Immigration and the Republicans’ impending defeat: a national tragedy

The current balance in the House of Representatives is 229 Republicans to 201 Democrats, a gap of 28 seats. If the Democrats pick up 15 seats from the Republicans, they will control the House. Very few pundits are predicting that the Republicans will hold the Democrats to a 14 point gain. At the Weekly Standard, 15 out of 16 contributors say the Democrats will win the House. Powerline is projecting a minimum 20 point gain for the Democrats.

A friend said the other day that the impending loss is due to the immigration issue. Why, I said. Answer: because conservatives care a lot about immigration control, and the Republicans have not been running on that issue.

If this is the case (and it is backed up below), then we are looking at a tragedy of the first order.

I have been arguing since last spring (see this and this) that the House GOP needed to do two things: to stand like a stone wall against the “comprehensive” immigration bill S. 2611 (passed by the Senate on May 25), and to advertise to the world the fact that they had done so, making it the principal reason to vote for them in November. I said that the first step was needed to stop the bill, and that both steps were needed for the GOP to win the election, which in turn would assure that a GOP majority would return next year and be able to stop the same bill when it is proposed in the next Congress, as it surely will be. As it happened, however, the House only performed the first of the two steps: they stood like a stone wall and stopped the bill, all right, but they didn’t tell the world about it. As a result, an astonishing number of conservative voters, instead of being grateful to the Republicans for defeating that terrible bill, are mad at them for not pushing through a good bill of their own. But the latter was never in the cards this year; the name of the game was stopping the bad bill, not passing a good bill—another fact the GOP failed to communicate to its grass roots.

The opposition to the bill, and the making of that opposition the main reason to support the GOP, were part of one package. If the Republicans did the first, but not the second, they would lose control of the House, and the same bill that they had bravely defeated in 2006 would pass in 2007, rendering meaningless their great achievement of stopping the bill in 2006.

As Henry Fielding said in Tom Jones, it is not enough for a man to be good, he must also seem good. As far as immigration was concerned in 2006, the House Republicans had the “be” part down, it was the “seem” part that they neglected. To use a phrase from the evolution controversy, it was a matter of irreducible complexity. For the anti-open-borders package to “work,” all of its parts, the being and the seeming, had to be present. If any part of the package was missing, the open-borders bill would ultimately pass.

Why then, if it was the key to the survival of their majority status as well as to their ability to stop the open-border bill again next year, have the Republicans been so quiet about their great role in defeating the most insane and radical bill ever presented to the U.S. Congress? The answer is simple: to have publicized their opposition to S.2611 would have meant publicizing the fact that they were opposing the head of their own party, George W. Bush. It would have been, well, unseemly. “Vote for us Republicans, we killed President Bush’s insane open-borders scheme!” Such an open split with their own president was not the Republicans’ style. So they downplayed their greatest achievement. And because they downplayed it, it will be wiped out next year as though it had never been.

The bottom line is that the Republicans needed to separate themselves from the president, both for their own survival as the majority party and for the good of the country as a whole. They lacked the vision and the guts to see this. As a result, according to most indications, they will lose control of the House in today’s election, and Bush, in concert with Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats, will then be free to push through his immigration bill in the next Congress, subjecting America to a uniquely damaging, perhaps a fatal, blow. Thus will the House GOP have sacrificed itself, and the country, out of misplaced loyalty to a traitor president.

- end of initial entry -

David B. writes:

Thanks for your post today about the impending Republican defeat. For a while I have been sending you emails about Rush Limbaugh’s habit of saying, “I disagree with the President on immigration and I don’t understand it,” when Bush supports illegal alien amnesty. Occasionally, Rush has let it slip that he knows that “demographics will doom the GOP.”

A few times in recent weeks, Rush has told his listeners that only a GOP congress can stop amnesty. Still, 99% of the time El Rushbo bellows his rahrah Bush rant. Hannity follows along in his adolescent way. Remember, Bush had already adopted the liberal line on feminism and racial preferences. The GOP cheerleaders blindly followed along.

We see now that it would better if Kerry had won in 2004. He likely would have proposed a similar amnesty as part of the Dems laundry list. The GOP congress would have opposed it. Kerry would have spent his time making gaffes like the one last week.

LA replies:

I’ll have to post today another exchange I just had recently on how the Dems see their very survival as a party depending on the browning of America.

