Thursday, February 26, 2009

Did fighting immigration "reform" really hurt the GOP?

I really don't think so.

Over at On Tap, they reviewed the Bush presidency about a month ago, laying out several observations of what was good and (mostly) what was bad over the last 8 years. In their assessment of his domestic reforms, they claim that the Republican's scuttling of the McCain-Kennedy immigration "reform" bill (a.k.a. amnesty 2008) quite possibly did lasting damage to the GOP. I strongly disagreed, and left the following comment explaining why.
[F]ighting immigration reform is one of the few actions the GOP got right in 2008. It reminded Americans that the US is an actual country with an actual ability to regulate its borders. Advocates for the McCain-Kennedy bill say that the GOP has to embrace effectively untrammeled immigration if it's to survive. America is browning (thanks, in large part, to illegal immigration) and the GOP has to get brown to survive. But this is nonsense.

The idea of a racially diverse GOP -- as long as the GOP remains a conservative (and not in the Bush sense) party -- is a chimera. The idea that, by letting in millions of people every year from countries who have absolutely no record of limited government but who do have a long memory of dependence on the state is somehow going to help a major party committed to limited government is, quite frankly, absurd. Historically, only one culture has had any real appreciation for limited government: White, Anglo-Saxon culture. Consequently, England (until WWI) and America (until the New Deal) were really the only countries with strong traditions of limited government. America incorporated foreigners from places that lacked that commitment, but Americans of the past understood that their ability to assimilate such foreigners wasn't unlimited, and they more or less cut off immigration for a generation to give the new arrivals time to assimilate and the country time to acculturate them. At first, the foreigners were stalwart Democrats (just like most of today's immigrants), but as time went on and they assimilated, many of them came to appreciate the Anglo-Saxon tradition of limited government. This was only possible because there weren't any more immigrants coming in, however.

Now McCain-Kennedy would have made sure that the kind of assimilation that the last massive wave of immigrants (1900-1920) went through wouldn't happen. It would have allowed today's immigrants -- who often tend to conspicuously lack the urge to assimilate that previous waves of immigrants had -- to continue coming and would have made a mockery of immigration enforcement regimes with its work permit provisions. It, not the 2008 GOP's rejection of it, would have permanently destroyed the Republican Party. It would have made Republicans obsolete, or it would have morphed the GOP into something very like the Democrats of today (which would have effectively been the same thing).

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