There's little novelty in his message. The GOP should pander to Hispanics to gain Hispanic votes, keeping in mind not only current voters but future voters as well, many of whom are the children of illegal immigrants but who are themselves citizens under the current reading of the 14th amendment. If promises are made to them by Republicans running for office, they will respond by voting for those Republicans in greater numbers than would have otherwise been the case.
Duh. Nadler offers nothing about how pandering to one group can dampen support from another. He gives no corollary as to how pandering to white voters might result in a similar gain, albeit of a much greater magnitude.
This in spite of the fact that in the 2004 Presidential election, eight of the ten tightest swing states have Hispanic populations that are proportionally smaller and white populations that are proportionally larger than the nation at large. In Presidential politics, white voters are more important than their 81% share of the voting electorate indicates. Hispanics, in contrast, are less influential than their 6% share suggests. There are nearly 14 white voters for each Hispanic voter, and that understates the actual importance of white voters!
Nadler equates enforcement with deportation:
The illegals themselves--the group most directly affected--understand "enforcement first" for what it really is: a step toward mass deportation. That is why thousands of undocumented Brazilians exited Riverside, N.J., when the town council sanctioned their landlords and employers.He doesn't realize that he is defeating his own argument by pointing to this, or similar events in Oklahoma and Arizona. Merely mentioning the commitment to law enforcement is enough to get masses to voluntarily leave of their own accord. Mass deportations would be impossible, because for each illegal migrant removed, nearly an order of magnitude more would hit the road on their own, if they had not already jettisoned during the 'build-up'.
The specter of massive deportations in the future also becomes even less tenable, since there will be fewer illegal migrants to deport. Apprehensions along the border have dropped 30% from last year in light of a few highly-publicized workplace raids and the political salience of the issue thanks to the efforts of people like Tom Tancredo and Lou Dobbs.
Nadler gives attention to the most recent Presidential election:
Republicans' presidential Hispanic vote share increased to 40% in 2004 from 21% in 1996. In 2004, Latinos comprised 6% of the electorate, but 8.1% of the voter-qualified citizenry. With the partisan margin shrinking, the incentive for major Hispanic registration efforts by either party was scant.Incidentally, in showing Hispanic underrepresentation at the polls relative to the percentage of American citizens eligible to vote, he is pointing to a concern voiced by Fredo Arias-King, who spent years working in Mexican politics. Arias-King expalins how Latin Americans tend to be more fatalistically resigned to let the political winds blow as they will. They accept corruption as a part of the way the world works, and they tend to put less emphasis on fulfilling one's civic duty (like voting) than their Euro-descended North American counterparts do.
Keep in mind, Nadler isn't referring to illegal immigrants or legal visa holders--he's talking about full-fledged citizens who can go to the polls just as easily as you or I can, yet they are 25% less likely to take half an hour out of the day to do so. Great for politicians, especially incumbents who've been around for awhile. Not so good for the maintenance of a vigilante public holding its elected representatives to account.
Regarding Nadler's contention, the paper running it should first square it with the work of one of its in-house writers, Kimberly Strassel, who claimed the figure to be 26%. Strassel appears to be wrong here, which is of little surprise as she also incorrectly overstated the Republican share of the Hispanic vote in 2004. That dealt with, he might also add that Republicans' white vote share increased to 58% in 2004 from 46% in 1996. Republicans picked up 11 million white votes and 1.3 million Hispanic votes from '96 to '04.
Hispanic support for the GOP dropped by 10% in last November's mid-terms, compared to 2004. It dropped by 7% for whites. With Hispanics at just under 6% of that election's electorate, and whites at 81%, this translates to a loss of 550,000 Hispanic votes and 5.5 million white votes.
Since one vote is worth, uh, one vote, regardless of who it comes from, you might expect the bulk of the strategizing to focus upon the group which has been the most profitable over the last three Presidential elections.
Nadler provides a great illustration of how multiple anecdotes do not necessarily constitute a statistically significant dataset, and when they are used to push a point that has little empirical backing it is often a sign that rigorous support for the point is lacking.