Tom S. writes:

In the late 1940’s Evelyn Waugh’s famously ill-tempered friend Randolph Churchill was operated on for a possibly cancerous tumor. Investigation found it to be non-malignant, but it was removed anyway. Writing in his diary, Waugh harrumphed “it is a typical triumph of modern medical science to find the only part of Randolph that was not malignant, and then cut it out of him”.

Likewise, it’s a typical triumph of modern “Conservative” politics to identify the only reliably conservative part of the Government (the Republican House) and take the actions required to make them lose…

I stand amazed…

Rick Darby writes:

Too right.

Without getting all rah-rah about it, I did urge voting Republican, in spite of that party’s failure to run with the one issue that could have avoided today’s probable spanking.

A new era of damage control starts tomorrow.

Jeremy G. writes:

I disagree somewhat with your assessment of the impending Republican disaster in today’s elections. Roughly 30% of the country thinks Bush is doing a good job. The Republicans in the House who stopped Bush’s insane immigration proposal have to appeal to immigration reform minded voters without alienating the 30% of the country that is still loyal to Bush. Although we may wonder why these voters have remained loyal to Bush, alienating or confusing them by attacking Bush’s immigration insanity may reduce overall votes in these elections. Bush’s treason has placed the Republican party in an impossible position precisely because many Americans do not recognize his treason. Paradoxically, this lack of recognition of Bush’s amazing treason is probably keeping Republicans from being completely routed.

LA replies:

A good point, but couldn’t Republican candidates simply have underscored their successful opposition to S. 2611 without bringing Busherón into it, and thus not alienating the pro-Bush voters?

Obviously, it is a terrible dilemma, which underscores the correctness of my position in 2004 that a Bush defeat would be better in the long run.

Gary M. writes:

I am not as pessimistic as some, perhaps illogically so.

If the House is closely divided, say, 220 Democrats and 215 Republicans, I think that the GOP delegation will stand nearly unanimously against amnesty/guest workers, for two reasons: (a) they’ve been getting an earful from the folks in their districts, and (b) enforcing party discipline seems to be easier for the party in the minority. As I recall, the vote for the fence bill was something like 250 to 180, so there were obviously some Democrats who voted for it, so even presuming some of those Democrats switch sides, I think there could still be 225 votes against amnesty/”guest workers”.

The other issue here is whether Bush would actually push legislation that has in actual point of fact no GOP support. I think the word would go up from Capitol Hill to the White House that Bush had better think very carefully before getting into bed with the Democrats to pass his pet legislation. Under those circumstances the Republicans in Congress will be very disinclined to give Bush assistance on anything else he wants to accomplish in the next two years. And if Pelosi reneges on her pledge not to allow an impeachment effort to go forward (a good possibility, I think), Bush can’t afford to have his own party ticked off at him, because he’ll need their help.

LA replies:

I don’t follow your reasoning. Bush has already pushed immigration legislation that most of the GOP doesn’t support. And he’s also made it clear that his open-borders scheme is absolutely top priority for him.

Bruce B. writes:

But what makes you think the impending loss is even significantly because of immigration? While the issue has more publicity now than at any time in recent memory, most average folks (unlike us) seem to still be talking more (or at least as much) about Iraq, the economy, etc. Do you think immigration has really reached the point of visibility in the hearts and minds of the grassroots that they are punishing the House Republicans over perceived inaction or is this just wishful thinking on your part as to how much influence what you have (correctly) called “the most fateful issue facing the nation” really has over the average voter’s thinking? The media elite set the parameters of political debate for most folks and the media elite (Rush, FoxNews included) are still pitifully inadequate on the issue (one of the reasons I read you).

I suspect you overestimate how influential the National Question is in this election.

I have seen the immigration polls you have quoted. But the issue doesn’t really seem to be on the lips of the voters I hear speaking about the election.

I wish it were not so and I’m sorry for the discouraging words. Also, I’m open to any evidence or arguments that I’m wrong.

You and I are in the + 6-sigma minority, so far out in right-field it isn’t even funny. But there’s not even a sufficient quantity/quality of discussion about the most basic “Duh!” issue, that is, the millions of Mestizos running across the border. I think conservatives are still in a stupor.

LA replies:

I’m not projecting anything here. This wasn’t my idea at all. It’s what other people have kept saying, and I have reported it—not with glee that “my” issue was so important, but with consternation. For example, see this post at VFR on September 6 quoting a whole slew of commenters saying that the Republicans need to be brought down because of their failure to do anything on immigration. I had other posts along these lines as well.

