When you look at the immigration reform bill the Senate recently passed, it seems like a no-brainer for the Republicans to support. The Chamber of Commerce supports it. It has the support of many evangelicals as well. And if the support of such key GOP groups as these weren't enough, the dire electoral implications for the GOP should the House Republicans block it is being made painfully clear by prominent Senate Republicans. It's hard to see who is the bleaker Cassandra for the Republicans, Lindsey Graham:
“If we don’t pass immigration reform , if we don’t get it off the table in a reasonable, practical way, it doesn’t matter who you run in 2016,” Graham warned during on appearance Sunday on NBC’s Meet The Press. “We’re in a demographic death spiral as a party, and the only way we can get back in good graces with the Hispanic community, in my view, is pass comprehensive immigration reform. If you don’t do that, it really doesn’t matter who will run, in my view.”Or John McCain:
TPM asked McCain if Republicans can recover in 2016 if the overhaul falters and if the party nominates a pro-immigration candidate. He took a deep breath and shook his head.
“No,” he said.
Yet immigration reform is facing a very uncertain future in the House. Why is the House GOP proving so reluctant to support a bill that may well decide their party's future electoral fate, especially one that key support groups are backing? As Michael Tomasky in The Daily Beast explored today,, it's that many in the GOP are deciding that maybe Latino support is not needed after all...and that they're taking some very bad advice.
And more disturbingly they’re listening to the likes of Peter Brimelow and Steve Sailer, two crackpot haters of nonwhite immigrants who’ve been at it for a couple of decades now. Now I can’t say for sure of course how many Republicans are reading their unhinged website, where one contributor recently dismissed the Evangelical Immigration Table as “Soros-funded,” an imprecation that in right-wing circles is about as ominous as you get and is meant to be read as “can’t be trusted.” But I can say this: the defeat in the House of immigration reform, on the explicit political grounds that “we” (the GOP) don’t “need” Latinos and can win in the future by just riling up the white vote—which is in fact the argument now—represents a mainstreaming of Brimelow and Sailer that would have been totally unimaginable a decade ago.Indeed, what is happening is that the electoral strategy of forsaking Latinos and other minority voters and instead doubling down on white votes, a strategy previously limited to such GOP racist dinosaurs as Pat Buchanan and Philys Schalafy is not only gaining steam, but becoming predominant among many Republicans. Indeed, one need only look at Mr. Morose himself, Britt Hume and his comments on Sunday to see that this view is gaining lots of traction.
Tomasky had more on this turn of events a few days ago and who may be largely to blame for the GOP falling into this delusion:
Sean Trende, the conservative movement’s heavily asterisked answer to Nate Silver (that is to say, Silver got everything right, and Trende got everything wrong), came out with an analysis this week, headlined “Does GOP Have to Pass Immigration Reform?,” showing that by golly no, it doesn’t. You can jump over there yourself and study all his charts and graphs, but the long and short of it is something like this. Black turnout and Democratic support have both been unusually high in the last two elections, which is true; Democrats have been steadily losing white voters, which is also true; if you move black turnout back down to 2004-ish levels and bump up GOP margins among whites (by what strikes me as a wildly optimistic amount), you reach White Valhalla. Somehow or another, under Trende’s “racial polarization scenario,” it’ll be 2044 before the Democrats again capture 270 electoral votes. Thus is the heat of Schlafly’s rhetoric cooled and given fresh substance via the dispassionate tools of statisticsOf course, Trende's numbers are as dubious as the "unskewed polls" that assured Republicans that Mitt Romney was a lock, but that won't stop Republicans from latching to them and using them as an excuse to pursue this "white is right" electoral strategy. We can already see it in the wake of the Supreme Court's Voting Right's Act decision and, as Tomasky points out, the GOP is already overreaching. Badly.
Why? Just look at what’s already happened since the decision was announced—the party is launching voter-suppression drives in six of the nine freshly liberated states. All the states, of course, are down South. These drives might “work.” But they will attract an enormous amount of negative publicity, and they’ll probably induce massive backlashes and counter-movements. This effort will lead to even greater distrust of the GOP by people of color, and it will reinforce the captive Southern-ness of the party, making it even more Southern than it already is. And Republicans won’t stop, because they can’t stop. Race baiting is their crack pipe.Indeed. They can't. And while it will even quicker ensure the GOP demographic oblivion (and my own personal belief that they are well on their way to becoming the modern day version of the post Civil War Democratic party, confined to the Deep South and not much else), it could get very ugly in the meantime:
And here’s the worst part of this story. If the House Republicans kill immigration reform, and Republican parties across the South double down to keep blacks from voting, then they really will need to jack up the white vote—and especially the old white vote—in a huge way to be competitive in 2016 and beyond. Well, they’re not going to do that by mailing out Lawrence Welk CDs. They’re going to run heavily divisive and racialized campaigns, worse than we’ve ever seen out of Nixon or anyone. Their only hope of victory will be to make a prophet of Trende—that is, reduce the Democrats’ share of the white vote to something in the mid- to low-30 percent range. That probably can’t happen, but there’s only one way it might. Run the most racially inflamed campaign imaginable.Yeah, remember the waning days of the 2008 campaign, where you had those crazies riled up by Palin calling Obama a "terrorist" and a "Muslim" and calling to either kill or hang him? Imagine worse. Far worse.
That’s the near-term future we’re staring at. We can take satisfaction in the fact that it’s bad for them, but unfortunately, it’s not so good for the country
Back to Tomasky's original piece for some concluding words:
What we are watching here is absolutely historic. The process by which the GOP has gone from “we must get right with Latinos” to “who needs ’em” has been ... well, not quite astonishing. Depressingly unsurprising, actually. But amazing all the same. If immigration is killed for the reasons stated, then the Republican Party has consciously made the decision to become a quasi-nationalist party. They’ll probably never sink to the level of a Le Pen or a Haider (I added that “probably” upon re-reading; you never quite know with these people). But they will have killed immigration reform twice in six years, opposing not just the usual suspects like La Raza but America’s top corporate interest groups. And they will have staked out their bet for their future: move right and move white. And this will be the year it all took hold.So, Reince Priebus, how's that Latino outreach going?