Tuesday, February 24, 2009

At What Price?

National Review is my favorite political magazine. I don’t agree with everything in it, but it has such a broad range of opinion — libertarians, social conservatives, fiscal conservatives, First and Second Amendment specialists, etc. — that full agreement would be unlikely.

The February 23rd issue features an article about the immigration issue. It’s by Richard Nadler, and is entitled “At What Cost?”. Mr. Nadler’s contention is that “[c]onservatives should rethink their opposition to ‘comprehensive’ immigration reform”.

This is not a new argument, and there are even certain subsets of conservatism — for example, at the Wall Street Journal — that flirt with an “open borders” philosophy. But it’s rare for National Review to feature such an opinion, and even rarer for me to feel compelled to comment.

Mr. Nadler’s contention is that the Republican Party is doing itself harm by allowing the “border enforcement” faction to set policy:

Conservatives should stop trying to remove 12 million illegal aliens from American soil, either by rounding them up or by inducing them to “self-deport.” In the Southwest, the West, the Northeast, and Florida, attempts to remove illegals have diminished the conservative movement, transforming a governing majority into a structural minority. To continue the effort will damage the conservative cause even more among Hispanics and entrepreneurs.

He then cites the three “permanent interests” that are involved in the issue: border security, employment demands, and immigrants’ rights lobbies. His assertion is that “enforcement first” conservatives emphasize the first of these and neglect the other two, to the electoral disadvantage of the Republican party.

The putative solution is to embrace “comprehensive immigration reform”:
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These interests are permanent, and formidable. “Comprehensive” immigration reform was premised on the assumption that any major legislative attempt to satisfy one of these interests must address all three. In 2006, and again in 2007, the Bush administration championed a version of comprehensive reform; Senate Republicans blocked it. Opponents, primarily conservatives, insisted that immigration reform address border security first or exclusively.

Partisans of cross-border labor and immigrant rights reciprocated in kind, rejecting full-spectrum conservative candidates who opposed comprehensive immigration reform in favor of full-spectrum liberals who supported it. In 2008, advocates of comprehensive immigration reform gained, on net, at least 14 partisans in the House and four in the Senate. All are Democrats.

The author goes on to outline the decline in the Republican share of the Hispanic vote that the party has experienced since 2004. He points out that conservative social values and devout Christian beliefs are embraced by a larger proportion of Hispanic Americans than the is true of the rest of the population.

Thus conservatives need to wake up and realize their mistake:

Conservatives have been obtuse to the depth of Hispanic resistance to the removal of illegals. Roughly 30 million resident Hispanics are American citizens — triple the number of Hispanic illegals. Eleven million Hispanics voted in 2008, a 38 percent increase from 2004. Among adult Hispanic citizens, the Pew Hispanic Center records that 41 percent fear a deportation action against a friend or family member. Roughly one Hispanic in four participated in a demonstration or rally in behalf of immigrants over the past year. [emphasis added]

This is where I part company with Mr. Nadler. One certainly has sympathy with people whose family members have violated the law and risk punishment as a result. But why is the proposed solution to abolish the law?

If a general amnesty for those who broke the law is warranted on principle, let him make the case. But the reason why such a draconian step is necessary is that…

…it would help more Republicans get elected.

Excuse me, sir, but that’s not a good enough reason. What other principles should be abandoned by Republicans in order to gain office? Should they support nationalization of the banks? Partial-birth abortion? A tax increase?

Is opposition to massive immigration of unassimilated foreigners a core conservative principle, or not?

If it’s not, then I’ll turn in my conservative card.

I’m already not a Republican, so I might as well stop being a conservative.

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Mr. Nadler goes on to describe the numbers of illegal Hispanic immigrants who are already resident in the United States. Then he says:

The fear and the fury engendered in the broader Hispanic community by conservative efforts to remove illegals has destroyed conservative prospects in the Southwest, weakened them in the West, and wiped them out in New England.

This is not an expression of conservative principle, or a lament about the abandonment of the electorate, or a display of concern for the welfare of the citizens of the United States.

It’s about the declining fortunes of the Republican Party.

Is that really the most important concern of the nation right now?

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Richard Nadler is not wrong about any specific fact. “Opponents of comprehensive immigration reform are sitting on a demographic time bomb”, “[e]mployers resisted mandates to revisit the immigration status of employees in whom they had invested time and training”, and “[p]ractical men of business knew that the availability of low-wage labor in the United States prevented the export of higher value-added tasks in an international workplace.”

