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Legislating so your children can get elected

Ron Brownstein explains why the Arizona immigration law is bad for the Republican Party:

In a nation that is more than one-third minority, nearly 90 percent of McCain's votes in the 2008 presidential election came from whites. That exclusionary posture could expose the GOP to long-term political danger. Although Hispanics are now one-sixth of the U.S. population, they constitute one-fifth of all 10-year-olds and one-fourth of 1-year-olds.

Those kids are hearing about the Republican Party and the Arizona law now. That leaves a lot of time between now and voting age for the Republican Party to make amends. But time passes quickly, and amends are hard to make...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 3, 2010; 5:00 PM ET
 
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Comments

At that rate, Republicans are very soon going to need upwards of 2/3 of the Anglo vote to overcome their deficit among Latino and African-American voters.

That's a problem, because Democrats seem to have a pretty solid base of around 40% of white voters in national elections.

Posted by: massappeal1 | May 3, 2010 5:31 PM | Report abuse

While I'm sure Ron Brownstein is honestly concerned for the future of the Republican party, I'm not sure he's write. Jim Crow laws were enacted by Southern Democrats. Bull Connor was a Democrat. Geroge Wallace was a Democrat. A Democrat who insisted; "Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever". JFK and Al Gore, Sr. both voted against the Civil Rights act. Democratic senator Robert Byrd was a member of the KKK. Back in late 19th and early 20th century, the Democratic party proudly referred to itself as "The White Man's Party".

So I'm not sure how long any give Republican position on immigration, much less an anti-illegal-immigration movement in one state, will have on the future electoral prospects of Republicans.

And, if Republicans do hurt themselves and become a permanent, out-of-power party, is Ron Brownstein really going to cry about it?

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | May 3, 2010 5:34 PM | Report abuse

"While I'm sure Ron Brownstein is honestly concerned for the future of the Republican party, I'm not sure he's write. Jim Crow laws were enacted by Southern Democrats. Bull Connor was a Democrat. Geroge Wallace was a Democrat. A Democrat who insisted; "Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever". JFK and Al Gore, Sr. both voted against the Civil Rights act. Democratic senator Robert Byrd was a member of the KKK. Back in late 19th and early 20th century, the Democratic party proudly referred to itself as "The White Man's Party".

So I'm not sure how long any give Republican position on immigration, much less an anti-illegal-immigration movement in one state, will have on the future electoral prospects of Republicans."

The Democratic party was host to all those individuals and their actions. It was also host to Truman ending segregation in the military and the civil rights legislation signed in the 1960s by LBJ. It also became less about what those people stood for over time (which is presumably why the chronology included in your account stops in the early 1960s). [And, since this is about two parties, we can also talk about the movement of the GOP on this issue, from one with a vibrant liberal/moderate wing on race to one less balanced and more geographically stationed].

The threat to the GOP is that they'll end up caught in a situation where there is a lack of internal tension and that they don't change over time (or if they change over time, it'll be in a direction that merely buttresses the policy stance putting them in dire straights in the first place). [And, to mirror the above, the threat is also that the other party will take the smarter strategic stance.]

Posted by: y2josh_us | May 3, 2010 5:48 PM | Report abuse

Kevin_Willis, I would note that 90% of the "southern democrats" that stayed in office eventually changed to republicans:

Trent Lott
Richard Shelby
Strom Thurmond
Jesse Helms
Sonny Purdue
Parker Griffith
etc.

So associating the current democratic party with segregation and the modern republican party as the party of racial tolerance and economic and social justice for minorities is totally bassackwards. Republicans (in AZ and those that support that onerous new law) are showing themselves to be the party of nativism and creeping up on being more the party of racism and white privilege.

Posted by: srw3 | May 3, 2010 5:58 PM | Report abuse

@Kevin_Willis, good summary of the Democratic Party's segregationist past.

What's of note for our times is this: Beginning in the 1930s and 40s and culminating with the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the Democratic Party tore itself apart to become the party of civil rights.

As Lyndon Johnson correctly predicted, this resulted in Democrats losing the South for a generation (though it was a gradual process).

Also in 1965 the Democrats passed the Immigration and Nationality Act, dismantling the racist immigration system established in 1924 and changing the demographic future of the country.

If Republicans continue to be the party of nativism, then they may lose the Southwest for the next generation.

Posted by: massappeal1 | May 3, 2010 6:45 PM | Report abuse

I'll just chime in to say that while I'm not going to shed any tears if the Republicans work their way into permanent minority status, I wish it wasn't so. There was a time when I would have said that I wouldn't mind if, say, John McCain had reached higher office. I don't like that I feel like there's a party that's just ok and a party that's packed with insanity. In a better world I would probably still disagree with most Republican positions, but at least I'd feel like there was a good debate to be had and progress to be made. As it is I'm happy for them to alienate the future majority ethnic group because I'm afraid of what happens when they're in charge.

Posted by: MosBen | May 3, 2010 7:46 PM | Report abuse

Regardless, Ezra, you should say so that our SONS can get elected- it's still impossible for women out there- they make up only 52% of the population and have yet to have a president, vice president and make up a serious minority of governors, senators and congresswomen, we haven't even had a female mayor here in NYC.

