The End of The Conservative Majority
One thing that you have to keep in mind about this conservative crackup over immigration is that it was inevitable. There's always been a racist, nativist element to America, and it usually expands in times where economics are tough for the middle and lower classes. As Bush Administration policies increased income inequality, the troops had to be riled up with the spectre of the scary brown man taking you job away (in truth, if you look at the actual figures, undocumented immigrants contribute just as much, if not more, to the economy than they take out). And since the Republican Party primarily gets its message out these days by demonizing the other, it was obvious that all the ugliness associated with white supremacism would be made manifest in this "secure the borders" critique, and that the dirty brown people would be blamed far more than the businesspeople who hired them cheaply.
There's simply no way to square that with an effort to win Latino votes. When even your most "moderate" standard-bearer is telling bilinguals to "turn off the Spanish TV set" (did anyone tell Eastern European Jews on the Lower East Side to speak English or die? Didn't they become the future entrepreneurs of America?), you have a major problem with Hispanic voters. And those chickens are coming home to roost.
As a Cuban who fled Fidel Castro's communist rule for a new life in the U.S., Julio Izquierdo would seem a natural Republican voter — a sure bet to adopt the same political lineage that has long guided most of his countrymen who resettled in South Florida.
But moments after taking his oath this week to become a U.S. citizen and registering to vote, the grocery store employee said he felt no such allegiances.
"I don't know whether Bush is a Democrat or a Republican, but whatever he is, I'm voting the other way," Izquierdo, 20, said Thursday as he waited for a taxi after a mass naturalization ceremony at the Miami Beach Convention Center.
Izquierdo said he did not like President Bush's handling of the Iraq war and was miffed at politicians, most of them Republican, who seem to dislike immigrants.
That sentiment, expressed by several of the 6,000 new citizens who took their oaths Thursday in group ceremonies that take place regularly in immigrant-heavy cities nationwide, underscored the troubled environment facing the GOP in the buildup to next year's presidential election.
Surveys show that among Latino voters — a bloc Bush had hoped to woo into the Republican camp — negative views about the party are growing amid a bitter debate over immigration policy.
The fastest-growing demographic in America is the Hispanic population. One party is telling them that they want to bring their bretheren out of the shadows and make sure they're not exploited by big business. The other wants to round them up and send them home whether they're Americans or not. There's no middle ground there. And if Hispanic voters start to vote like black voters, that's the end of the Republican Party as anything but a regional Southern phenomenon. End of story.
We saw a hint of this in Texas in late 2006, when Ciro Rodriguez won an improbable House pick-up in a border district. And there's every indication that this move of Hispanics to the Democratic Party is continuing.
Republican opposition to liberalized immigration reform has put at risk the loyalty of a key constituency - evangelical Protestant Hispanics. The loss of this Hispanic support endangers the GOP’s ability to win presidential elections.
In the view of Republican strategists, it is crucial for the party’s candidates to win a substantial share of the Hispanic vote to remain competitive in the Southwest mountain states - Colorado, Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico - and, looking farther ahead, in Florida and Texas.
Key leaders in the rapidly growing Latino evangelical community who had provided strong support to President Bush in 2004 are deeply angered by the opposition among Republicans to immigration legislation now stalled in the Senate.
“The Republican Party does not have a clue just how the perception of them among Hispanics has completely deteriorated in the last few years,” said Marcos Witt, Senior Pastor of the Hispanic congregation at Lakewood Church in Houston and a three-time Latin Grammy winner for his Christian recordings.
Some Republicans, like Karl Rove and RNC Chair Mel Martinez, understand this. But they've created a monster of a base that has zero tolerance for anyone that looks different, and I don't see how that gets reconciled in the near future. This immigration bill has been revived, and while Harry Reid made a great POLITICAL move by tying its comeback to the President, further sharpening the difference with his base, out in the country, in the Hispanic community, the fault lines are pretty clear. And it's not just among Hispanic immigrants. Take a look at this video from the folks at Dreams Across America, who are riding the rails to Washington to advocate for immigration reform.
This was a legal immigrant family, who played by the rules and got in line and came to America and started a business, and still the wife and son were deported. There is a strain of the Republican anti-immigrant crowd that will simply not be happy with anyone not born in this country who looks like them staying here. And given that we're a nation of immigrants, that is a political death knell.