Behold the postmodern nature of the Republican Party! On Tuesday, Jonathan Chait wrote, Marco Rubio Won’t Even Consider Path to Citizenship During His Presidency. It was a short article and that headline captures its contents perfectly. What’s more: there is no question but that Chait is right. Rubio said that we shouldn’t even be talking about a path to citizenship for 10 to 12 years. He said it in his book and he said it recently to Sean Hannity. In as much as we know anything, we know that this means exactly what Chait said: Rubio won’t consider a path to citizenship for his presidential term — and then some.
But Rubio’s communications director, Alex Conant, was upset at Chait, claiming, “Your piece about immigration misunderstands his position.” And then Conant goes on to say, “Marco has repeatedly stated — and did so again last night — that he is open to green cards after 10 years and he has outlined a specific idea on how to do that.” In other words, Conant is repeating exactly what Chait wrote. But the Rubio campaign was apparently unhappy that Chait was complaining about it. It’s roughly tribal: you were right on the facts but you don’t understand; it’s Rubio and so therefore it is good!
Chait’s larger point is that Rubio’s position on this matter undercuts his primary selling point. He was supposed to be the guy who would reach out to Latino and Asian American voters with a positive message. But instead, because of criticism he got the moment he took the smallest of steps toward that, he is pushing a line that is in no important way different from Donald Trump’s. Think about that. It shouldn’t be hard, because for at least the last decade, the only real difference between the far right and the “moderate” right has been rhetoric.
There really is a fundamental problem with the Republican Party when it comes to national politics. All the elites stand around hoping for a savior: someone who will come along and not be so absolutely terrifying to anyone but the Republican base. And then, in order to actually win a majority of Republican votes, that candidate has to become terrifying. And I think this is why the national Republican Party seems so much like it is treading water. Eventually, they seem to think, they will luck out and get someone in because the economics are right or the voting machines are wrong or whatever. (Sadly, they are correct to assume this.)
The one thing that is most clear is that the Republican Party is not willing to do anything to reach out to minority voters. It’s actually pretty funny. I wrote about this a lot after their loss in 2012. The attitude — Among the elites! The supposed adults in the party! — was, “All right: we’ll pass immigration reform but that’s it! After we do this one thing for you, we don’t wanna hear anymore whining!” It’s like something I heard from a number of conservatives after same sex marriage became the law of the land, “I wonder what they’ll want next?!” (Perhaps the right not to be fired for being gay?!)
The Republican Party will never be able to “reach out” to Latinos as long as they think of Latinos as people who they have to reach out to. The big problem that the Republicans have is that Latinos tend to be poor. Republicans do not propose policies that will help the poor get ahead. So any “reach out” campaign is doomed anyway. It is just that the obvious hatred that Republicans have for all minority groups doesn’t help. But I don’t think that the Republican elites really care. They are are like Alex Conant: postmodern thinkers who define their own reality.