Immigration Reform Won’t Help Reps

Jonathan ChaitMore and more, I find myself feeling like Louise on Bob’s Burgers, “Am I going crazy?!” You may remember back in the lead up to the Iraq War, the McClatchy newspapers were providing excellent coverage of the case for war. And they were finding that most of what the Bush administration was saying was rubbish. But all the big papers—The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post—were publishing what would eventually be shown to be nothing more than White House propaganda. At the time, this made the editors for McClatchy very nervous and eventually, they too fell in line and reported what everyone else was.

I felt that way today after reading Jonathan Chait’s article, Boehner Decides Helping Hillary Win Is Better Than Passing Immigration Reform. We got a whole bunch of this kind of stuff after Obama won re-election in 2012. And even Chait started the article, “At the start of 2013, I really thought immigration reform was going to happen.” Yes he did! Like so many liberal writers, he though and still thinks that Republicans must pass some kind of immigration reform or Latinos will never vote for them.

Scared RepublicansThere is a fundamental problem with this idea that people have about how the Republicans must pass immigration reform to mend their relationship with the Latino community. First, Latinos care about a lot more than immigration. As a group, they are poorer and so they would vote for the Democrats regardless. Second, it is clear that if the Republicans did pass immigration reform, they would do it kicking and screaming. I don’t feel like looking it up, but the failed House bill contained a path to citizenship that was almost two decades long! Now Republicans are even against a bill that would normalize the status of undocumented people with no path to citizenship at all.

The biggest problem, however, is that the Republican Party clearly hates immigrants. They clearly hate Latinos most of all. Even if they did do immigration reform, it would be the only thing they were willing to do. It would be like a husband who beats up his wife. The next day, he brings her flowers and says, “Now that’s over. I never want to hear about it again!” In fact, that’s kind of how the Republicans are to the African American community, “We ended slavery: what more do you want?!”

Chait does note that a bad economy could still get a Republican elected, “Some Republicans have taken seriously the need to reposition the Party so that it can win a presidential election without the benefit of a recession or some other extraordinary circumstance.” The problem is that this is pretty much the case no matter what. If there is an economic downturn in 2016, the Republicans will win the White House. And if there isn’t, they won’t. It really is as simple as that.

The only valid point that Chait makes is that by leaving immigration reform on the table, it remains an issue that freaks like Ted Cruz can use to cudgel more reasonable candidates during the Republican primary. That’s true. But I’m not at all convinced that Ted Cruz is unelectable. People said that Ronald Reagan was unelectable. A lot of liberals were happy when the Republicans nominated him. They thought it would be Barry Goldwater all over again. It wasn’t.

Going forward, the Republican Party will have to do something to appeal to a more diverse country. But that time has not yet come. Mitt “Self Deportation” Romney still got almost half the votes in 2012. The Republican Party will court Latinos exactly when you would think they would: when there is absolutely no choice but to do so. And at that point, they are going to have to do a hell of a lot more than dangle a pathway to citizenship that would make Rube Goldberg proud and requires more years than most working class people have left.

So yes: the Republican Party is vile and stupid. But doing one thing is not going to change that fact. I really don’t see why people like Jonathan Chait keep claiming that it will.

See Also

It’s the Poor, Stupid
Why Should Republicans Support Immigration Reform?

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

0 thoughts on “Immigration Reform Won’t Help Reps

  1. Latin Americans are our salvation from the South. The wealthy (or so imagined), white man’s party simply cannot withstand an influx of millions of poor, non white folks. We can force them to swallow a little bit of poison now or a lot later.

    While I do not believe that the Universe is just, the stars are aligned in the favor of Liberal Americans. The greed and myopia of American conservatives may well be the rope that strangles them. They wanted the cheapest maids, nannies and gardens available in this Hemisphere. They had deduced that their wealthy Ecuadorian lawyer friend voted Republican so all Latinos were just Republicans in waiting. Their elites let in millions of poor people from our South, let the GOP’s ruling class make their own nooses.

    Let them tip their hand with an attempted military coup or emphatic voter suppression. We might finally be able to try them for treason. Even if they win, they will have already lost, we will be another failed state.

    PS, As far as Economic downturns are concerned, I think that conventional wisdom may not prevail in 2016. The reason is because the GOP are the party of austerity in the midst of high unemployment already. If President Obama signs another big bank bailouts, the GOP could win but short of that, real Americans already see a bad labor market.

    The last time a Republican won the Popular Vote during a down economy was 1980 and aside from the "young bucks," Reagan was wise enough to not blame the white unemployed for the high unemployment. In 2016, Americans will see the bad labor market as a given, the question will be how does each party address it. Do you go with the Dems, who throw you a few crumbs, or do you go with the GOP who want you to die in a ditch, in accordance with Ayn Rand’s wishes?

  2. Adding to Colin’s comment, it is well to remember that while Reagan had been considered too extreme to be elected, he came to power during a very, very rough time – maybe worse than 2008. Cruz will not have that advantage.

