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A RINO Manifesto

From 2004 until 2010, I essentially made my living as a paid Republican hack. So it’s really remarkable to me that I discover that I am, according to the Tea Party, a RINO.

RINO, in case you been living under a rock for the past decade, is an acronym that stands for Republican In Name Only. In order to be a true Republican, one must swear eternal allegiance to every last Republican tenet or risk being shunned by those More Republican Than Thou.

The problem, however, is that it becomes harder and harder to pinpoint exactly what those tenets are. It’s not easy to identify the ideological underpinnings of a movement driven by anger rather than reason.

Take, for example, Herman Cain.

I know I said plenty about that guy yesterday, but it’s worth noting that if the Republican Party stands for anything, it’s lower taxes. So how to explain the fact that the Tea Party’s latest darling is someone who wants to jack taxes up sky high for well over half of Americans? Then people like me come along and say that’s a bad idea, and somehow we’re the RINOs.

Something is very wrong with this picture.

It’s remarkable to me that the Republican Party has been able to maintain a high level of Ronald Reagan worship amid all of the Tea Party nastiness, when it’s painfully clear that on two of the most pressing issues facing our nation, namely entitlements and immigration, Ronald Reagan was the epitome of RINOism. Reagan was guilty of doubling the payroll tax to shore up Social Security and offering real amnesty to illegal aliens, not the pretend amnesty that President Bush proposed and caused conniption fits among rhinoceros haters.

Indeed, watching the immigration issue play out here in the state of Utah is particularly fascinating. The Tea Party in Utah somehow manages to outcrazy the Tea Partiers nationally by adopting the policy positions of one W. Cleon Skousen, a dead John Birch Society relic who made a living by mixing rancid interpretations of Mormon prophecy into hard right politics. (Glenn Beck is Mr. Skousen’s intellectual stepchild.) The smug self-righteousness of the Skousenites is truly staggering, but that doesn’t trouble them at all, because they’re going to heaven and you’re not. In their mind, religion and Republicanism are the same thing.

But then a strange thing happened. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints came out with a very tolerant and inclusive call for immigration laws that are reasonable and workable and don’t involve rounding up a dozen million people and tossing them over the border to Tijuana. The LDS Church does not make it a habit to inject itself into political discussions on a regular basis, so on the rare instances when they do so, members of the church ought to stand up and take notice.

Utah’s Tea Party did exactly that. At the Utah Republican State Convention this past year, they passed resolutions to say why the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was dead wrong on this issue.

Apparently, it’s more important to these Super Mormons to be Republican than it is to be Mormon.

Ronald Reagan once said he didn’t leave the Democratic Party, the Democratic Party left him. I believe the same things I have always believed, and yet now I am not a real Republican, and, according to Utah Republicans, I’m probably not a real Mormon, either.

This needs to stop.

Mainstream conservatives – and mainstream Mormons, for that matter – need to stand up and reassert themselves. There are still more of us in Utah than there are of them. If we let them continue to define what constitutes being a Republican, then we have no one to blame but ourselves when there isn’t a single political party that represents what mainstream conservatives believe.

RINOs and MINOs, unite! You have nothing to lose but your green Jell-O salad!

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  1. Reagan’s amnesty was a disaster, and it wound up exacerbating the problem it was supposed to solve. The trade-off in 1986 was that we’d let the illegal aliens who were here off, and in exchange there’d be border enforcement. Well, we got half that deal and another 11-20 million illegal aliens, depending on who you believe.

    The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints came out with a very tolerant and inclusive call for immigration laws that are reasonable and workable and don’t involve rounding up a dozen million people and tossing them over the border to Tijuana.

    This claim pisses me off to no end. It’s the most tiresome of false choices. If we set up a serious double-barrier fence, like we now have south of San Diego, combined with an employment enforcement program like e-Verify we could cut inflow by 70 to 80%. Most illegals here would eventually leave on their own. If there’s no work, then there’s no point in staying. Once that’s done then, and then only, could we look at amnestying the remnants, the real hardcases.

