Friday, May 11, 2007

GOP Senators were for immigration reform before they were against it

Jonathan Singer:

Despite the fact that the Republicans' nativist language did not save their congressional majorities as some in their ranks expected and that such positions actually hurt the GOP in a number of instances, Republicans in the Senate appear to be drifting even further to the right on immigration -- a position that runs almost completely contrary to current polling.

Who's among the reality deniers? A couple of guys who want to be nominated for president, naturally ...

The cynicism and opportunism of these Republican Senators -- chief among them McCain, Martinez and Brownback -- is quite remarkable even if it were predictable. Each of the three aforementioned Senators, who are walking away from last year's bill, not only voted for it when it came to the floor but were among the bill's six co-sponsors.

Like the science on global warming, like the refusal to believe in evolution, like the need for fools like Alberto Gonzales and Paul Wolfowitz to resign, the truth keeps slapping the GOP in the face but they just don't get it:

This move also carries great potential downsides for the Republicans, who could be on the verge of losing the Hispanic vote for years to come. Hispanic voters, many of whom were repulsed by the GOP's resort to nativist language last cycle, gave Democratic congressional candidates close to 70 percent of their vote, up between 10 and 15 percent from just two years earlier. In the Demember special election in Texas' 23rd congressional district, Democrat Ciro Rodriguez upset Republican incumbent Henry Bonilla in no small part as a result of the support of Hispanic voters.

And it's not just Hispanic voters who could be turned off by GOP antics on immigration reform. As mentioned above, polling quite clearly indicates that the public favors creating an arduous path towards legalization and perhaps even citizenship for those here unlawfully. At the same time, just a very small, however vocal, minority supports mass deportations. So while Republicans in the Senate play games, backing away from their own compromise of just one year ago to placate their extremist base, it's quite clear that both in the short run and the long run they're in for a rude awakening as voters' unhappiness with their shenanigans comes home to roost.

Then again, if the Republicans can succeed in disenfranchising the voting rights of large portions of the population likely to vote against them, then they may well succeed in holding onto power.

I have written previously that "illegal immigration" isn't an issue the Republicans in power are really interested in addressing. The whining about it, however, has reached uncomfortable decibel level out here in "the heartland". I have listened to the GOP's soft suburban base complain about it for years even as they themselves hired undocumented workers to cut their lawns, care for their parents, and clean their offices.

The hatred for Latin people lately and by my observation seems to be reaching an unprecedented level. An inability to comprehend the history of the United States -- a nation that exists in its present form only because of immigration -- as well as another American tradition, racism, lies at the center of the rightward bluster.

Were it not for uncontrolled European immigration, the North American continent (from Mexico to Canada, just to be clear) would be populated with the people indigenous to it -- brown people. Were it not for the slave trade by those same European immigrants, there would likely be millions fewer Africans calling themselves Americans.

And that's exactly the way many of the conservative Europeans would like it to be.

It will never happen. There is nothing anyone can do to stem the surge of people of all races who will come to America for a chance at a better life, legally or not.

Their choices are to keep raging against the tide, or learn a little tolerance.

Don't count on any intellectual breakthroughs from either the Republican base nor those who wish to lead them.

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