Horowitz: It's Time for a GOP Establishment Mea Culpa on Immigration
Imagine if Republicans had responded to the push for Obamacare in 2009 by embracing the need for “comprehensive health care reform” while acceding to all Democrat premises concerning the foundations of health care policy. Ponder for a moment where we would be politically if Republicans had spent the past five years promoting Obamacare and targeting the GOP's own members with millions of dollars’ worth of ads beckoning conservatives to support Obama’s signature legislation. Well, that is exactly what Republicans have done with the immigration debate.
Immediately following Mitt Romney’s defeat in 2012, the entire GOP consultant class fabricated a narrative that the biggest contributing factor to the loss was Romney’s utterance of the word “self-deport” in one of the endless obscure debates during the Republican primaries. Tantamount to the global warming debate in Congress, this issue in electoral politics became what every Republican consultant warned potential candidates about. They argued that if they declined to immediately embrace Obama’s comprehensive open borders policies, Republicans would be doomed forever.
Much like the ubiquitous belief in global warming last decade among the societal elite, the group-think on the politics of illegal immigration was built upon a number of false premises:
The assumption that Hispanic voters (10% of the electorate) cast their ballot primarily based upon the immigration issue.
The assumption that those Hispanic voters who support Obama on immigration would otherwise support Republicans on other issues.
The assumption that playing follow-the-leader with Obama on immigration would result in making in-roads with some of those mythical voters instead of driving up “gratitude” turnout for Obama even more than before.
The assumption that the other 90% of the electorate doesn’t exist and that fighting against illegal immigration is not a net positive with this share of the electorate.
The assumption that passing amnesty would not lead to the creation of millions of new Democrat voters, all the while disenchanting a number of Republicans, Independents, and Reagan Democrats who oppose open borders.
For those of us who are old enough to remember the 2012 presidential election, Romney never ran on a pro-enforcement platform in any significant way after the primary. While Obama was playing divide and conquer and illegally granting administrative amnesty, Romney refused to even protest or make it a campaign issue. He refused to campaign in blue-collar Ohio towns against the fiscal, social, and security problems with our porous borders and Obama’s dangerous and malfeasant policies. He took the issue off the table and refused to talk about it, much like he did with Obamacare.
When Democrats pushed comprehensive amnesty in 2013, instead of running ads in the states and district of every elected Democrat exposing their dyslexic priorities, Republicans either supported the bill, the premise of the bill, or cowered in a corner and remained silent.
One year later, as we all witness the predictable, and predicted, ill-effects of lawlessness, the sleeping giant of the silent super-majority in immigration politics is too palpable to ignore. According to Gallup, illegal immigration ranks as the top concern for most voters, supplanting the economy and health care as the most important issue.
While illegal immigration is the number one concern for voters, it is the worst issue for Obama; he is polling way underwater at 31-68% on his handling of immigration. A new Reuters/Ipsos poll shows that 70% of Americans believe that illegal immigrants threaten our economy and traditions. In all of these polls, Obama’s standing and views on immigration are horrendous among independents.
The dichotomy between the American people and the political class over the immigration issue could not be starker. Whereas among the political class even Republicans, most of whom live in sheltered areas, are supportive of open borders, among the country class even many Democrats are virulently opposed. They see the deleterious effects in their schools, hospitals, and the criminal justice system. They are scared of the national security threat. And they want it stopped.
Sadly, most GOP conservatives live and die by polls instead of following the right policies, but in the case of immigration they can straddle both. Public opposition to open borders is at least as potent as opposition to Obamacare. Imagine what the polls would look like if Republicans actually embraced the conservative position on this issue and went on offense. Imagine if every Republican candidate in a contentious general election would run ads against Democrats who have voted to give health care to illegals while veterans are waiting in line?
It’s time for Republicans to stop running the ball in their own end-zone for the Democrats. It’s time for the GOP establishment to do a mea culpa on the immigration issue and stand for Americans first.