He mentions three contests, two in Arizona and one in Texas, in which the GOP candidate incorporated restriction into his platform. That, according to NumbersUSA, one of the winners has been better on immigration than the representative he replaced, one has been the same, and one has been worse, is beside the point.
More importantly, the Republicans who went down in defeat were more open-bordered than the rest of their party, while the newly-victorious Democrats who replaced them are more restrictionist than not only the rest of their party, but more so than Congress as a whole is. While only 5.9% of the Tom Tancredo's Immigration Reform Caucus (now lead by Brian Bilbray, who could have just as easily been pictured where Hayworth is in Nadler's piece with the caption "Rep. Brian Bilbray (R., California) made immigration his core issue during the 2006 campaign. He won.") in the House lost last November, 16.7% of non-caucus Republicans did.
To those not familiar with the American political scene, it might seem obvious that if states that were solidly Republican when they were solidly white but that are now losing both their red hue and white complexion, Republicans might try to push back to retain that favorable situation. This does not appear to cross Nadler's mind:
The election of 2008 marks the beginning of the political attrition, not its end.The growth of the Hispanic poor and underclass populations will continue at rates greater than any other major group in the US. Because of this growth, Republicans had better find a way to garner most of these votes. In the study he's toting, he found that in areas with lots of illegal immigrants, Hispanics tend to vote for open borders.
That's a tall order, since a poor, uneducated, affirmative-action eligible, urbanly-concentrated ethnic minority who has a penchant for out-of-wedlock birthing doesn't exactly fit the profile of the typical Republican voter. Of course, the obvious questions to ask are why the growth is seen as inevitable, and why the GOP should not try to prevent it from becoming a reality.
He seems to think that Republicans should move in the same direction as those Hispanic voters, to get out ahead of the trend towards lots of illegal immigrants and lots of Hispanics spread out all over the country, by espousing more open borders positions. Nadler is basically saying, "Let me have it my way and I'll show you how to win!" It'd be like, up by two with one and a half minutes remaining, he urges you to punt on second down because he has a blitz package he thinks should stop their offense. Maybe we should just keep the ball on the ground and run out the clock, coach? It's worked before, after all!
In my regular criticism of the WSJ on immigration, I try to point to what can be regarded as improvement in the newspaper's presentation by those who share my restrictionist stance. To that, the mythical 44% figure for President Bush's share of the Hispanic vote appears to have finally been expunged for good. While not the intention, the paper has admitted that the mass deportation argument is a strawman, as mere lipservice to tougher enforcement leads to thousands in just one city to leave under their own volition. And, curiously, Nadler closes in a way that would make one think, had he not read all that came before, that Nadler generally agreed with Tom Tancredo:
As the 2006 re-election of Republicans Heather Wilson and Steve Pearce of New Mexico and Jeff Flake of Arizona demonstrated, the GOP agenda can include national security as well. In 2006, Latinos helped re-elect candidates who advocated the border fence, electronic surveillance, expedited deportation of violent criminals, and biometric worker identification.Uh, who are the Republicans advocating mass deportation? Well, at least getting whoever is advocating that to stop doing so is a far less 'ambitious' goal than previous WSJ op/eds on influencing Republican positions on immigration have taken up.
The next proposal for comprehensive immigration reform can contain all of this. To retain their Hispanic gains, Republicans need to repudiate only the immoral, uneconomical goal of mass deportation.
It is funny to see a paper that holds GOP runaways--forced overboard as the ship they've been steering for the last seven years is sinking--as visionaries of long-term Republican viability, that supports incredibly unpopular electoral losers (a continuation of the military presence in Iraq, opposition to the minimum wage increase, etc), and that continues to hemorrhage readers, has such confidence in telling Republican leaders how to win over voters. Happily, the 'advice' is falling on more and more deaf ears (or blind eyes), with the proliferation of the blogosphere, video sharing sites, competition from radio, online newspapers, 24-hour tv news, and the like.
++Addition++The WSJ, in an atypical move, actually gives JD Hayworth space in the 'letters' section to defend himself against Nadler's piece.