In Raising Immigration, G.O.P. Risks Backlash After Election
By JEREMY W. PETERS OCT. 20, 2014WASHINGTON — New Hampshire has one of the smallest populations of illegal immigrants in the country. Only about 5 percent of its 1.3 million residents are foreign-born, and 3 percent are Hispanic.But tune into the Senate race between Scott P. Brown, the Republican, and Jeanne Shaheen, the Democratic incumbent, and you might think the state shares a border with Mexico, not Canada.When someone called a talk radio show to ask Mr. Brown about global warming the other day, Mr. Brown immediately started talking about border security. “Let me tell you what I believe is a clear and present danger right now,” he said, brushing aside the caller’s concerns about the environment. “I believe that our border is porous.”Footage of agents patrolling the rocky, arid Southwestern landscape is featured in Mr. Brown’s ads — not quite the piney highlands of New Hampshire.
Of course, if there were a lot of illegal aliens in New Hampshire, then of course the NYT would be explaining to New Hampshire voters that it’s far too late to do anything about them. As Christopher Caldwell
noted about a similar issue: “One moves swiftly and imperceptibly from a world in which affirmative action can’t be ended because its beneficiaries are too weak to a world in which it can’t be ended because its beneficiaries are too strong.”
Republicans have long relied on illegal immigration to rally the conservative base, even if the threat seemed more theoretical than tangible in most of the country. But in several of this year’s midterm Senate campaigns — including Arkansas and Kansas, as well as New Hampshire — Republicans’ stance on immigration is posing difficult questions about what the party wants to be in the longer term.Some Republicans are questioning the cost of their focus on immigration. Campaigning on possible threats from undocumented immigrants — similar to claims that President Obama and the Democrats have left the country vulnerable to attacks from Islamic terrorists and the Ebola virus — may backfire after November.
So, Republicans, stop worrying about the long term effects of immigration policy and start worrying about the long term effects of immigration politics. Especially, stop it right now in October 2014 when you are playing what appears to be a pretty good hand in the November 2014 elections.
At that point, the party will have to start worrying about its appeal beyond the conservative voters it needs to turn out in midterm elections.“You should never underestimate the ability of the Republicans to screw something up and blow an ideal opportunity,” said Ralph Reed, an influential conservative who has battled with hard-line Republicans to take a more charitable view on immigration.
If you saw “Casino Jack
” with Kevin Spacey as Jack Abramoff, you’ll remember Ralph Reed as Abramoff’s partner in sleaze
. But now he’s Albert Schweitzer because he’s for more immigration.
“There is a sense in which, I think, the overwhelming desire to gain control of the Senate has kind of so fixated the party’s strategic brain trust that trying to get a hearing on long-term strategic issues doesn’t seem to be possible at the moment,” he said.
Hey, Ralph, “Republican brain trust” is my line.