    Making an appeal to “mainstream” Republicans is a bit self-serving on this topic, as polling shows that not only the majority of Republicans, but Americans overall, are wildly opposed to amnesty and favor laws like Arizona and Alabama’s crackdowns. Here’s a relevant gallup story on Arizona’s law:

    You may find my take “unsympathetic”, but I’m in an area that’s been inundated by illegals. It’s more and more difficult to get a job if you don’t speak Spanish around here. I’m way past being patient with people who want to be sympathetic at my expense, and given the fact that we have an unemployment rate bouncing between nine and ten percent, the idea of adding yet another 10-20 million workers to the labor pool is not just unacceptable, it’s insane.

    The Mormons aren’t the only ones trying to stuff their pews with illegals, to be fair. The Catholics and Baptists are in on the scam, along with the usual liberal protestant suspects. If you want to extend Christian charity to these folks, fine, Be my guest, but do it in their native country. Not here, not on my dime.

    • Agreed: Reagan’s amnesty was a disaster. The Bush proposal back in 2006 or so was not amnesty. It was a guest worker program, which is vital in order to manage the traffic flow along the border. If we create a mechanism where people can come here, do seasonal work, and then go home, you can spend your time at the border stopping drug dealers and terrorists and less time stopping hotel maids and apple pickers. Immigration reform requires a solution that addresses both the supply and the demand for illegal immigration. Just building a big fence doesn’t solve the problem.

      • I’m not sure which proposal we’re talking about here, as Bush had several he was pushing, all the while deliberately neglecting his duty to enforce the law. SB 2611 most certainly offered amnesty, although it did so under a different name designed to provide the most transparent of political cover. Here’s Heritage’s analysis:

        The CBO figure of eight million immigrants current illegal immigrants receiving legal
        permanent residence and 7.8 million new legal
        immigrants entering the country. Combined with
        9.5 million immigrants who will enter under
        current law, the result would be 28.3 million
        persons becoming legal residents over ten years.
        This is almost three times the level permitted by
        current law.

        Then you have the continuing imports of unskilled immigrants, which could have been as high as 103 million, until that was too much even for the Senate, and they scaled it back to 66 million. This was nuts in 2006, when we had a good economy. With our current state, such a proposal is an unspeakable horror.

        Mind you, most of these people come in with almost no skills, poor English (if even that), and they work at bargain basement wages. They’ll use more in services than they will pay in taxes. They’re also eligible for all sorts of minority set-asides denied to native Americans.

        And as if this was not horror enough, the enforcement provisions were laughable, including one obscenity that barred states and localities from helping the federal government. The whole proposal was a nation-breaking obscenity, and it died a well deserved death.

        If we create a mechanism where people can come here, do seasonal work, and then go home, you can spend your time at the border stopping drug dealers and terrorists and less time stopping hotel maids and apple pickers.

        Even if they did go back (a very big if), we’d still find ourselves giving their kids citizenship, and let me tell you, nothing looks says “mule” to a narcotrafficante more than someone who can cross the border at will.

        Moreover, there’s no right to cheap apple pickers and maids. If the American people say you have to work with a given amount of visas, then you either do that or find another line of work. If the farmers and hotel owners want sympathy, they can get behind all the textile and auto workers who’ve lost their jobs to free trade.

        Just building a big fence doesn’t solve the problem.

        It’s a necessary, if not sufficient step. We can handle millions of ATM transactions every hour. We can do instant background checks on guns. The idea that we can’t do something similar to screen for basic employment status is baseless. We have a good starting program in e-Verify, though it still needs refinement.

        Again, let me reiterate, your position has no claim to real “mainstream” status. It’s a minority position in the nation at large, and it’s an increasingly fringe position within the GOP. Those opposing amnesty and guest-worker programs aren’t some small group of kooks, they’re the voting public.

        • I fully agree with you on the necessary-but-not-sufficient theory of border enforcement. The problem here is that you’re equating “amnesty” with “guest worker programs.” Guest worker programs, while a form of legal residency, provide no path to citizenship, and, under the Bush proposal, those who wanted to become citizens would have been forced to pay a $5,000 fine, return to their country of origin, and then get in the back of the line of the legal immigration process.

          Limbaugh/Beck/Hannity looked at that proposal and screamed “amnesty!” at the top of their lungs because it didn’t deport everyone immediately and bar them from ever returning. It bears no resemblance to what Reagan did in the ’80s, but the debate has become so skewed that no one is willing to consider a guest worker program because they’ve been misled as to what it is.

