosen never to run statewide. In California, Republican governor Pete Wilson exploited the immigration issue to help get reelected in 1994, and the voters passed a Republican-backed anti-immigration measure, proposition 187. No Republican candidate except the idiosyncratic Arnold Schwarzenegger has won statewide since.
Adding these examples to Pete Wilson's temporary gains but long term GOP minority in California, I do not see this as an election winner.
The American people are worried about immigration. In a Pew Survey released last week, 52 percent of Americans saw immigration as a burden, while 41 percent said it strengthened the country; 53 percent support sending illegals home, while 40 percent endorsed a path to citizenship. Given the hoopla about illegal immigration, this division is in fact surprisingly close. In any case, it means GOP senators and congressmen--and presidents--have plenty of room to show leadership and to resist demagoguery. Most Republican officeholders know that the political--and moral--cost of turning the GOP into an anti-immigration, Know Nothing party would be very great. It could easily dash Republican hopes of becoming a long-term governing party. How many Republicans will have the courage to stand up and prevent the yahoos from driving the party off a cliff?
UPDATE: An AP/Ipsos poll shows support for guest worker programs.
The survey found 62 percent of Democrats and 52 percent of Republicans favored temporary worker status.
Posted by John Kranz at April 2, 2006 12:13 PM