Missing from the ongoing debate over immigration reform is the wing of the Republican Party that used to advocate for an economic policy that was, broadly speaking, in the national interest.
Do not mistake this as a call for a rise of neo-Know Nothings. It isn't. One can be a patriot without being a bigot.
Ask yourself the following question. What is more important: the 7.6 percent unemployment rate, which includes 10 million Americans under the age of 25, or the millions of illegal immigrants — nobody has an exact count — who would be legalized under the Senate-passed immigration reform bill?
It is imprudent, to say the least, for the GOP — having lost the popular vote for president in four of the last five elections — to think that granting legal status and thus adding millions to the electoral rolls suddenly will reverse the party's failure to win a governing majority.
Applying the same solution of mass legalization to the party's struggles with young Americans would be akin to lowering the voting age, as if that somehow would make up the difference.
There is no doubt that the Republican Party must be a big-tent party with genuine outreach to ethnic, racial and religious minorities. But correcting this doesn't require the shameful pandering that many proponents of the current immigration reform plan are engaging in with their sudden evolution to a position that is tantamount to amnesty. In fact, lost in this discussion is the fact that Republicans have more high-profile Hispanic officeholders than Democrats.
Moreover, this sort of pandering simply is not necessary, according to new research that challenges the popular notion of Republicans losing because of emerging Hispanic demographics.
In his research, Sean Trende, co-author of “The Almanac of American Politics,' showed that the problem is the 6.1 million Americans of largely working-class backgrounds who are sitting on the sidelines and not voting.
These are the sort of voters who in past presidential elections were drawn to Ross Perot and Pat Buchanan, but today find themselves opposed to both the Democrats' high-liberalism and the Republicans' perceived domination by big business and Wall Street — the two interests that coincidentally stand to benefit the most from immigration reform.
To win back these lost voters — who are more or less center-right, out of instinct if not ideology — Republicans would be wise to consider lessons from Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, who took their respective conservative parties out of the political wilderness and into government after years of poor showings at the ballot box.
These revivals required a focus on tone and messaging, as well as a new electoral playbook that factors in the political realities of the second decade of the 21st century, rather than halcyon days of yore.
Let's also be honest: The immigration problem only exists because too many Americans decide going without work is better than picking crops from farm fields at minimum wage.
The broader problem is that both society and government look down upon farmhands, rewarding those who refuse to take a job that pays $7 per hour.
If those who receive welfare and other public assistance programs were put in work programs, there wouldn't be jobs for those who were in the United States illegally.