Is the GOP Doomed to Self-Destruct?
By John D. Turner
18 Jan 2014

There are those in the GOP leadership who seem adamant about pushing an immigration plan that includes tighter enforcement, new, expanded immigration quotas, and, effectively, amnesty for the more than 12 million people here within our borders illegally already.

Not that US immigration policy isn’t in need of reform; a “system” whereby people trying to get into the country legally wait 10-15 years to get here while those who don’t have such scruples have already been here illegally that long when they finally arrive makes very little sense. But then again, it isn’t so much a system that addresses the needs of the country economically as it is a system that instead is a mainstay of party political power.

If you are a Democrat, you have to love the quandary in which this has put the Republican Party.

Mention illegal immigrants and the first thought that enters the brain of most Americans is “Mexicans.” If you are a little more sophisticated, you may think “Hispanics” instead, but dollars to doughnuts, one of the two will be the first thing that springs to mind. Not that all illegals fit neatly into these categories however; there are people from all over the world illegally crossing our borders (mostly the southern one) and entering the country illegally. Not only that, but an untold number come here legally (usually on student or work visas) and, for one reason or another, simply never leave.

Of course, the vast majority are from Mexico. A Pew Hispanic Center report in 2005 showed that 56% were from Mexico, 22% from other Latin American (mostly Central American) countries, 13% from Asia, 6% from Europe and Canada, and 3% from Africa and the rest of the world. Current data supports this. Thus, the majority of the illegal immigrants in this country are, at least nominally, “Hispanic”, if one defines “Hispanic” as being from a country with a Latin American background.

However you look at it, the majority of those entering the country illegally, as well as the majority of those already here illegally, are Hispanic. And coincidently, the fastest growing segment of American society these days is the Hispanic population, both legal and illegal. And once again, coincidently, the majority of Hispanics who vote, vote Democrat.

In fact, party affiliation statistics among Hispanics shows that 51% are registered Democrats, 31% are Independents, and only 18% are registered Republicans. This contrasts sharply with their ideological makeup, which shows that 54% of Hispanics consider themselves conservative vs. only 39% that consider themselves liberal.

Democrats see Hispanics as an ever-growing mainstay of their political power base. Republican leadership is terrified that this will prove to be the case, hence their attempts to pass an immigration reform package in the House despite the path to citizenship poison pill objected to vociferously by their base.

For Democrats this is a win-win. If they lose on this issue, they can go to their Hispanic constituents and tell them how they are trying very hard to help, but the dastardly Republicans are blocking their efforts because they hate Hispanics. Democrats always frame opposition to any issue as “hating” someone. If they win, then they can tell those same constituents that the victory was all due to them; how they overcame immense odds and were ultimately able to defeat those dastardly Republicans who hate Hispanics. If the narrative sounds the same, that’s because it is. The message “works” for Democrats no matter which way things turn out.

For Republicans it is a lose-lose. If those in the House trying to pass the legislation ultimately succeed, they lose, because those in their base who are opposed will undoubtedly attempt to primary those seeking reelection in 2016, and if unsuccessful in those attempts, may well sit out the actual election itself. The Republicans could not only fail to take the Senate, despite the unpopularity of the sitting President and his policies, but might well lose the House to boot. If they fail they lose as well. Those supporting the legislation might still face the scenario described above, and at the very least will provide much political fodder for the Democrats to carry into the coming election cycle.

And ironically, the object of the Republican’s division, the Hispanic population, will still be unlikely to support Republicans in any great number, even if the legislation is passed; certainly not in numbers great enough to offset the erosion of their base. Why? Because the reason Hispanics don’t vote Republican isn’t because of ideology; if it was, you wouldn’t see the contradictory statistics I stated above; Hispanics would be voting Republican and the Democrats would be trying to block immigration reform. Let me illustrate the point with two stories.

We have homeschooled our children most of the time, however some of our kids did attend public school for a few years. My oldest son attended public school for a couple years in grade school. During one of his social sciences tests, he was presented with two questions. The first was “the Democratic party is the party of .” The second was “the Republican party is the party of .” Both were multiple choice questions. The “correct” answer to the first question was “the people.” The “correct” answer to the second was “the rich.” Here in San Antonio, the majority population is Hispanic. And the answer to those questions is inculcated at an early age.

The second story is one we heard from a friend. Our church is different from many in that you don’t attend services when and where you please. Where you live geographically determines the building you will go to and the “congregation” (ward) you will attend. These lines are very definite; moving across the street can, in the proper location, move you from one ward to another.

The husband of this friend was in the Army and lived near us. After a year or so, he was able to obtain base housing, necessitating a move. This move meant that they would no longer be in our ward, and the geographic location was such that they ended up in a primarily Hispanic, primarily Spanish speaking ward. And, one of the things she noticed, it being an election year, was that most of the folks there were supporting Democratic candidates. So she asked one of her Hispanic friends how it was that they were voting Democrat, when so many of the positions held by Democratic candidates were diametrically opposed to the ideological positions they believed in, which were much more in line with positions held by Republicans. “But Hermana,” she replied, “we are poor; we have to vote Democrat!”

And there you have it. The Republican Party is the party of the rich; the Democratic Party, the party of the people, ergo, the poor. You may be against abortion. You may not support gay marriage. You may align with conservatives on any number of issues. But if you are Hispanic and you are poor, you vote Democrat.

And that is why Republicans are not likely to make any significant inroads with the Hispanic population no matter what their stand on immigration. They need to find an entirely different approach. Going toe to toe with the Democrats in playing the giveaway game to buy votes is a non-starter. They can’t out Democrat the Democrats; being Democrat-lite is a sure recipe for disaster. Not only will their base not stand for it, but Hispanics won’t buy it either; why vote for the ersatz when you can have the genuine bean?

They need to convince Hispanics that voting Democrat is not in their economic interests; right now, they think it is. At the same time they need to not make things worse for themselves by alienating their base, who is becoming more convinced every day that the Republicans, with a few notable exceptions, really are Democrat-lite. Who are seeing the “fundamental transformation” of America that Barack Obama promised happening right before their very eyes and are recoiling in horror at what our nation is becoming. Who believe they are witnessing the end of the democratic republic they knew and the beginning of a new socialist democracy at best, possibly a fascist dictatorship at worst.

So what happens if the bill that was passed in the Senate is also passed in the House and signed into law by the President? Will we get increased enforcement? That would be the linchpin Republicans would hang their acquiescence to the path to citizenship for illegals on; the quid pro quo. Well, it would become law, just like the hundreds of miles of border fence that are also supposed to be built. And like those miles of border fence, the law would sit there on the books, unenforced.

Meanwhile, millions of people here illegally will be rewarded for their actions while millions others, still awaiting legal entry, will wonder why they too should not simply wade across the Rio Grande.

And the Republicans will still be reviled, and Hispanics will continue to vote Democrat.