Friday, November 9, 2012

The Immigration Trap

Since Romney lost on Tuesday, many Republicans, like Sean Hannity and John Boehner, have been promoting a change in the Republican views on immigration policy to attract more hispanic/latino voters.  Unfortunately, I think this is a trap that will make Republican electoral prospects worse, not better.

Just do the math, there are an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in this country.  Let's say you do what Sean Hannity proposes and give those already here a "path to citizenship".  Now, assume they don't magically become Republicans when they gain their citizenship and 71% vote Democratic like in the last election. That means that we'll have 7.8 million more Democratic votes and only about 3 million Republican ones, a potential gap of 4.8 million (I realize turnout wouldn't be anywhere close to 100%, which is why I used the term "potential").  Considering Romney just lost by 3 million votes, this number is not one to sneeze at and could effectively create a permanent Democratic majority, the exact opposite of what the Republican "path to citizenship" folks are trying to achieve.

Plus, what will stop millions more from coming into this country illegally now that they know they will just have to wait out any reticence from the US government to give them amnesty.  Reagan gave amnesty to 3 million illegal immigrants in 1986 and all we got from that was 11 million more.  Thus, the illegal immigration issue will never go away and trust me, the Democrats will always out-pander the Republicans on this issue. Simply, they know who the newly minted citizens will be voting for.

Also, there is really no evidence that the immigration issue is all that is keeping hispanics from voting Republican.  They have very good reason for voting Democratic en masse as they are the recipients of quite a few government handouts given their relatively low median household income.  Take a look at this chart of median household income by race in 2011 dollars:

As their economic condition is more in-line with that of the African-American community shouldn't their vote be relatively in-line with them too?  Romney won voters who made more than $50k a year and lost those making less than $50k and the average hispanic household is making well under $50k.  Seems pretty simple.  My guess is that Romney ran close to even or better amongst those in the top quintile or two though I have absolutely no data to support this.  By that logic, it would be far more effective to target this group of voters by championing ways to promote economic development in their local communities. Providing them with an easier path to the middle class would be what really can move them into the Republican column.

What about social issues?  There really is no evidence that the hispanic community will vote for "family values" and, if anything, are probably more attracted to the Democrats' socially liberal platform.  The illegitimate birth rate amongst hispanic mothers is 52%, nearly double the 28% we see with caucasian mothers.  That just seems like a population that will be more responsive to pro-abortion rhetoric and free contraception handouts than the opposite.

Hence, I think any switch by the Republicans on immigration/amnesty will make things worse for them, not better.  If the Republicans are really interested in fixing our immigration system, why don't they make legal immigration easier for qualified individuals?  Those with professional degrees and skills we need should not have to go through many hoops to come to this country.  They are the ones most likely to provide an immediate boost to our economy as well as its long term prospects.  They will find jobs the quickest and be the least likely to go on government assistance.  Don't we want more of those?

I'm sure some of you are thinking "so what should the Republicans do then?"  Well, how about for starters, next time there is a primary battle, don't run a scorched Earth campaign against the other candidates like Romney did.  With the help of the GOP establishment media, he was effectively able to eviscerate all the other candidates.  The bad blood in the party was really bad and obviously quite a few Republican voters decided to stay home because of it.  Even I had said "Screw the GOP" at one point.  I came back and loyally fought for Romney but obviously many didn't.  If it was a fair battle based on ideas, you wouldn't have seen that.  Instead you had Romney carpet bomb the airwaves with attacks about Newt's consulting business and laughable accusations that Newt was too liberal (a huge laugh coming from Romney).  And you even had the GOP establishment media (e.g. Fox News, National Review) obviously coordinate attacks effectively doing for Romney what the MSM does for Obama.  One last thing on this topic. What was up with Sarah Palin not speaking at the convention?  She's a rockstar with the base.  If she spoke and passionately supported Romney, I bet that would have helped heal some wounds.

Something else that would have been nice would have been to actually provide good ideas of how you will be different from Obama. Romney ran as a Democrat-lite or as what used to be called an 80%-er (a term for Republicans who generally believed in what the Democrats believed, just 80% of it).  This immigration argument seems to say that Romney was too conservative (!!!) and that we need to have a candidate who is even more moderate.  In the final months he was as moderate as they come.  There was no distance between him and the President at the third debate, they practically agreed on everything and there was no mention of how the President left Americans to die in Benghazi despite their 7-hour long pleas for help.  A viable tax plan would also have been nice.  I never wrote to defend it because I always knew it was a hunk of garbage since the primaries.  Why would I favor a program that might increase my taxes?  I don't give a rat's ass what the official tax rate is, I only care what my effective tax rate is and it was unclear for many that their taxes would be reduced by this plan.  Finally, the Democrats had a whole message about a fictitious "war on women", why didn't the GOP have a message focusing on the very real "war on Catholics"?  Or something? 

During this election season, Romney seemed to get everything backward.  He eviscerated his fellow Republicans then treated Obama like a gentleman, one who he agreed with on much but just differed on style.  Our next candidate for President not doing that would be a great start towards retaking the White House.

1 comment:

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