    On the other hand, the Dems keep screwing their supporters. They promise to bring justice to economic matters and then don’t even try to deliver. The elephants promise to screw poor people, and then they deliver.

    I was an extremely unenthusiastic volunteer for our Canadian ‘leftist’ party in recent elections. I’ll never donate to them again, not even the $10/month I was giving, until they stop disinviting socialists to the party.

    There are many Dem-leaning Americans, I’m sure, similarly disaffected. I was reminded of how important enthusiastic volunteers are. And I’ve heard from lots of left-wing Americans who have said they’ll continue to vote Dem but not donate and not volunteer.

    That could be the opening for wacky Cruz.

    Dr. H: you called us ‘we liberals’ in reply to one of my comments. Keep in mind I’m socialist first, liberal second. Though by now even the mildest reform leftism has fallen right off the American political map, followed closely by Canada now it seems.

  3. @Colin Keesee – There certainly is a weird kind of balancing act in a market based economy where my spending is your income. I don’t think that people appreciate this. If the rich want their wealth to continue to buy them cool new things, they really need to invest in having a relatively equitable economy. Instead, they seem determined to create a neo-feudalism, which will hurt them most of all. What would you rather be: a feudal lord in the 12th century or a middle class bureaucrat today? I believe that there is a correlation between equality and growth. High levels of inequality will stifle growth.

    I think you do not understand my political economy model. I don’t think anyone has found a connection between a bad economy and presidential race outcomes. The issue is the [i]change[/i] in the economy. If the economy is getting better, the party in power wins. If it is getting worse, it loses. This model predicts all elections back through 1980. (This assumes Gore won in 2000, which he did.) Since 1952, only three (based upon the work of Lynn Vavreck) have not gone along with this and that was because the winner changed the subject in the campaign (eg in 1960, Kennedy hammered Nixon–quite unfairly–about falling behind the USSR on nuclear arms). And even in these cases, the elections were all squeakers.

    It is possible that 2016 and then especially 2020 will be different because the demographics are changing so fast and the Republicans seem uninterested in adjusting for them. But I still go with my own very simple model. Look at the unemployment rate for the first 10 months of the election year and I will tell you who will be president. It works amazingly well.

  4. @RJ – I would not say that 1980 was anything close to 2008, but to most people it did [i]feel[/i] really bad. In particular, gas prices were high and unemployment was high. Of course, it was all Fed caused. And for two years under Reagan, it got even worse. And then Volcker lowered interest rates, and it was "morning in America" and everyone loved Reagan even though he hadn’t done anything. (Well, anything good.)

    I keep waiting for the Democratic base to rise up. The Tea Party amazes me, because the Republicans have always been really good to its base. But the Democratic base is [i]so[/i] afraid of the Republicans that they will take just about anything. I have a great hatred of the New Democrats. All my work looking at how economics dictate presidential elections has been done to show that the New Democratic turn to the right on economic issues was totally unnecessary. Both Clinton and Obama would have been elected if they had run as liberals. They didn’t win because they were "moderates." They won because the economy was crashing when both were running. If Dukakis or McGovern had run in 1992, they would have won. Clinton’s economic conservatism had [i]nothing[/i] to do with his victory.

    Sorry about the liberal/socialist thing! The truth is that the terms are inexact. Depending upon the definition, I’m a socialist. I believe that many parts of the economy should be nationalized. And I also think that many parts should remain private. I don’t see any good reason why basic education, healthcare, and banking need to be in private hands. In fact, I think that experience has shown that when done in private markets, they don’t work well. On the other hand, I think food production should probably be more of a free market. If we did that, we might actually have more small farmers. I think government interfering with farming has actually increased the consolidation of farming. I’m also for more controls on keeping some companies artificial small. For example, media companies are far too important to allow oligopolies to form. In general, I’m for a 50/50 split of public/private ownership.

    What bugs me is that in the United States–like every other country ever–we have a mixed system with some public/private partition. Even in totalitarian countries, there are free black markets. So the question for us is not whether we are going to be socialists but only how much we are going to be socialists and [i]how[/i] we are going to be socialists.

    The big problem in the US is that we tend not to socialize the things we should. Like banking. Because there are huge profits, we don’t socialize it (except in the sense that we basically give it free money). At the same time, we constantly have to worry that it will destroy our economy. So we have two sets of interests. One is a small number of people making a huge amount of money. The other is everyone having a fairer and more stable system. We choose the former. It’s madness.

    So I too am a socialist–at least in the way that the Swedes are. But I don’t usually use the word because it [i]is[/i] so poorly defined. And I do believe in capitalism in the sense that I believe in private ownership and that if someone uses my guitar to go play in the subway, then I should get a cut of their take.

    But I don’t want my arguments to be dismissed out of hand just because a word has been vilified. Right now in the US, "liberal" works fine for me. I’ve written before that I would love for the country to get to the point where I start disagreeing with Paul Krugman. But we are a long ways from that, even though I am quite a ways to the left of him.

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