Here is Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, of South Carolina: “If we don’t pass immigration reform , if we don’t get it off the table in a reasonable, practical way, it doesn’t matter who you run in 2016. We’re in a demographic death spiral as a party, and the only way we can get back in good graces with the Hispanic community, in my view, is pass comprehensive immigration reform. If you don’t do that, it really doesn’t matter who will run, in my view.”
One can, if interested, marvel at the mix of political pragmatism and overt pandering that Graham displays in these comments. The GOP is indeed in trouble demographically, as the United States’ voting public has fewer white males in its ranks. And fewer whites overall. If the Republican Party wants to win national elections again, they would do well to heed the advice of Sen. Graham and bring Hispanic voters to the party.
And yet, these comments also strike me as terribly insulting. Do we really expect the Hispanic voting community to shift its political interests to the Republicans on the heels of an immigration deal that can only pass with bipartisan support? Why does one assume that passing a moderate at best, probably weak, and ultimately disappointing immigration bill (which is what Rubio’s now is) will provide any more political capitol to Republicans than to Democrats or President Obama? It’s not as though Hispanic voters only concern is immigration. In the last election Gallup found that Hispanic voters considered the economy and healthcare greater priorities than immigration. (I recognize that Gallup’s 2012 polling left something to be desired).
Graham, and the GOP, would do well to reconsider the shallowness of this opinion, if the party hopes to return to the “good graces of the Hispanic community.” Still, immigration reform is a good place to start, if you are the GOP. The rhetoric on immigration and illegal immigrants from the GOP has been appalling, and a balm is needed, even if it comes in the form of a meager immigration bill.
Any balm of this kind remains unlikely, until the socially conservative (and Evangelical) element releases its grasp on the Republican party. I don’t know if that’s even possible . But if it does not happen, all of Lindsey Graham’s pleading for “reasonable, practical ways” to pass immigration and retreat from demographic demise are very hard to imagine. Molly Ball writes that party leaders are trying to push this element towards ‘new priorities’ and away from talking points like those just provided to the GOPers by the Faith and Freedom Coalition (“We vehemently oppose amnesty and guaranteed paths to citizenship for illegal immigrants”). There is some evidence that this is taking place, when Sen. Rubio, who authored the immigration bill, attends the Faith and Freedom Conference to argue for his immigration reform.
Hopefully, for the sake of those families without fathers, he’s loud enough to be heard over Sarah Palin and Donald Trump.