The Republican Party is despised, rejected, a party of sorrows, and its 2012 candidates acquainted with grief (with apologies to Isaiah and George Frederick Handel). But now some Republicans at last want to face that reality and make some changes. I call them the Republicans Who Can Count.
The Republicans Who Can’t Count were on full display in 2012. Presidential nominee Mitt Romney ran the most vitriolic anti-immigrant campaign in the primaries; Asian and Latino turnout and straight ticket Democratic voting in the general election was the highest in history. Some GOP legislators in battleground states thought the way to victory was to repress minority voting; African Americans turned out in states like Ohio and Florida at historical records. GOP pollsters modeled a voter turnout that did not exist and ended up looking like fools on election day when a flood of Democrats showed up and dealt their candidates defeat after defeat.
Now the Republicans who can count are moving to take over the party with a mission to stop alienating the fastest growing parts of the American electorate, and also to stop running fringe candidates whose only goal seems to be to turn off moderate voters.
The bipartisan immigrant reform movement is a perfect example. While immigration reform will not solve all the Republican problems with Asian and Latino voters, its passage is vital to beginning to rebuild. The bipartisan immigration reform plan developed by eight US Senators is exactly what the GOP needs to even begin reversing its 2012 fiasco.
First, it will legalize people who are already here and are not going home. Some Republicans denounce this as amnesty, but I don’t see any of them in the fields picking the crops. Illegal immigrants do that work; and for all the hysteria about amnesty, we’d have no fruits and vegetables without them.
Immigration reform must include a guest worker program that allows these people to work legally. But that goes hand in hand with the second element, actually fixing the border. Enforcement has improved in the past half dozen years, the Mexican economy is improving and birthrates are down. Guest workers would be able to cross the border freely and that would reduce pressure for illegal immigration.
But Republicans are right to insist of real border security before we grant the newly legalized a path to citizenship. The last time we tried immigration reform in 1986, we made millions of people legal but did not solve the border problem; that simply led to millions more illegals coming across the border. That needs to end.
Immigration reform is the kind of “win win” that Republicans desperately need. A recent Gallup Poll shows that 72 percent of Americans support an eventual path to citizenship that would allow currently illegal immigrants a chance to become legal residents; 71 percent agree on increased visas for high skilled foreigners; 68 percent want beefed up border security; and a whopping 85 percent agree that employers ought to be made to verify that new hires are legal. Immigration reform is going to pass because the American people want it.
Immigration reform only opens the door for Republican candidates to begin a conversation with newly enfranchised Asian and Latino voters, but as the Romney campaign so clearly demonstrated, and Republicans who can count now fully understand, without a larger share of this growing electorate no Republican will ever again be elected President of the United States.
There is another reason to get smart with the electoral math. President Obama is going very far to the left in his second term. Under the guise of fighting climate change, he intends to impose command and control on much of the nation’s economic activity. When fully implemented, Obama care will construct a far more socialistic health care system than even exists today in much of Europe. And finally, the great legacy of the Obama years will be large scale confiscation of firearms from private hands, making us like Britain or Australia when it comes to availability of guns.
None of this can happen, though, without a new Supreme Court, and Obama is just one seat away from a liberal majority on the Supreme Court that would, for instance, repeal the recently established individual right to bear firearms in the Second Amendment.
The need to thwart Obama’s thrust to the left is becoming apparent to those Republicans who can count. This is why Karl Rove and other GOP money men are putting together major dollars to end the nomination of the kind of Tea Party infused candidates who blew five U.S. Senate seats in 2010 and 2112.
The challenge for Republicans as they crawl out of the ashes of the 2012 defeats is pretty clear: learn how to count or become even more acquainted with grief.