          The irony here is that we had such a program for over twenty years – the Bracero program – which brought in hundreds of thousands of people every year for seasonal work between 1942 and 1964, when it died after JFK pulled the plug as a sop to union leaders. The program allowed people to come without their families, thereby minimizing the so-called “anchor baby” problem, and then return home when the work was done. It’s not a big “if” as to whether they went home or not, because we knew where they were every step in the process, and they cheerfully left when the work was done to return to their families.

          One of the reasons we have so many illegals here is because they’re afraid to go home when they want to go home because they don’t think they’ll be able to get back. The majority of illegal aliens didn’t scurry across the border in the dead of night – they arrived legally under temporary work visas and then didn’t go home when their visas expired.

          Deporting 12 million people is unfeasible and would constitute the largest forced relocation of human beings in the history of the planet. A guest worker program, not amnesty, is the only practical solution.

          • I’ll make this my last reply. Admittedly, I get very spergy on this topic, as it’s something of a hobby horse for me.

            Look, the Bush “path to citizenship” is Amnesty in the same way Reagan’s plan was. Reagan’s plan required a fee, too. Bush added a step or two more, but these are sops for suckers. In the end the illegals get permanent residency–back of the line or no–and when you look at the numbers involved…well, it takes your breath away. It was nuts in 2006. In today’s economy, it’s a non-starter.

            It’s not just the usual villains on AM radio and Fox News who noted all this. Senators, Congressmen and the Heritage Foundation all saw it. Mickey Kaus saw it, and he’s hardly a rabid ranter. Bush, Lieberman, Kennedy and McCain were trying to pull a fast one, and they got called out on it. Maybe if they had been serious about enforcement from 2001 on, we could have come to an agreement. Blame them and their incompetence, not Limbaugh. For once, he was doing his job.

            Before we tout the benefits of the bracero program, let’s not forget that it was rife with all sorts of abuses. It wasn’t just the unions who shut it down. The real problem with it is that, first, cheap labor disincentivizes automation. Second, it runs contrary to the bargain we made with the governing class over NAFTA, where the Mexicans stay in Mexico and we buy their products. Most of these crops can be grown just fine in Mexico as well as here, or they can be grown in other countries that we have free trade agreements with. Or–horror of horrors–employers can pay Americans a higher wage.

            One of the Ag groups that keep crying for more labor are lettuce farmers in Yuma, AZ. So on top of subsidized irrigation water to grow a plant that 95% water in the middle of the AZ desert, these guys want to import serf labor to undercut native workers and to put off investment in machinery. Why not perform the same charade 20 miles to the south? This stuff is repeated time and again. It’s a corrupt bargain.

            If you think a guest worker program will cut down on the “anchor baby” phenom, your kidding yourself. Anyone bright enough to get in on such a program, will know how to game the 14th Amendment, and there will always be plenty of immigration lawyers to help make sure they know about it. If the program had a provision dealing with this, I could tolerate it, but I don’t trust our courts these days to uphold such a commonsense idea.

            As for “deporting 12 million people”, that’s a strawman argument. Shut down the inflow, block employment, and the 12 million will go back the same way they came in. There’s no need for stormtroopers, cattle cars and everything else in the parade of horribles that amnesty boosters always try to scare us with. This has been demonstrated in AZ and AL. Once the jobs are gone, the illegals take off.

            Once we get a good five to ten years of serious enforcement, then, and then only, can we entertain the idea of a guest worker program or an amnesty, because then we can sort the real need from the rent-seeking. Until then, the governing class and their business allies are not to be trusted.


  • Pre-Michigan Mitt Misgivings | Stallion Cornell's Moist Blog October 20, 2011

    […] The LDS Church, publicly and controversially, issued a statement on immigration that is far more lib…They decried mass deportation and stated that “any state legislation that only contains enforcement provisions is likely to fall short of the high moral standard of treating each other as children of God.”  They came out in support of the kind of guest worker programs that immigration zealots wrongly mislabel as amnesty, and they supported Utah legislation that codified these principles into law, only to watch the Utah GOP pass a party platform that attacked those laws and targeted politicians who supported them. Utah’s Republican governor is now facing stiff primary opposition from zealots who are focusing almost exclusively on his willingness to sign the Church-supported bills into law. Ironically, his Republican opponents are all Mormons who  are angry that the governor has taken the same political position as their church leaders. […]