Sometimes They Screw-Up

As another note on the immigration issue, I should note that some of the fear of this topic in progressive circles seems to me to reflect an undue Fear of Republicans. Basically, the thinking seems to be that if Republicans are all talking about how tough talk on immigration is going to be a great issue for them it must be right because, after all, the GOP is great at this stuff.

It's worth keeping in mind, however, that when the ship was being steered by hardened political strategists, the Republican Party was adhering to a firmly pro-immigrant line. It was always known that Bush's immigration policy wasn't popular with his base, but he thought it was vital to his strategy in the 2000 election, and the pro-immigration version of the Republican Party did quite well in 2002 and 2004. The turn in Republican rhetoric came because the base revolted against the political strategy that had been outlined by the party's strategists. Then, as it became clear that Republicans were facing big losses in 2006, a lot of them turned to anti-immigration rhetoric to try to preserve control, but they lost anyway. Similarly, in 2007 those of us in the DC area were inundated with anti-immigrant ads from Virginia Republicans running in local races and the Virginia GOP did terribly.

Basically, immigrant-bashing doesn't have a great track record as an electoral issue, and it doesn't seem to be the case that this is actually a cause the Republicans started espousing because of it's political utility. If anything, it's the reverse, something the political hacks didn't want to take on, but that the base has pushed them into.