The Coming Republican Reality Check

The usually wise and always engaging Mike Murphy has a piece in Time on a familiar there: the Hispanic woes of the GOP. The story he tells is familiar, of course. The country is becoming more Hispanic not just in the obvious states like Arizona and California and Florida but everywhere else, too. With Obama carrying Hispanics by a 35% margin--so much for the black-brown divide--the Republicans are screwed and will get more screwed until they come up with a message that appeals to Hispanics. Murphy rightfully notes that being pro life isn't enough to bring them into the fold. The party needs some kind of approach to immigration that won't scare off Hispanics and anyone doesn't tune into Lou Dobbs. The GOP's rejection of the Bush-McCain-Kennedy approach to immigration reform--not amnesty but a path to citizenship for those here illegally makes the comeback almost impossible. Dissing Sonia Sotomayor as unqualified or not that bright doesn't help matters for the Republicans.


This is one of those moments where a party is going to have to give up a fundamental tenet of its belief in order to grow. The Republicans gave up opposition to the New Deal and to Lindbergh-style isolationism. It seems entirely possible that they could, at some point, learn to swallow reality: the millions of illegal immigrants who are here are not going back and neither are their kids. You can either get them in the fold, out of the shadows, or you can entertain some fantasy a la Mitt Romney that they'll actually leave the country and reapply, the so called 'back of the line" idea. It's not that the anger over illegal immigration is all nativist in tone. It's note. If you spent years in Seoul or Lagos awaiting your visa and played by the rules, you've got to be pissed at those who came to America without abiding the rules. But at this point so what? Republicans can live with the political realities of the moment or indulge a fantasy world. My guess is that this one fantasy they'll learn to live without.


--Matthew Cooper

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Matthew Cooper is a managing editor (White House) for National Journal.

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