Immigration reform: of RINOs and Rubio

20130210.huntingrinosIt’s been a couple of weeks since the Senate’s bipartisan Gang of Eight preempted President Obama with a declaration of intent to tackle immigration reform.  I’ve not been totally on top of the news cycle since then, but I have sampled some of the conversation on the Right. I was heartened by Cosmoscon’s punctual endorsement of reform.  Charles Krauthammer’s more recent advice, with its retrospective “I told you so,” is a somewhat welcoming if wary analysis.

Yet, many other conservatives are beside themselves with complaints and grief.  They charge fellow Republicans with foolhardy electoral panic and lament the Charlie Brown naivete of working with Democrats.  In the worst instances, they let loose a cry of RINO–Republican In Name Only–against anyone they want to dismiss as spineless or traitorous.  For any conservative so tempted, do the rest of us a favor.  Vent your frustrations in private.  Try screaming into a thick pillow.  Such name calling has no place in a party of winners.

No one doubts the need for immigration reform.  But the rub lies in the long-running tension between enforcement and “amnesty.”  The National Review’s John O’Sullivan warns Republicans that amnesty would mean decades of Democratic domination.  He wants conservatives to realize that Hispanics vote Democrat for socioeconomic reasons rather than out of ethnic solidarity.  Although an astute observation, it’s only relevant if the proposed reform would result in illegal immigrants readily gaining citizenship.  But since it includes caveats like sending illegals to the back of multiple lines, that doesn’t seem to be the case.  Besides, O’Sullivan is working with a straw man.  Who in the GOP is actually contending that bipartisan reform will automatically garner Hispanic votes?

Victor Davis Hanson, also at National Review, lodges his own reform reservations.  He observes that “special interests” (hardly ever an actually helpful term) are too entrenched, whether they be liberal activists working in identity politics or business owners dependent on abusively cheap labor.  As he sees it, committed liberals will never budge for a fence or strict enforcement.  But there’s little reason to think Republicans won’t be able to leverage public support for sensible enforcement measures.  At least as long as any would-be Todd Akins of immigration keep away from the media.  Quick, someone check Tom Tancredo’s whereabouts.

Looming above all this are the career prospects for that shiniest senator of the Gang of Eight, Republican Marco Rubio.  Immigration will figure into his Tuesday response to President Obama’s State of the Union address.  From what I can tell, he won’t fizzle like Bobby Jindal did a few years back.  Rubio seemed to acquit himself well in an interview with the Weekly Standard this past week.

Whether he acknowledges it or not, Senator Rubio remains a very decent prospect for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination. Maybe a time will come to grill him on his record.  But for now I’d encourage you to channel those prosecutorial energies into Karl Rove’s Conservative Victory Project.  Consider its effort to defeat a Republican primary candidate who once declared evolution and the big bang to be “from the pit of Hell.” I suspect this puts Rubio’s “I’m not a scientist, man” comment in a slightly better light.  Such a clear-eyed initiative buoys the conservative hope that leaders of Rubio’s vintage will get better with age.  All the more reason for Republican purists to put down their RINO guns.

Let’s get real about immigration. That 11 million people live a shadow existence in America is inhumane to them, dangerous to us all, and completely unsustainable. No conservative wants an “amnesty” like the ill-considered 1986 reform signed by President Reagan. If it comes down to it, we can deal with President Obama’s obstinate political wrangling when we cross that bridge. Until then, let’s show America what good bipartisanship is made of.


About Lewis W
I earned an M.A. in Christian apologetics at Biola University, and occasionally write on ethics, truth, science and politics.

5 Responses to Immigration reform: of RINOs and Rubio

  1. doug1943 says:

    Very sensible comment. I think a lot of conservatives assume that the rest of the world (which for them is the United States) is pretty much like the people who go to their church. We generalize from our own experience.

    But to win, conservatives have got to understand the concerns of ordinary people who are NOT white, older, well-off, reflexively religious. And they must speak to those concerns.

    I would really hate to have to make the choice between a moderate Democrat who believes in science, and someone like the ignoramus that Karl Rove wants to defeat, even though the ignoramus is a conservative.

    • Always good to hear from you Doug. I found out that the candidate, Broun, is a M.D. I don’t care about his actual views on creation as much as how he expresses them–particularly in a public setting. As a practical political consideration, it’s pretty difficult to get elected to high office after making such an inflammatory remark. I wish him luck if he wins the primary. What ultimately matters is that you can win the election, and work well with the caucus.

  2. Grady says:

    I would like to know what you consider to be living a “shadow existence” when numerous illegal immigrants (certainly not all) benefit from various government programs and subsidies, and when so many can be easily found, whether in California, or Texas, or any number of other states, waiting near a high traffic area for someone to come offer them a cash-only job where they’ll not have to pay taxes. The only time they go into the shadows, so to speak, is when they get the notion that we might actually enforce our immigration laws. I also fail to see how such a calculated existence is inhumane, since these people can leave just as easily as they came. Again, this is all a calculation on their part that they can make a living here without following our laws.

    I’ll admit that I know nothing of the particulars of the current reform talks, but based on what we’ve seen in the past from both sides, I’ll remain skeptical of any legitimate reform taking place and even more skeptical that any enforcement will happen. Reform does need to happen, and I trust Rubio to be a voice of reason, but I can’t blame Republicans for crying RINO when we have the gutless wonder of John Boehner leading the way, along with many others who tend to cave to liberal pressure before they even begin negotiations.

    • Nice link. I don’t want to indulge the sob story that immigration enforcement leads to skipped karate classes. I didn’t have fraudulent access to health, education, and other government benefits in mind, but I think that should be punished. The main concern when I refer to shadow existence is the danger arising from illegals’ hesitance to contact authorities when they should. Some examples include a domestic violence victim, a neighborhood under the thumb of organized crime, children living in overcrowded homes, and workers extorted by their bosses.

      These situations can entail spillover effects of disease or crime to legally residing neighbors. True, the adults understood the risks, but the children, “Dreamers,” remain a salient moral factor. Americans collectively suffer indignity when the rule of law does not reach everyone within our sovereign borders. In that sense, the situation is inhumane. As I’ve mentioned, I think deporting or otherwise coaxing 11 million illegals to leave is logistically impractical and disruptive to our economy. So we need some fresh thinking when approaching reform.

      As for calling someone a RINO, I think the description could be appropriate to some Republicans, depending on the details. But broad brush namecalling is not as helpful as spelling out the actual error.

      • Grady says:

        True, true. All valid points. I would disagree on the one point of economic disruption in the hypothetical case of all of the illegal immigrants leaving (whatever the cause). Sure there would be some minor disruption, but there are enough legal migrant workers, and people who just want a job, that there really shouldn’t be much of a change. The price of lettuce and some other produce might tick up a bit, but it would be minimal. Really, the spike in oil prices every summer has a larger impact than I would expect from a complete lack of illegal work. So assuming that the economy can stand such a change, I also think it is a falsehood to claim that the current thinking is either to deport everyone or “coax” them to leave wilingly. Those in themselves are not the final solution, but how can we expect to make progress towards a comprehensive solution when our current government is failing at both enforcement of current laws and discouraging additional illegal immigration?

        I think that if our government was seriously addressing those two areas, both deporting people known to be here illegally and removing the incentives for living here illegally, you’d see a lot more conservatives willing to negotiate on what to do with those people already here. But to come to some kind of deal before then threatens to be another 1986, even if it does not include amnesty. Without the first two pieces in place, reforms just make this country an even greater magnet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: