We have two large states going in very different directions that should serve as models for everyone else. California has become known for its anti-business and anti-energy attitudes, and its unemployment is correspondingly high; Texas is aggressively pro-business and leads just about every list of the best states to do business; its unemployment rate is several points lower than California’s. California is nearly bankrupt as its big government model saddles this generation with onerous taxes and future generations with too much debt; Texas keeps its tax rates low and its regulatory environment fair and predictable, and remains strong. Looking at the Republican parties in both states, the California GOP has abandoned the conservative Reagan model in favor of Schwarzenegger-style Democrat-lite policies including amnesty for illegal aliens, while the Texas GOP sticks to solid conservative principles and advocates a secure border along with rational policies to take into account people whose parents brought them into the country illegally. It’s more Reagan than Reagan’s own state party. The California GOP is all but dead, while the Texas GOP continues to flourish and dominate.
It’s fascinating that wherever the Republican Party stands strong while articulating its conservative principles clearly, it tends to succeed, while where it tends to water itself down and mimic the Democrats, it fails. This is true from Louisiana to Texas to Oklahoma to Wisconsin, all over the map, even in traditionally blue states.
Why, then, does the California GOP think that the answer to its own near demise is for the rest of the GOP to do what they’re doing? Just from a purely logical perspective, it makes no sense to expect anything but failure when you imitate failure. There’s no arguing that the current California GOP is anything but a failure.
“All our polling shows immigration is the fourth- or fifth-most-important issue to Hispanic voters,” said Teresa Hernandez, who heads an immigration task force for the active Orange County Lincoln Club. “It’s one of those gateway issues: we want to speak to the Hispanic community on things that we agree on: education reform and jobs. But we need to get immigration off the table.”
As they say on Mythbusters, there’s your problem right there. Immigration is never, ever going to be “off the table.” Ever. No bill or law will ever take it off the table for good. The 1986 amnesty was supposed to do that, but didn’t. Subsequent “reforms” were supposed to do it, but didn’t. We will always, always have immigration as an issue. The border will always be an issue, sanctuary cities will always be an issue, security will always be an issue, visa overstays will always be an issue, etc and so forth. Immigration will always be a live issue, on the table, from now to the first minute after a new bill is passed, and beyond, forever.
Once you realize that, then your view of how to handle it as an issue changes. You can’t truly take it off the table but you can do good things that don’t water down the meaning of citizenship or give those who break the law unfair advantages. First, you’ll realize that the Democrats always want it to be a live issue because they want it as a weapon against Republicans. Whatever is passed, Democrats will immediately say it’s not enough, and they’ll push for something else to put Republicans on defense. From knowing that will flow ideas for how to handle the issue and put Democrats on the defensive. Do Democrats really want any particular reform, or are they just pushing a particular thing for the political advantage it gives them? Do they really want to do anything about securing our communities, for instance, or are they pretending to favor security so they can get something that they want first?
The California GOP isn’t even asking those questions. It’s looking at the issue entirely wrong. It’s demanding that the national party and state parties do something that is killing the GOP in California right now. Like many Republicans all over the country, it’s making an error at the beginning of its thinking on immigration, and from that flow nothing but errors down the line. Only an idiot would listen to them and not take into account the GOP’s experience in Texas, so of course, I expect that an awful lot of Republicans will do just that.