It grates, right down to my adult bones, when I hear folks in my political party pandering to Americans of Hispanic descent on the immigration issue. I’m a first generation American. Immigration has never been a core issue for me. Beyond border security and enforcing current laws, we should not be tinkering with an already broken regulatory system. While I do not practice immigration law, I know lawyers that do, even at our firm, who will tell you that there is plenty to do today to fix the current system for people in this country legally.
While no elected official will admit this in public, immigration reform is at its core a political issue. For the Democratic Party it is a way to lock in generations of new voters. Doing so locks in urban and border state voters they need for future elections. The Democratic Party does not have the votes in Congress to do this alone, so they need to shame Republicans, a small group of them, to follow their policy agenda.
For some odd reason, we fall in to this trap. We pay communications consultants, and other well-meaning soothsayers, a lot of money to lead us to a political promised land that does not exist. As former RNC Chairman Haley Barbour used to say every now and then, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Rather than hyper obsess with code words or coming up with monikers such as [insert your word here] conservative, why not communicate our conservative agenda to all voter groups and adopt the latest technology to do so? Using plain ol’ English is a good thing.
The Republican Party is consumed lately by what others say about it, especially the left. We are a conservative party. We must run and speak with a conservative message. That does not make us cold or heartless. Quite the opposite. This is especially true for immigration and the Hispanic voter issue. The GOP will never have a majority of the Hispanic vote, at least not in the next decade or two. There would need to be a political Black Swan moment in the country to make it so.
Can the GOP sap 30% to 40% of this voter demographic? We sure can. But we need to do so by talking like conservatives, not liberals or Democrats. Hyphenated politics is balkanization politics. It is bad for America. It is not conservative. My family did not come to this country, nor do folks from other places, to be constantly reminded they are from somewhere else or that they speak languages other than English. It is illegal to ask these things in the workplace. Why are we doing it in politics? It is elitist and pedantic. Not a very conservative or Republican way to project.
A lot has been said this week about the new Gang of Eight announcement on immigration. Most of it, respectfully, bunk. It was an event made for a New York Times reader, not the majority of Americans. Two of the more thoughtful and focused pieces were penned by Michael Barone, the other one by the National Review editorial board. Read them both. Well worth your time.