|Senator Linsdey Graham|
Well, Republicans, here’s the bad news. Your attempts to suddenly seem immigrant-friendly are awkward at best, and - to put it more bluntly - seem hypocritical, superficial and desperate.
On the other hand, there is good news. There is no reason to believe Mitt Romney’s loss to Barack Obama truly represents some kind of final nail in the coffin of the Republican Party. Republicans might actually look at immigration someday as something that benefits them.
All you have to do is look at Irish American history.
Last week, Republican lawmakers were suddenly busy working to reform America’s immigration policies. That’s not to suggest Republicans have been ignoring immigration.
Quite the contrary, as prominent members of the Republican Party have made names for themselves by suggesting that America would be better off sealing up its borders, building walls, or otherwise parroting anti-immigrant nativists from the 19th century.
Well, now, Republicans in the House of Representatives have gone and passed a bill which would lure highly educated immigrants to the U.S. GOP members of the Senate, meanwhile, have come up with their own version of the so-called Dream Act, which would help younger immigrants work legally in the U.S.
There’s no secret to why Republicans are suddenly embracing immigrants. They see their party going in one direction, and America going in the other direction.
Speaking on the TV news show Face the Nation, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Grahamsaid,
“[Hispanics are] the fastest-growing demographic in the country, and we're losing votes every election cycle. And it has to stop. It's one thing to shoot yourself in the foot. Just don't reload the gun.”
He added, “I intend to tear this wall down and pass an immigration reform bill that's an American solution to an American problem.”
Read more news on Irish immigration issues here
Here’s the problem. This is not exactly the way to sway large numbers of Hispanic Americans to vote Republican. That’s because Hispanic voters - like all voters - walk into the voting booth caring about many issues, rather than just one.
The biggest problem the Republican Party is facing is not Hispanic voters, but instead where they live.
The Republicans continue to get absolutely trounced in urban areas. You know why? Because their policies are profoundly anti-urban.
Like it or not, government services - funded by dreaded taxes - play a very important role in the lives of city residents. They understand that without taxes there are no schools for their children, no cops for their streets and no buses or subways to move them around. The Republican obsession with anti-tax, anti-government rhetoric is profoundly out of touch with urban voters.
Given his infamous comments about the freeloading 47 percent, the amazing thing about Romney is that he did as well as he actually did in the election.
But now there is a feeling among Republicans that if they simply don’t seem quite so hostile on immigration, Hispanics may start voting for them.
It is understandable why some Republicans believe Hispanics should be voting for the GOP in greater numbers. They have deep religious and entrepreneurial traditions in America.
And yet, shockingly, the GOP’s obsession with abortion and lower taxes for the wealthy has yet to resonate with Mexicans and Dominicans and Puerto Ricans living in and around America’s great cities.
Indeed, other than moderating its overall message, if the GOP wants to succeed with these voters, there best tactic may well be to do nothing at all.
After all, ethnic Americans living in and around American cities from the 1930s to the 1960 rarely voted for Republicans. Few ever thought they would see the day when large numbers of Irish Catholics voted for Republicans.
But once they assimilated more deeply into the American mainstream middle class, they were willing to vote for the likes of Richard Nixon, and, of course, Ronald Reagan. It didn’t hurt that the latter was one of their own.
As the saying goes, some Irish Americans turned conservative once they had something to conserve.
So, Republicans, the good news is you do have a shot at the Hispanic vote.
The bad news? You may have to wait another 30 years or so.
(Contact “Sidewalks” at tdeignan.blogspot.com or [email protected])