Political Animal


November 09, 2012 10:30 AM The “Immigration Sellout”

By Ed Kilgore

It’s really kind of hilarious to watch Republicans working themselves up into the determination to throw the party’s nativists (and nativist sentiments) under the bus as the quickest way to show some interest in expanding the party’s base without raising uncomfortable questions about the rest of conservative ideology. You can almost hear them thinking: “If I cave in and accept comprehensive immigration reform, does that mean I get to keep the Ryan Budget and a ban on abortions and maybe a little war with Iran?”

Trouble is, of course, the elements of the party that made the GOP repudiate Karl Rove’s Latino strategy in the first place haven’t quite been heard from yet in the elite discussion of how quickly their wishes can be discarded. And even before the first bellow of rage is heard from Steve King, here’s ex-Democratic blogger Mickey Kaus:

The entire GOP elite seems to be trying to sell out en masse on immigration. Not only Boehner, but Cantor. And Hannity (who works for pro-amnesty world citizen Rupert Murdoch). Even Krauthammer.
Maybe these people are convinced the larger GOP project can be saved simply by caving on just this one issue. That seems cracked. The bulk of the Hispanic electorate appears to instinctively vote Democratic, and not just because of immigration. Maybe they can be wooed over to the Republican side over the course of decades. But by then there will be another wave of new, instinctively Democratic illegal immigrants (lured by the Boehner Amnesty) for Dems to appeal to. And the idea that the GOPs don’t have to change any of their other ideas if only they appease this one ethnic group (making up 10% of the electorate) is highly questionable, as David Frum has argued. … There were plenty of other reasons why Romney lost. (If he’d gotten McCain’s share of the Latino vote … he still would have lost.)
The larger point is that “Comprehensive Immigration Reform”-which is supposed to be a simultaneous combination of an amnesty plus enforcement measures-is a terrible idea. It’s a terrible idea if it helps the Republican Party win national elections or if it hurts them.

Whatever. The important point here is that conservatives didn’t go down the road they most recently took on immigration policy because they thought it was a guaranteed vote-winner (they had the experience of the California Republican Party to show them otherwise), and they aren’t going to be able to toss it in the nearest trash can in order to boost their Latino vote 10% or so (at best; Mickey’s right that immigration policy is by no means the only problem GOPers have in this demographic). Just wait. There will be a backlash against this “sellout” that will be ugly enough that those proposing it may wish they just hadn’t brought it up publicly.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • T2 on November 09, 2012 10:46 AM:

    Kevin Drum has a good post on this subject this morning. The basic fact is that as long as the Conservative/Republican Party is a de facto racist party, minorities will not be attracted to them. As long as Conservative/Republicans rail against the "takers" and hate the thought of a dime of their tax money going to help less fortunate citizens, minorities will not be attracted to them. But to change either of those issues far enough to make minorities join them, they will lose the white male base, thus dissolving the party. So they won't change, simply because the cannot.

  • c u n d gulag on November 09, 2012 10:47 AM:

    GOP POV:
    Ok, to the Sp*cs...
    But no N*ggers, Jews, Women, or F*gs!
    OR IRISH!!!

  • Mimikatz on November 09, 2012 10:47 AM:

    It isn't just opposition to immigration reform that is the GOP's problem. It is intense dislike for the racism that came to the surface with the Obama election and then reelection campaign. The awful disrespect for the President because he is black. That hurt the GOP not just with African-Americans, but with Latinos, South Asians, East Asians and every other non-white group. David Brooks has one of his rare semi-insightful columns on how Latinos and Asians are actually harder working than most whites, but reject the GOP because they understand that the biggest obstacles to their advancement are predatory economic royalism and that government can create opportunity. But he misses the degree to which GOP racism, which is sanctioned by people like Romney even if they themselves tone it down, is really, really off-putting to non-whites, and a bunch of whites as well. Same with the rhetoric that denies that women can make choices for themselves.

  • Josef K on November 09, 2012 10:51 AM:

    There will be a backlash against this “sellout” that will be ugly enough that those proposing it may wish they just hadn’t brought it up publicly.

    What kind of "backlash" could possible affect the well-heeled hucksters Kaus names? Its not like they'll be hurting for work, income, exposure, or prestige simply because a collection of 40 year-old high school radicals have visions of guillotines in Layfayette Park.

  • kindness on November 09, 2012 10:55 AM:

    Mickey Kaus is a shitty spokesperson for Democrats and apparently an equally shitty one for Republicans.

    That being said, why is anything he said reported by anyone? I could care less what Mickey Kaus thinks.

  • SecularAnimist on November 09, 2012 11:00 AM:

    This blog should be renamed "Republican Animal" since every post is about the Republicans, and what they think, and what they are doing to do.

    Wasn't there another political party involved in the election, though?

    That, like, you know, umm, WON?

    I think their name starts with a "D" ...

  • David in NY on November 09, 2012 11:02 AM:

    Let them remain the GOPC (Grand Old Party of the Confederacy) if they like. Ultimately, that route will be curtains for them, and the sooner the better.

  • AMS on November 09, 2012 11:15 AM:

    They know that they are toast unless they can garner some votes from the groups that repudiated them so soundly in 2012, most especially Latinos.

    But just watch and you will see what their true priorities are. They will compromise on anything EXCEPT raising income tax rates on high earners. That's their bottom line, always.

  • Stetson Kennedy on November 09, 2012 11:19 AM:

    Mickey Kaus is a miserable human being, he may have called himself a dem at some point, but his pro-war stance was always better suited for the GOP. They can have him!

    I am not of the mind that it will take the GOP generations to woo Hispanics, or any other minorities. The "lower taxes, less government" argument (even if it is largely a fallacy) is always going to be attractive to a certain segment of the population, even if they aren't white. Put someone like Marco Rubio out front, push Bush's amnesty plan (which was flawed as hell), and the GOP will appear more moderate to many immigrants.

