The GOP and Immigration: Death by Pandering

Those who advise the GOP to "get right" with Hispanics by supporting the Senate's massive immigration bill never consider the downside of traducing principles in the hope of gaining votes. Perhaps it can be said of "death by pandering", as the Washington Post' Kathleen Parker suggests is the case with "principled martyrs," that, "[P]rincipled or not, you're still dead in the end."

But death by pandering strips you of both your integrity and your honor. Worse, it doesn't give you the opportunity to make your case and try to gain supporters for your perspective.

In essence, it is just giving up.

And if a major political party just gives up on its legitimate view of the public interest, the American people will, understandably, give up on that political party.

One of the few establishment Republicans to understand this is Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Idaho). In an exchange on "Meet the Press", Rep. Labrador had an exchange with his host that is worth quoting at some length:

GREGORY: Well, and Congressman, there is you, somebody who's been pushing — I mean, you're an immigration lawyer. You've been pushing for reform. I'll paraphrase something that you were quoted as saying in June in the National Journal, that we've got to fix the system and that Hispanics essentially have stopped listening to Republicans. Isn't that a bigger concern than some of these policy differences that you have with David Brooks or others who would support the Senate legislation?

REP. LABRADOR: I actually think if we don't do it right politically it's going to be the death of the Republican Party. If we do it right, I think it's going to be good for us. But if we don't do it right, what's going to happen is that we're going to lose our base because we're still going to have a large number of illegal immigrants coming into the United States. And the Hispanic community is not going to listen to us because they're going to always listen to, at this point, to the people that are offering more, that are offering a faster pathway to citizenship, all those things. So, I think we lose on both grounds if we don't do it right.

Rep. Labrador's view is that adopting the Democrats' immigration policies is a dire threat to the continued viability of the Republican Party, but only "if we don't do it right".

What does "doing it right" mean?

Clearly supporting policy that effectively curbs future illegal immigration, because with the legislation as written, he says "we're still going to have a large number of illegal immigrants coming into the United States." And if that happens, as it is likely to as the Senate bill now stands, and the GOP helps make it law, "we're going to lose our base."

He might well add the respect and support of all those Americans who want immigration reform to actually accomplish one of its primary reasons for existence — not adding new generations of millions of illegal aliens down the road.

In another setting, Rep. Labrador answered a criticism of his views by saying, "You're saying that the only way the Republican Party can win is by accepting an immigration reform bill that is not fully completed. I don't think that's the right way to do it. We do the right policy and the politics will follow."

Of course in order to do that, you have to have the courage of your convictions. That's two traits, not one: convictions and the courage to act on them.

Next: The GOP and Immigration: Having the Courage of Your Convictions