The Republican Party presented the Democrats with a lovely gift last week when it backed away from its “principles” for immigration reform less than a week after they were presented.
The Republican House leadership, part of the business-oriented segment of the party that views immigration reform as a jobs and economic growth issue, announced parameters that were heavy on enforcement and light on forgiveness–in other words, nothing that would suggest amnesty.
But even that was too much for the Tea Party wing of the GOP, forcing Speaker John Boehner to abandon the effort with the excuse that President Obama couldn’t be trusted to crack down on illegals entering the country. (Deportations are currently running at an all-time high.)
Boehner and his allies know the biggest opposition they’re likely to face is in their party primaries, and they can see what happened to Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida after he championed the bipartisan immigration bill that passed the Senate.
Rubio aggressively promoted the measure on conservative talk shows and did more than any senator to rally conservative support for the bill. He has since all but abandoned the legislation he helped write.
Rubio’s ratings among Republicans have sunk in national polls, as has his standing among potential 2016 presidential candidates. He backed away from a bill that is unpopular with the GOP base he would need if he ran for President.
“He’s pandering to the far right who roughed him up for being courageous on immigration reform,” said Frank Sharry, who heads America’s Voice, an advocacy group for reform.
The Republicans have become in recent decades the party of angry white guys and the women who love them. But the nation’s white majority is shrinking, from a high of 80 percent to 63 percent now, and projected to bottom out at less than 30 percent in the future.
California, ever the trend setter, is almost there now. The latest U. S. Census statistics show that 39.4 percent of the state’s population is white, followed by Hispanics (38.2 percent), Asians (13.9 percent) and blacks (6.6 percent). How many of these “minorities” are Republicans? Not nearly enough.
Democrats have a super majority in both houses of the state Legislature and control all of the statewide offices. The GOP has yet to field a major candidate for any state office and may not get past the primaries, where the top two vote getters regardless of party advance to the general election.
Ron Nehring, former state GOP party chief, said, “We are two steps away from a nightmare scenario where the statewide ticket appears so weak that some Republicans simply give up and throw in with Jerry Brown, creating chaos for Republicans running in competitive seats around the state.”
Even Tea Party darling Rand Paul has said the party has to become more inclusive if it’s to avoid the GOP’s situation in California, but the base refuses to give ground on immigration or any other issue that repels non-white voters.
“You can’t expect voters to conform to a party; a party has to conform to the voters,” said Garry South, a long-time Democratic Party strategist in the state. “That’s what Republicans don’t get.”
The party of Lincoln is kidding itself if it thinks it can remain viable by building a Berlin Wall across our southern border (“Checkpoint Carlos,” anybody?), and by passing laws that make it more difficult for non-whites to vote.