Posted by: NYClefty | May 3, 2010 8:08 PM | Report abuse

According to Pew Research Center:

"The non-Hispanic white population will increase more slowly than other racial and ethnic groups; whites will become a minority (47%) by 2050."

at: http://pewsocialtrends.org/pubs/703/population-projections-united-states

Posted by: RichardHSerlin | May 3, 2010 8:16 PM | Report abuse

All said with 20/20 hindsight. To assume the Republican party will be the same party in 20 years is a big assumption. Or that every unappealing position will be as electorally poisonous as we want it to be.

The reality is that electoral defeat will change policy, over time. And that then becomes part of the existing political landscape. The history of the Democrats is a perfect example of that. By 2030, the Republicans could well be the party of open borders and a flat 8% tax.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | May 3, 2010 11:08 PM | Report abuse

@ Kevin_Willis, I wouldn't assume the Republican party will be the same party in 20 years. In fact, there's a decent chance that we may look back on 2009-2010 as an outlier moment for the party.

That said, I think Brownstein points out a real danger for the Republican party.

To look at the analogy of the Democratic party since World War II:

*In 1948, the party puts a civil rights plank in its national platform and the Dixiecrats walk out, beginning the exodus of segregationists from the party.

*Nearly 20 years later the Civil Rights Act ('64) and Voting Rights Act ('65) are passed---with significant Republican support, but mostly identified with LBJ and the Democrats.

*In 1994 Republicans retake the House for the first time in 40 years following the leadership of Newt Gingrich (R-GA).

*When Republicans sweep to power in 2000, their leadership is almost exclusively Southern, and the South is the party's strongest base of support.

The danger for Republicans today is that their collapse of support for comprehensive immigration reform is akin to the Democrats' position in the 1960s---a key moment in the party's and the nation's history that then plays a major factor in determining the direction of the party for the next generation.

I'm not a Republican so it's not my problem. If I were, I like to think I'd consider it a major problem for the party.

I also like to think that I'd then be part of a solution that leads to a future Republican party that does what the Texas Republican party did in the 1990s---compete for (and win!) a significant percentage of Latino votes. Gov. George W. Bush and his allies did that by demonstrating they took the values and interests of Hispanic voters seriously, and made them part of the party's governing agenda.

Posted by: massappeal1 | May 4, 2010 6:29 AM | Report abuse

@MassAppeal: "I'm not a Republican so it's not my problem. If I were, I like to think I'd consider it a major problem for the party"

I am a Republican, but it's not really my problem, either. I'm mainly a Republican so I can vote against Democrats, and even if the Republican party goes away, there will probably always be a way to vote against Democrats. Even if I'm voting for the Green party.

"In fact, there's a decent chance that we may look back on 2009-2010 as an outlier moment for the party"

Especially on certain issues. There will always be areas of distinction to be drawn--otherwise, what do candidates run on? But it's unlikely that the current Arizona movement will be anything but dismissed as the over-reactions of a regional faction of the party. In 20 years.

"George W. Bush and his allies did that by demonstrating they took the values and interests of Hispanic voters seriously, and made them part of the party's governing agenda."

And Republicans can do that, and the Arizona strategy is not the way. But they also have to walk the line. They cannot appear to be for amnesty, or amnesty-light.

The smartest thing Republicans could do for the long term is get behind the current Democratic proposal for immigration reform 100% (with minor modifications), so it's a unified effort. But I don't see the Republicans in Washington acting in a way that reflects long term thinking.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | May 4, 2010 8:33 AM | Report abuse

That is why the time is right to have a vote in the Senate on immigration reform before the Nov elections. It will force the Republicans to show their true colors and the Hispanics will take note.
Framed as a national security, economic and civil rights issue, immigration reform could be a win for the Dems. If the Republicans oppose immigration reform, they will be relegated to long-term minority status.

Posted by: mehuwss | May 4, 2010 9:16 AM | Report abuse

@mehuwss: "If the Republicans oppose immigration reform, they will be relegated to long-term minority status."

This is wishful thinking. Democrats maintained power and won the presidency repeatedly during the time period that they went from being the party of segregation and discrimination to the party of civil rights. A single election cycle that replaces Republicans in the leadership could make it a strategically different party (even if not substantially different on policy) which changes how candidates are run, and thus changes the potential for election.

To assume that any single issue is going to relegate either party to long term minority status is to ignore the lessons of history. Anti-incumbency is often a factor, irrespective of what the issues were in the last election cycle. Even Hispanics and African-American can vote against incumbents (or not show up to vote) if promises aren't kept or if the economy goes south (or further south).

Permanent minority status for your ideological opponents is almost always wishful thinking.

BTW, "It will force the Republicans to show their true colors and the Hispanics will take note"? Take note of what? Republicans support for secure borders and opposition to giving illegal immigrants amnesty? I suppose most legal immigrants support amnesty for illegals, but I don't imagine they all do. Do they all support open borders? I dunno. Maybe so. But do they support amnesty, or open borders, to such an extent that it's going to effect how they and their children vote for generations?

I'm not so sure about that. Maybe, but I think it's a large assumption.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | May 4, 2010 9:42 AM | Report abuse

Hispanics will vote for the best available candidate based on a variety of real issues not on emotions. The democrat attempts to fuel racial hatred between whites and hispanics is a waste of time. Blacks are the only ones that care about such issues and they already vote 99% democrat. The only voting block you will see much movement on is the whites that are disgusted with this behavior.

Posted by: peterg73 | May 5, 2010 9:29 AM | Report abuse

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