Immigration: Why the GOP Is Doomed

The post-mortems are in full swing, each more depressing than the last. They range from Hugh Hewitt’s Pollyannish optimism – “Romney can still win this!” – to Michael Graham at National Review, who more aptly expresses my own sentiments as follows:

So it is over. Finished. In November, we’ll be sending out our most liberal, least trustworthy candidate… to take on Hillary Clinton—perhaps not more liberal than Barack Obama, but certainly far less trustworthy.

And the worst part for the Right is that McCain will have won the nomination while ignoring, insulting and, as of this weekend, shamelessly lying about conservatives and conservatism.

You think he supported amnesty six months ago? You think he was squishy on tax cuts and judicial nominees before? Wait until he has the power to anger every conservative in America, and feel good about it.

Every day, he dreams of a world filled with happy Democrats and insulted Republicans. And he is, thanks to Florida, the presidential nominee of the Republican party.

Graham expects to spend the next nine months drinking himself silly. Right now, I would find that a very attractive option if it weren’t for those darn Mormons.

I still have no silver linings, but I do have an explanation. John McCain’s nomination is symptomatic of the irreparably fractured conservative movement.

And the issue that has created that fracture is illegal immigration.

You may not have noticed, but whenever I cite my own personal list of John McCain’s sins against conservatism – and they are legion – I fail to mention one that is at the top of all the talk show host’s lists – namely McCain/Kennedy, the so-called amnesty bill.

It’s not because I necessarily think McCain/Kennedy is a good idea. Certainly it is a politically disastrous one, pragmatically speaking. Very few people fully understand it – including me – and the thought of giving amnesty to lawbreakers is unpalatable. The bill is, however, an attempt to solve an intractable problem, one for which real conservatives don’t seem to have any solution, except “secure the borders first,” which, frankly, doesn’t address the problem at all.

Let’s start with an immutable principle: you cannot repeal the law of supply and demand.

As long as Mexico and other South American countries remain mired in crushing poverty, people will look to escape that poverty and cross over the border into the United States. “Secure the borders” all you want; they will keep coming. The demand for economic freedom is ever present, and it will not be denied. Certainly the supply is all but unlimited. Fences can be circumvented. Border guards can be eluded. Short of deploying the entire might of the American military on the border, people will continue to break into America in search of a better life.

That’s not to say that we should open our borders entirely. The “no borders” folks sound a lot like those who think we should legalize drugs. After all, both the supply and demand for dope are constant, too, so why not just give in? Because the consequences of legalization would be disastrous. Same with completely open borders. We decrease the demand by enforcing drug laws, just as we decrease demand by enforcing our borders. If we made no attempt to enforce border laws, we would be completely overrun by unskilled immigrants, and our economy would collapse under the strain.

Both in drugs and in immigration, enforcement of existing laws is necessary, but it is far from sufficient.

Continuing with the drug analogy, imagine saying “let’s not deal with people who are already addicted until we stop the drug supply first!” That would be lunacy, because current addicts are the primary reason for the continued demand. It’s all part of the same problem; you cannot separate the two.

Similarly, “securing the borders” requires some sort of accommodation for the 12 million people who are already here. They’re looking to bring over their families and friends. They’re creating a culture that feeds the demand, and they will not be entirely deterred by a great big fence.

A guest worker program makes sense, would ease the demand and help solve the problem, and it doesn’t have to be amnesty. If you doubt that, look at the precedent of the former Braceros program, instituted in 1942 for agricultural and railroad projects. Thousands would participate in the program and then return home with their earnings to Mexico. Evidence suggests that many, if not most, of illegal immigrants today would do the same.

So why don’t we do it today? Well, the problem back then was that Braceros were underbidding the unions, and Jack Kennedy decided to discontinue the program to make the Teamsters happy. And today, to conservatives, any accommodation smells like amnesty. And that’s why Republicans are shooting themselves in the foot.

Under McCain/Kennedy, all illegals would instantly be eligible for a Braceros-type guest worker program. If they wanted to be citizens, they’d have to pay $5,000 bucks and get in the back of the application line. Yet Rush and Co. scream “amnesty,” because they wouldn’t be deported en masse.

Holy living crap, folks. Deporting 12 million people is all but impossible.

OK, you may say. Then lock ‘em all up! They’re lawbreakers!

Well, we have six million beds in our jails in this country today. You’d need to triple that number to make this happen. How do you do that? Even more, why would you want to? Most of these people are willing to work, and work hard. They’re guilty of putting the welfare of their families above the law. That’s a crime, yes, but so is speeding. How we punish lawbreakers is tempered by the criminal’s intent, and the impact the crime has on society at large. If we’re going to solve this problem, we’re going to need laws that reflect the reality of the situation.

I am not saying, however, that McCain/Kennedy is the answer. It was bungled badly, particularly by Senator McCain, whose heavy-handed arrogance in ramming it down our throats with minimal debate did much to offend the GOP base. But Republican resistance to immigration reform has alienated the massive Hispanic vote, and that’s the reason McCain beat Romney among Latino voters by a ridiculously large 30-point margin.

It’s the main reason Romney lost.

