In an otherwise interesting article, Jonathan Chait wrote, “In the aftermath of the 2012 election, it was obvious to nearly every analyst outside the Republican Party, and to quite a few of those within it, that the GOP needed to get immigration reform off the table to give it a chance with Latino voters. All House leaders had to do in order to accomplish this was to bring up an immigration-reform bill that had passed in the Senate, and it could have passed with just a few dozen Republican votes.” No, no, no! Jesus, how long are people going to believe this hogwash?! Sure, there were and still are analysts who think this. But they couldn’t be more wrong.
Chait continued, “Anger by the base paralyzed them from acting, and they muddled through instead.” I really wonder what people like Chait think political parties are. Do they think that the parties just make up their platforms and then hope that there will be enough voters for them to win elections? Parties are coalitions. For almost 50 years, the Republican Party has managed to wed the “libertarian” part of the party with the racist part. Is that racist part just going to shut up because immigration reform was passed?
This brings us back to Chait, “Not long ago, the prospect of Trump heading the ticket in 2016 was utterly unthinkable. Now it is thinkable…” How is it that the House passing immigration reform would have stopped Trump from gaining so much traction? Indeed, if immigration reform had passed, wouldn’t that have made the base even more angry? Wouldn’t that have made a Trump or Cruz candidacy all that much more appealing? I really don’t get the way that mainstream (usually liberal) pundits see this. It’s like they think that an immigration reform bill — one that was ridiculously harsh, requiring almost two decades to get citizenship — was some kind of magic bullet that would make the Republican Party’s racism problem vanish.
And look at what Chait acknowledges: the Republicans just had to allow the bill to get a vote where only a tiny percentage of Republicans would have voted for it. And it only passed the Senate with a handful of Republican votes. So what would this have said to the Latino community specifically? That the Republican Party doesn’t hate them, just everyone in it?! It’s madness. And it gets worse.
At least by doing nothing, things stay the way they are. But the whole time immigration reform was being debated, it was very clear that even its Republican supporters had the attitude that this was the one thing that they were willing to do for the immigrant community. So the Republicans were offering an incredibly harsh, punitive approach to immigration reform and acting like that was the end of it. It’s like a friend giving a junkie twenty bucks after years of charity, “Okay, but this is the last time I’m doing this!” That’s what the Republicans were offering.
Given the Republicans will not embrace immigrants (legal or otherwise), I do not see how immigration reform helps them. Are we to assume that immigrants are just ignorant? That they wouldn’t know that it was the Democratic Party that somehow got immigration reform passed despite Republicans and not because of them? But regardless of that, how does immigration reform make Trump’s candidacy less plausible?