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July 12, 2013 9:43 AM Day Late, Dollar Short

By Ed Kilgore

There’s nothing quite so sad as an elite opinion-leader who discovers he’s way, way behind the curve. That seems to have happened to David Brooks today, who looked up and discovered the Republican Party to which he is more or less affiliated has gone from believing it has to help enact an immigration reform bill lest it die as a political party to gleefully and systematically blowing up every possible avenue to the enactment of a bill. Even his old boss and buddy Bill Kristol has joined the crazy train.

So Brooks plods his way through the conservative arguments against comprehensive immigration reform and rebuts them, as though a bit more data is all GOPers need to see the light and reverse course before it’s too late.

Here’s my favorite:

The final conservative point of opposition is a political one. Republicans should not try to win back lower-middle-class voters with immigration reform; they should do it with a working-class agenda.
This argument would be slightly plausible if Republicans had even a hint of such an agenda, but they don’t. Even then it would fail. Before Asians, Hispanics and all the other groups can be won with economic plans, they need to feel respected and understood by the G.O.P. They need to feel that Republicans respect their ethnic and cultural identity. If Republicans reject immigration reform, that will be a giant sign of disrespect, and nothing else Republicans say will even be heard.

Poor David doesn’t seem to get it that the “working class agenda” argument is being wielded by those who are arguing the GOP doesn’t really need Asian and Hispanic voters, but instead can bring back the “missing white voters” it lost in 2012. And actually, a lot of these advocates aren’t bothering with any “working class agenda” because they are convinced the same old right-wing message, raised to a high-pitched chattering whine with none of that stupid RINO punch-pulling, will do the trick just fine.

Did I just say “high-pitch chattering whine,” thinking of an engine revved to an insane and unsustainable level? David has a different noise metaphor:

Whether this bill passes or not, this country is heading toward a multiethnic future. Republicans can either shape that future in a conservative direction or, as I’ve tried to argue, they can become the receding roar of a white America that is never coming back.

Good one, Mr. Brooks. But the Republican Party ain’t buying it.

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.

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