These things are true. But drawing the conclusion from them that we should embrace “comprehensive immigration reform” is like saying, “Well, the rapist has already broken into the bedroom and has a knife at my throat, so I might as well offer him a beer and we’ll both enjoy it.”

The biggest problem with “comprehensive” reform is the suspension of disbelief that’s required concerning the “enforcement” portion of the deal.

We are being asked, just as we were in 1986, to trade an amnesty for a promise that from now on the immigration laws of our country will be enforced.

Why should we believe it? We got snookered in 1986, and that was under Reagan. Do we really, really believe that we will do better in 2009, when both houses of Congress and the Presidency are overwhelmingly controlled by Democrats? And not just any Democrats, not the Democrats of the 1980s, but a much more radical bunch, many of whom are in thrall both to corrupt business interests and the Multicultural lobby.

Why will things turn out any different this time?

Are we such fools that we will buy the exact same phony and expensive snake oil that we bought last time?

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Here is Richard Nadler’s conclusion:

At some point, conservatives must reflect on how many allies, and how many issues, we are willing to sacrifice in a fey and futile attempt to get field workers, busboys, and nannies out of the country. The steady drumbeat of restrictionist defeat invites — no, requires — conservatives to revisit a concept we have glibly reviled: comprehensive immigration reform. The relevant question is no longer whether we want it, but what we want from it: what forms of border security, crime control, and employment verification. Every hour we postpone a border reform that respects the interests of employers and Hispanics, our entire agenda suffers.

I propose to reframe the issue in such a way that both the interests of the Republican Party and the interests of the American people will be served.

The essential problem lies in the concept of the United States as a “propositional nation”. This is all well and good, because that is what we are.

But we overlook the importance of tradition and culture at our peril. The proposition of the United States — that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, etc. — can only be realized within a polity that shares a language, a culture, and a set of basic values. It cannot be imposed successfully on a polyglot mishmash. We wish it could be, but it can’t.

The unpleasant truth is this: A propositional nation cannot exist in a multicultural society.

Mr. Nadler cites some statistics: “Arizona is 30 percent Hispanic; California, 36 percent; Texas, 36 percent; New Mexico, 44 percent.” To him, these are arguments that demonstrate the need for Republicans to cater to the interests of Hispanics.

But I’ll draw a different conclusion, and make my own modest proposal.

There is a synchronicity at work here, because the Tenth Amendment Revival movement among the Several States is just now picking up steam, thanks to the financial crisis and the extension of federal hubris. The States that historically consented to become United are belatedly recalling their God-given sovereignty, as recognized by the United States Constitution.

In order to form a more perfect Union, it’s time to consider the wisdom of forming new associations of States. It is our right to do so.

A collection of States in which the vast majority of citizens speak English as their native language would be most welcome. We already have our own customs and mores, and can adhere to those in a spirit of liberty within a framework of self-governance.

The same would be true in those areas which are now mostly under the sway of native Spanish-speakers. They, too, may have their own form of government — as is their God-given right — in the Aztlan Federation, or whatever they choose to call it. They may tax themselves, design their public programs, and form a government that is as virtuous or corrupt as seems appropriate to them.

The rest of the Nation Formerly Known as the United States of America will be a boon for the Republican Party. The GOP, in this new incarnation, might well be the majority party for decades to come in a prosperous, productive, and peaceful Republic.

But this, alas, is too sensible — and too politically incorrect — to happen. It’s just not possible.

But a man can dream, can’t he?


Jungle Jim said...

"there are even certain subsets of conservatism — for example, at the Wall Street Journal — that flirt with an “open borders” philosophy."

Baron, you are a master of understatement. The WSJ's editorial board does more than just flirt with open borders. It is in a comitted relationship with the concept.

I think Nadler and many other people have misinterpreted the results of the 2008 presidential election. McCain did not lose to 0bama on the immigration issue, because the two mens' positions on the matter are virtually identical. If anything, one of the reasons why McCain lost was because he supports open borders. Many Republicans refused to vote for him for that reason.

Moreover, in every poll I have seen, the percentage of Democrats who support or oppose open borders is very close to the percentages of Republicans. This issue cuts across ideological boundaries and party boundaries.

Darrin Hodges said...

"so I might as well stop being a conservative"

You don't need to do that Baron, the Republicans have already done it.

dienw said...

