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What If the Tables Were Turned in the Politics of Immigration?

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The only way out of that corner for the Republicans is to block any bill that would be acceptable to the Democrats, to focus their efforts on winning their traditional base, and to weather the hatred that will spew from the left.

What if God performed a miracle before the vote on immigration “reform” and transformed every illegal alien in America into staunch, conservative Republicans? Fanciful though it may be to consider such a miracle, thinking about the consequences can help us to cut through the shroud of rhetorical fog covering the immigration debate, because the likely response of the Democrats is both easily predictable and revealing.

First, the nation would find out just how fast Obama and the Democrats could build a fence on our southern border. Forget the talk about people who just want a better life or Democrats caring about immigrants. Since passing the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, the left has used immigration policy in general – for both legal and illegal immigrants – to further their political agenda by bringing in millions of left-leaning voters from Third World countries. The minute today’s illegal aliens ceased to be useful to that agenda, they would join law-abiding gun owners and tea party members on the left’s enemies list.

Immigration Reform protesters (AP photo)

Anyone doubting that prediction would have to believe that the Democrats would simply sit back and allow millions of new GOP voters to be put on a path to citizenship – and, hence, the voting booth – all in the name of getting illegals “out of the shadows.”  Given the left’s bold politicization of everything from climate research to the public school curriculum to the federal bureaucracy, can any seasoned political observer really envision the Democrats signing on to any action that would condemn their party to permanent minority status and derail their statist agenda?

But how would the left handle the public-relations challenges of such a radical shift in position, especially after years of positioning themselves as defenders of the huddled masses?  The safest bet is that the left’s rhetoric about illegal immigration would simply do an about-face, and that it would do so without apology or explanation. The specific narrative might evolve based on focus group testing, but we can reasonably expect that “undocumented workers” would suddenly become “illegal aliens” on the nightly news. The White House might float the notion that millions of illegal aliens could overwhelm our entitlement programs and keep the elderly from getting their Social Security checks. Or perhaps they would run with a national security angle and say that our porous borders provide easy access for terrorists wanting to harm women and children.  Whatever the cover story, we can predict that the Democrats would suddenly, and without fanfare, depict illegal aliens as a threat to the elderly, women, children, minorities, the poor, and possibly even to the climate.

Would liberals lack the chutzpah to pull off such a stunning change in rhetoric, if it was suddenly in the interest of their long-term agenda to do so?  Remember, we are talking about politicians who support partial-birth abortion, but claim that we must disarm law-abiding citizens in order to protect children. These are political pragmatists who could make the change from open-borders enthusiasts to enforcement hawks without breaking a sweat, and without feeling particularly obligated to give an explanation for the change.

The left might be cynical and self-serving, but they are not stupid. The Republican leadership, on the other hand, is scrambling to get the votes to sign their own political death sentence by putting millions of likely Democrats on the path to the voting booth. How can we make sense of self-defeating behavior on such a massive scale from the Republican Party?

The most common answer is that the GOP is losing the immigrant vote by huge margins, and that going soft on amnesty might make the party more appealing to immigrant voters. But that suggestion is reminiscent of a businessman losing his shirt on every transaction and deciding that the path to success is to do larger volume. The math doesn’t work, and even by the light of the dimmest bulb inside the Beltway, the GOP has to see that.

A popular solution from the GOP’s conservative wing is that the party can at least cut its losses by making real border security a condition for amnesty, but even that does not work. Trading border security for a path to legalization just closes the chicken coop with millions of new Democrat foxes inside the fence. The difference between legalization now and legalization later is simply a question of a defunct GOP now or a defunct GOP later.

The harsh reality for the GOP is that they have been outmaneuvered by the left for so long that now they are in a political corner. Any compromise that wins Senate approval and the signature of Barack Obama will be one that condemns the GOP to irrelevancy, and failure to compromise will subject the party to claims of bigotry from the cultural institutions controlled by the left. The only way out of that corner for the Republicans is to block any bill that would be acceptable to the Democrats, to focus their efforts on winning their traditional base, and to weather the hatred that will spew from the left.

Perhaps the miracle conservatives should pray for is that the GOP will be as worried about the future of the country as they are about getting along with the Democrats.

Dr. Tim Daughtry is co-author of Waking The Sleeping Giant: How Mainstream Americans Can Beat Liberals At Their Own Game.

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