Also, here is something that someone just sent me from a blog at NRO called The Conways (blog link, permanent entry link) that I haven’t seen before in which the GOP pollster Kellyanne Conway (formerly Fitzpatrick) says that immigration is the second most important issue on voters’s minds. She says that given the strength of voters’ feelings on the subject, Republicans have harmed themselves by not running on the immigration issue. The all-caps emphasis is hers. This is not something that Auster cooked up because he’s obsessed with immigration. This is what the GOP establishment is saying, and what the GOP grassroots are saying. Kellyanne writes:

And then there is immigration. The hottest issue six short months ago (remember the May 1st walk-outs and protests in major cities?) and still a dominant one on talk radio and around kitchen tables in many areas, is all but ignored by both political parties. This is a mistake, especially for Republicans who should have more frequently embraced and more boldly articulated immigration reform on the campaign trail. [Emphasis added.]In a recent CBS/New York Times Poll, after Iraq, IMMIGRATION WAS THE SECOND MOST IMPORTANT ISSUE THAT AMERCIANS WOULD MOST LIKE TO SEE CONGRESS CONCENTRATE ON NEXT YEAR. And Americans are clear how hat should be done.
My correspondent writes: “The article pretty much says that most polls show Americans prefer the House plan and the idea of lessening illegals through stricter enforcement.”

Stephen T. writes:

I notice that news reports this morning are marveling that Bush seems “energetic and relaxed,” even in the face of these bad numbers. He is described as “cheerful” and “unfazed by the polls.” He has “a spring in his step.” I’m getting just cynical enough to believe that Bush actually welcomes the loss of the House and he welcomes it ENTIRELY because it will enable him to pass amnesty for illegal Mexican nationals. I believe opening that border may be more important to the Bush administration (and the “hidden hands” that control it—yes, I’m starting to believe in them, too) than perhaps any other issue, including who controls the Congress, the fate of other legislation, and the fortunes of the Republican party at large. I wonder if the ultimate swamping of this culture and economy by forty million Mestizo Mexicans is not considered by Bush and his masters a fair and square trade for the loss of a Republican majority in the House?

LA replies:

I don’t know about “Bush’s masters,” but I do believe he’s happy over prospective GOP loss because transforming America into a non-white country is the issue nearest his heart.

Bruce might say I’m making my issue the most important, but I think the evidence is plain that of all the issues Bush has dealt with as president, he has been the most stalwart, stubborn, hard-bitten, and fanatical on opening our borders and de-nationalizing America. Just remember the moment, unprecedented in American history, when Bush, standing next to his buddy the president of Mexico who openly disrespects the immigration laws of this country, was asked about the Minutemen, and referred to them as vigilantes. This was the purest expression of Bush’s true loyalties. He is against Americans insofar as they seek to defend America, and he is for the Mexicans who are invading and waging war against our country. This is his deepest political passion.

Bruce B. writes:

I think your issue is the most important issue (I like the word “fateful” which you recently used). I understand why you write about “your” issue so much. I back your approach and the relative emphasis you give the issues 100 percent. If you are “obsessed,” then so am I. I hope you’re right about the GOP establishment and grassroots. If so, the pols can’t ignore us forever. I just don’t hear much from the regular folks I interact with. The anger in them must be latent.

Ron L. writes:

A lot of conservatives and nationalists are basing their decisions on feeling. I do hope that the feeling of their necks being cut is good because that is what they are doing to the country.

And the damage. These idiots are ready to throw over even good politicians.

Where the hell is the effort to save Rick Santorum or George Allen? Where are people trying to save JD Hayworth? Randy Graf took out an incumbent over immigration. The Arizona GOP is looking to lose one or two Congress seats and they will not retake the governors mansion. These candidates had good stances, or at least claimed to, on immigration.

In the New York Metro area moderate Pete King and liberal Chris Shays stuck their neck out on this issue. King will probably survive. Shays will be lucky to have a job in February.

The pre-mortems by the establishment are already picking up on immigration.

Meanwhile political scientists and other commentators are calling for a more moderate GOP.

It will take a lot of hard work and discipline to rebuild from this disaster in the next year. And that is the time frame we have to shape the 2008 platform.

Frankly we lack the discipline and political maturity for it.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at November 07, 2006 05:44 AM | Send

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