Elephants Can Forget—GOP Loyalists Forgetting Years Of McCain Abuse
science has proven the old adage
Forget" to be largely true—if exaggerated. A
circus elephant will remember an abusive trainer for
must not have had this characteristic in mind when he
chose that animal to represent the GOP. When
Republican activists are in the presence of
John McCain—without doubt their
biggest abuser on the issue of immigration——they seem
to be blocking the issue out of their mind.
primaries, all the presidential candidates attacked John
McCain for his sponsorship for amnesty for illegal
aliens; and argued amongst each other over who was
tougher. This nearly tanked McCain`s campaign. He only
recovered when he said he would
"secure the border first" and oppose amnesty. By 2008, all the
candidates—including McCain—made immigration a top
priority with tough rhetoric and campaign ads.
Exit and entry polls of Republican voters—including
McCain supporters—saw immigration at or near the top of
Tom Tancredo dropped out of the race right before
he was able to say that he had accomplished of the goal
of putting immigration at the center of the campaign.
The New Yorker declared
as an "ideological touchstone" for the party. [Return
of the Nativist, By Ryan Lizza,
At the Republican Convention, however, there was absolutely no inkling
that immigration was ever an issue. The closest any of
the speakers came to mentioning it was when the priest
who gave the
invocation on the 4th said to pray extra
hard for "the migrant" (The following night, a
Rabbi gave an invocation that thanked God for our
diversity) and John McCain`s
platitude in his acceptance speech that everyone
boy whose descendents [sic]arrived
migrant workers" are
dug real deep, it was hard to find any delegate who
cared about immigration.
Tim Carney of the
Evans Novak report told me he asked over a hundred
delegates what the most important issues to them were,
and not one said immigration. Literally all of them said
National Security, with the
social issues ccoming up next.
I was able
to find a few delegates who saw immigration as a top
issue, but only by seeking them out based on their
buttons. A number of Paul, and even
Romney delegates sported low key
Right" buttons. When I spoke to them they were
McCain`s amnesty, and said they would sit out the
other side of the spectrum, there were many wearing
"Hispanics Unidos Con McCain"
buttons. They all said how
terrible the GOP`s flirtation with
nativism was in the last few years, but they felt
that McCain has steered the party back in the right
direction. When I asked about McCain`s abysmal polls
with Hispanics, they blamed it on the
other nativists in the party who have brought down
McCain, and expected his numbers to recover once voters
were clear on where he stands.
There are a
few factors that make this picture a little less gloomy.
While many of the delegates were given their position
due to their activism, many were part of the
big donors and not truly representative of the base.
Those who were insufficiently enthusiastic for McCain
would have been stripped of their privileges. And all
delegates were given talking points by the party for
what to say when talking to reporters.
actually pressed them, almost all were against his
immigration platform. But they were quick to remind me
worse Obama is—and how we can`t allow him to be
elected. They usually reminded me that
Palin negated any of McCain`s shortcomings.
we really don`t know much about what Palin thinks about
immigration. Alaska doesn`t have many immigrants, and so
she hasn`t really touched on the issue. There is no
record of her saying anything. The extent of her record
is not signing (but not vetoing) a law that pre-empted
the REAL ID act—which is not necessarily a good thing.
to her support of
Buchanan as reason to think she is a restrictionist.
But given her vocal backing of both the War in Iraq as
well as increased confrontation with Putin, there`s no
reason to think she`s signed on to the entire Buchanan
is that I have no clue what Palin
really thinks about immigration. What I do know is
that, for the next 60 days, she will repeat the McCain
line on immigration. If McCain gets elected, he
amnesty and she will not be able to oppose it. Anyway,
it`s hard to believe that he will listen to her even if
chosen Pawlenty or Romney, who both been vocal and
relatively good on the issue, then it could be perceived
as throwing a bone to the
restrictionists. But whatever Palin`s merits—and she
has many—McCain was not thinking about appeasing
immigration hawks when he made the choice.
to the delegates inside the convention, there were
plenty of protestors outside—and not all of them were
from the Left. One of them recognized me from my
VDARE.COM column and was with a relatively large
anti-immigration activists. However, like all Right
at the convention, all they did is wave
Ron Paul signs. The press and delegates were
completely oblivious that their opposition to McCain was
in large part due to his
As much as
I like Ron Paul,
patriotic immigration reformers need to look for
others to champion their cause. Like the rest of the
GOP, he put out ads
touting his border security credentials during the
primaries, but has been completely silent on the issue
since then—not mentioning it in his speeches or book. He
taken the wrong side on the SAVE Act and E-Verify.
fact that the GOP faithful are not questioning McCain
now, mean that an amnesty will be inevitable if he
Fortunately, no. So long as McCain isn`t in the room,
the GOP is still acting somewhat sensibly.
Republican platform is a significant improvement over
2004`s two paragraph immigration plank which called for
a temporary worker program that
workers who currently hold jobs to
come out of the shadows and to
participate legally in
and "apply for
platform removes those provisions. And there is
absolutely nothing objectionable policy-wise. It says
"must serve the national interest,"
and it calls for cutting funds for
sanctuary cities, enacting E-verify nationwide,
denying benefits—specifically social security,
tuition, and driver`s licenses—to illegal aliens,
expediting deportations, and allowing for increased
cooperation between state, local, and federal law
attempts to define amnesty, end
birthright citizenship (even for
workers,") and pardon
Ramos and Compean did not make the final cut, the
platform is still a victory—albeit small and symbolic.
McCain`s primary victory, the grassroots has still
blocked attempts to reintroduce AgJobs and kill
E-Verify. The patriotic immigration reform movement has
already had its greatest electoral victory in years when
Jason Chaffetz beat pro-amnesty Chris Cannon in the
GOP primary. Hazleton Mayor
Lou Barletta looks
poised to defeat Paul Kanjorski; and there are a
number of other Congressional races where immigration
control may be a winning issue.
But if they
win enough congressional (and
local) victories, and keep the heat on whoever the
next president is, they can still make serious progress.
Marcus Epstein [send
him mail] is the founder of the
Robert A Taft Club and the executive director of the
Team America PAC. A selection of his articles can be
views he expresses are his own.