I’m being squishy here, because I’m not sure what the ultimate answer is. I do know that all immigrants need to learn English. If people want to come to this country, they need to become part of the culture for their own economic survival.

The Left will have none of that. They want to open the borders, set up a Balkanized nation, and dismantle American culture. It’s atrocious, but it appeals to a large number of people, particularly in the absence of alternatives.

The Right, in turn, has no solutions. All they have is anger. They want to build a big freakin’ fence, and that’s all they’ve got. It’s not enough. It’s not going to win.

And it’s going to keep on hurting us for decades to come.

No Silver Linings in Mitt’s Loss

I should have stopped caring after New Hampshire. I’m trying to stop caring now. 

John McCain is now the Republican nominee. If John McCain wins the presidency, the Republican Party is done for at least two decades. 
If the Democrat wins, conservatives may be able to reclaim the party in 2010. 
I’m voting for the Democrat, whoever they may be. I would be less disgusted with Obama, but it’s definitely Hillary over McCain. 

Weirdness in Florida

Mitt’s Intrade numbers popped at 5:00, and AP reported that the exit polls showed that more than half of voters listed the economy as their number one issue, which is good for Mitt.

Then National Review posted the preliminary exits:
McCain 34.3 percent, Romney 32.6 percent, Giuliani 15.3 percent, Huckabee 12 percent.
Mitt’s Intrade numbers have collapsed. 
Could be a long night. 

Mitt handily winning the first Florida exit polls

But they’re not a very large sample size.

From campaignspot.nationalreview.com:

For Those Seeking The Usual Leaks…
I’m told not to expect any word of exit polls until around 5 p.m. …

UPDATE: For extremely localized results, the Naples Daily News is publishing its exit poll results as they get them. Their numbers so far:

Republican presidential primary

Mitt Romney – 107

John McCain – 66

Rudy Giuliani – 32

Mike Huckabee – 15

Fred Thompson – 3

Ron Paul – 2

Democratic presidential primary

Hillary Clinton – 48

John Edwards – 15

Barack Obama – 15

Joe Biden – 2

On Pins and Needles in Florida

The race remains excruciatingly close in Florida, and the InTrade numbers provide no insight. Romney and McCain keep trading the lead, although McCain is up more often than not. Still, when it’s this close, I doubt a 53/47 InTrade split has much predictive value. The investors, it seems, are looking for a winner, and they can’t decided on anything except that Giuliani ain’t it. (He’s at 3.o.)

Nobody knows anything. And I do mean nobody
Polls provide little or no insight. McCain is up in the RCP average by half a point, yet the outlier polls that show Romney significantly ahead aren’t included. I take some comfort in the fact that there are no outlier polls that I know of showing McCain with a surprisingly big lead. The usual polling suspects – Rasmussen, Zogby, et al – significantly underestimated Romney’s strength in Michigan and New Hampshire, although they may have overestimated it in Iowa. That could be the case here, too. Then again, maybe not. 
Nobody knows anything. 
Talked to a political insider who was actually in Washington for the State of the Union. He’s pessimistic, thinking that the Iraq kerfuffle hurt Romney more than McCain. When I cited article after article pointing out exactly the opposite was true, he perked up. “That’s the reaction, huh?” He was far more confident after talking to me. And I don’t know anything. 
He doesn’t have any idea what’s going to happen today. 
I wonder if the people of Florida realize that what they do today will determine the course of the Republican Party for decades to come. If McCain pulls it out, then the Republicans will no longer be the intellectual home of the conservative movement.  McCain will go down to ignominious defeat against a candidate, who, unlike McCain, will be more interested in battling Republicans than Democrats. 
The thing that sticks in my craw is the reprehensible justification for a McCain vote that maintains that McCain is “the only Republican who can win in November.”  This is asinine for two reasons:
1. It’s not true, and
2. Winning with McCain is worse than losing. 
After the roller coaster ride that is this nominating process, who in their right mind thinks that a poll taken in January has any predictive value for November? Two months ago, Rudy Giuliani was unbeatable. Now it looks like he will have fewer delegates at the Republican Convention than Ron Paul, if he has any delegates at all. You really think polls showing McCain beating Hillary by a point or two matter at all? 
And say he does win. You then have a president who is far more interested in what the New York Times thinks of him than the Republican base, which he hates with a vitriolic passion more intense than anything the Clintons could muster. Imagine how the NYT editorial page will praise him when he nominates a David Souter lookalike to replace Justice Stevens to “reach consensus” and “maintain the ideological balance of the Supreme Court.” Consider how CNN will wax rhapsodic as McCain  jacks up taxes on “the rich” in the name of “equality.” Tremble in fear as Al Gore soils himself in delight over McCain’s trillion-dollar global warming debacle that will bankrupt this country and solve nothing. 
In what sense, then, is a McCain victory a victory for the GOP, who will be stuck running him for reelection in 2012 whether they like it or not? The GOP that can support a John McCain is not a GOP in which I can rightfully belong. The GOP might be able to win if it nominates George Clooney, too. It’s a bad scene when your candidates win and your ideas lose. 
It’s all up to you, Florida. What are you going to do about it?
Nobody. Knows. Anything.