Moderate Restrictionism?

Ross Douthat explains that anti-immigration politics hasn't failed, it's just never really been tried. I think this is what my late grandfather used to say about Marxism. I'm pretty sure that, at a minimum, it really was tried during the 2006 midterms where, just as it always does, it failed to deliver on its promises. To take Ross more seriously, he says that to succeed politically what's needed is a "moderate-restrictionist position" rather than the current dynamic where we have "politicians who make restrictionist promises they don't intend to keep in the hopes of keeping the yahoo vote appeased, and politicians who sound like, well, yahoos themselves."

That may be right, but it seems to me that "moderate" anything is incompatible with being the sort of political silver bullet that for a while many Republicans hoped, and many Democrats feared, the immigration issue would be. It's simply not a high-salience issue for the majority of Americans who aren't rabid Mexican-haters. The way you would elevate its salience is through demagoguery, but there's little evidence that immigration demagoguery is genuinely popular.

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