I stopped my subscription to National Review years ago when it caved to Muslim demands that it not advertise two books that criticised Sata... I mean Islam.

Nadler is a fool nor is he a conservative: he is merely a party man. His "for the sake of getting votes" rant can be used just as validly for dropping opposition to abortion, the welfare state and every man a government ward, environmentalism, Islam (remember, over 60% of Muslims voted for Abammy), and any other Democratic policy. Nadler is a Cino as well as a Rino.

spackle said...

I dont have much to say because the Baron said it all. One thing that gets under my skin however is the concept that Mr. Nadler and other "Conservatives" posit is that Conservatism lives or dies by the Republican party. There is no other alternative and that something else might not pop up to take its place.

Most Conservatives are already disgusted with the Republican party and I doubt Michael Steel will do much to allay that disgust. Between the resurgence of states rights and the ire of Conservatives, the Republican party may already be "Doomed to the trash bin of history".

Avery Bullard said...

The only way Hispanics will become pro-GOP is if the GOP supports the ethnic agenda of Hispanics. Nadler pretty much concedes that but says it is just fine. (What about the interests of the GOP's white voter base? I guess those don't matter).

As long as white old stock Americans believe they are part of a proposition nation they have no hope of saving their country. Not only will they become a smaller percentage of the population but they will continue to allow the Nadlers of the world to define conservatism and their nation for them.

(What does Nadler think of Israel's lack of an open borders immigration policy?)

On NR I ended my subscription to the magazine back in the 90s when the neocons gutted attempts to address immigration concerns. I think the famous Peter Brimlow cover story was the final straw for the ideologically open borders neocons and unfortunately WFB knuckled under. After that NR just became an unprovocative cheerleader for the neocon wing of conservatism and the GOP.

Baron Bodissey said...

njartist --

In all fairness to NR, they are trying to run a magazine, and since the cover price isn't enough to make up their production costs, they have to bend under the pressure of advertisers.

It's easy for us to criticize their behavior, because we are immune to such considerations. It's a very cheap operation to maintain a blog, and when PJM pitched us out into the snow it did us no damage to us at all.

But an actual printed magazine is a different proposition. If people were willing to pay $25 an issue, it just might be possible for the mag to be independent of outside pressure. But how many magazines could stay alive doing that?

Baron Bodissey said...

Avery --

I agree on the "make the world safe for democracy" aspects of NR. But they've got far less of that than, say, the Weekly Standard does, and they have in-house writers who disagree -- e.g. Derbyshire.

As for the open-borders idea, that's a mix, too. You will find occasional hardline NR articles about the borders.

But what you won't find is much undiluted Counterjihad thinking. They are, after all, part of the MSM, and are reluctant to let go of the idea of the "moderate Muslim".

To them it's still mostly a "war on terror".

. said...

Wow Baron, I never thought you would be a proponent of a new nation of Aztlan.

Because that appears to me to be what you have proposed.

The only other option I can see to get you to where you want to be is to ethnically cleanse U.S. citizens of Hispanic ancestry from the current boundaries of the nation. And, to your credit, you aren't proposing that.

Of course, what you fail to realize, in your Eastern U.S. xenophobic cocoon, is that Mexican-Americans, Cuban-Americans, Salvadoran-Americans, etc. are within a generation of becoming as much Americans as the Jewish and Italian and Asian immigrants of the early 20th century have become.

Your apparent belief that only European-Americans can be true "Americans" can be impolitely called by its name:


Anonymous said...

The Nation of Atzlan

X said...

Only apparent to you, Gordon...

Profitsbeard said...

Open borders are to the nation what a compromised immune system is to the body:


Not controlling a violent narco-mafia state from spilling its chaos over into your country is suicidal.

Terrorists take advantage of this same short-sighted stupidity and infiltrate along with mere moochers.

Closed borders means national survival.

Baron Bodissey said...

Ah, yes, Nodrog -- I'm a big bad WAYCIST!

Actually, I said "citizens [who] speak English as their native language", which includes 99% of African Americans.

I have often repeated that culture -- including language -- is the important thing. But you must have nodded off duirng those posts.

Also, today's waves of Hispanics are not going to assimilate. They are not required to, and we are now a multilingual nation. You, to use one of CJ's favorite vocabulary-enrichment words, are obfuscating.

If there were a ghost of a chance of assimilation, I would have at least some hope.