    The GOP's bigger issue is, how are they going to reconcile the changing cultural landscape with their attachment to evangelicals? Lets face it, their anti-gay, anti-choice, and pro-rape message isn't going to cut it any longer with the larger electorate, but will the Christian Right stand idly by when the GOP walks away from those issues? Remember, IN gov Mitch Daniels was an early odds-on favorite to win the GOP nomination until his call for a truce in the culture wars.

    The xtian right will not go quietly.

  • Rich on November 09, 2012 11:19 AM:

    Tokenism and opportunistioc backtracking haven't helped the party with Jews and Blacks even though they should various ways to build ties (e.g., social conservativism with evangelical Blacks). there is a point where people know that you fundamentally aren't allies and gains can only take place with more sincere, long-term engagement.

  • j on November 09, 2012 11:21 AM:

    Whatever happened to Reince Priebus?
    Has he self deported back to Germany?

  • T2 on November 09, 2012 11:25 AM:

    good point, I've not heard a word from Prince Riebus since Tuesday.

  • toowearyforoutrage on November 09, 2012 11:29 AM:

    Thread goes to CUNDgulag. Just wonder how many people get teh ref so they'd agree with me.

    Proper immigration reform should NOT include amnesty. The bigots have that much right.
    At least, not until the backlog of applicants for LEGAL immigration is cleared.

    Streamline the process for faster citizenship/green cards. Progressively fine illegal employers until hiring illegals is far more costly than hiring legal employees.

    When the labor pool dries up, the Republican establishment will SCREAM for relaxation of the absurdly low quotas of immigrants.

    Immigration reform should be a LIBERAL cause. Letting immigrants come her to work without legal protection is NOT being compassionate. It undermines working wages and allows employers to abuse their staff with impunity.

    All the bluster about building walls is a smokescreen to avoid the most potent weapon against illegal immigration: illegal employment enforcement.

    Foreigners that cross our borders without a green card or citizenship have a name: tourists. They come here, enjoy our food, sights and hospitality, then they go home. You want to work here? Get in line. All Obama needs to do is make getting in line a sensible choice. Right now, it's no surprise that playing by the rules is a sucker's game. Make following the rules the path of least resistance and everyone wins except the plutocracy.

  • howie on November 09, 2012 11:30 AM:

    Kaus stopped being a Dem about 1994 and stopped being an important blogger about 2002. Can we stop calling him Democratic presently, formerly, or at all.

    We didn't call Reagan a former Dem every time his name was mentioned.

  • Aaron Morrow on November 09, 2012 11:34 AM:

    Mickey Kaus can't even speak on this subject for two paragraphs without reminding us he is Mickey Kaus.

    Someday, if we ask very nice, maybe Ed Kilgore will tell us Whatever Happened to the Bull Moose.

  • slojoe on November 09, 2012 11:41 AM:

    For TeaParty types the nativist appeal is foundational. Read their publications. Immigrant labor is an 'invasion of criminals', 'vagrant savages' that rob the taxpayer, take our jobs and steal elections. I'm waiting for somebody to ask Dick Armey what he thinks of immigration reform now.

  • Ronald on November 09, 2012 11:42 AM:

    as if on cue- tweet from Steve King:
    Obama voters chose dependency over Liberty. Now establishment R's want citizenship for illegals. You can't beat Santa Claus with amnesty"

    The Republicans aren't going to change their tune, since many of them genuinely believe there is nothing wrong with their message or platform to begin with.

    Here's one from Charles Krauthammer:
    "Republicans lost the election not because they advanced a bad argument but because they advanced a good argument not well enough. Romney ran a solid campaign, but he is by nature a Northeastern moderate. He sincerely adopted the new conservatism but still spoke it as a second language."

    He believes that:
    "The principal reason they (Hispanics) go Democratic is the issue of illegal immigrants"
    and that they "should be a natural Republican constituency: striving immigrant community, religious, Catholic, family-oriented and socially conservative (on abortion, for example)."

    So again, we're back already to the message is sound, Republicans just need to 'sell' their vision better...

    *shakes head*

    It is sad because it means that we _still_ won't have Republican party that will accept facts and reality and work towards comprehensive solutions to these problems but, rather, will continue to stick their heads up their collective butts and insist they're smelling roses.

  • DRF on November 09, 2012 1:58 PM:

    Ed should lose the snide attitude on this. After months of commentators and pundits stating that the single biggest reason the GOP was losing the Hispanic vote was its position on immigration, it's inconsistent to now say that won't be enough. I suspect that this reversal of position on immigration reform, if followed through on by the Republicans in Congress, will in fact peel off some significant portion of the Hispanic vote. In the Bush era, Rove and the other GOP strategists thought that the Hispanic population in the U.S. was naturally more inclined to the Republican Party than the Democratic policy because of their Catholicism, relative conservativism on social issues and their economic concerns. If that's correct then this shift in policy position will likely broaden the GOP base.

    I can see the Republicans passing in the House an immigration reform bill that has broad bipartisan appeal, except they will attach some unrelated portions that are anathema to Democrats. When Harry Reid and the Domocrats kill the bill in the Senate, the Republicans will attack Democrats as killing immigration reform.

  • Rick Massimo on November 09, 2012 3:31 PM:

    I think they're forgetting that their throw-em-out stance on immigration doesn't just hurt them with Latinos.

  • buddy66 on November 09, 2012 3:32 PM:

    I wonder if that Democratic instinct gene in the Hispanic gene pool that Mickey Klaus identifies can be isolated? If so, the nature of one's political orientation can possibly be treated and altered not by proselytizing but by splicing.

    Imagine that: Liberalism as a medical condition!