The Future of the Republican Party Hangs in the Balance
As the delegates to the Texas Republican State Convention gather to craft the Party’s message for the general election cycle, no issue seems to animate the base more than illegal immigration. While the delegates will discuss a number of important and complex issues, this week, the “main stage” debate will center on whether or not we should remove the guest-worker language from the Party Platform.
The guest-worker component, or "The Texas Solution," as it has been called, was added to the Party Platform just two years ago after a healthy conversation among various factions of the Texas GOP. After great deliberation, and sometimes raucous debate, the proponents of The Texas Solution prevailed by a slim, yet powerful, margin.
The resulting shockwaves reverberated through Austin all the way to Washington. Texas, one of the most conservative states in the Union, with the most robust Tea Party organization in the country, had spoken. The Texas Republican Party, with a single vote, had proclaimed to the Nation that it was time to put into action the Hispanic outreach effort that it had long discussed but never implemented.
Many in Texas and throughout the country were caught off guard by the move.
The media, who are often eager to malign conservatives as reactionary bigots, could not explain how Republicans had taken such a dramatic step in such a short period of time. More importantly, Democrats were left dumbfounded as one of their strongest talking points had been ripped from their quiver. Many forward-thinking Texas conservatives rejoiced at the move because it signaled the new beginning that so many were asking for with respect to the complex issue of illegal immigration. It became clear that Texas was serious about engaging Hispanics in new and meaningful ways.
The demographics are clear. Texas will be a plurality Hispanic state within six years. It will be a majority Hispanic state within twenty-five years. As well, a majority of Hispanics in Texas today are under the age of 18 and are native born. This means that within two four-year election cycles, unless we as Republicans are able to capture a significant proportion of the Hispanic vote, our Party will perish.
There is a reason that Battleground Texas has targeted Texas. It is because they know that the demographics are changing at such a rapid pace that unless we as Republicans can change the tide with respect to the Hispanic vote, Democrats will control the political infrastructure within the decade. This is not a hell, fire and brimstone Sunday sermon meant to scare folks. These are the facts. If we lose the Hispanic vote, we will never see a Republican in the Governor’s Mansion or the White House for the rest of our lives.
Now, as the movement conservatives have strengthened their position within the Party, there are those who would seek to reverse the progress that has been made. In the name of “border security” and in opposition to “amnesty,” some members of our great and diverse Party have proposed that The Texas Solution be deleted in its entirety and that the Texas Republican Party Platform revert to an enforcement-only “deport them all” position. The primary argument posited is that until there is “absolute border security,” a guest-worker plan should not be considered. Further, the opponents to the guest-worker plan perceive any form of legal status to be “default amnesty.”
As an elected representative, let me be perfectly clear: I oppose amnesty in any form, am strongly in favor of and shall support the Rule of Law, have no interest in rewarding those who have abrogated our Nation’s laws, and demand that we keep our borders secure so that we can protect American citizens. Nearly all Republicans support these basic tenets. But, I have also been elected to find solutions to our State’s problems and I do not believe that rounding up eleven million unauthorized residents and deporting them to their country of origin is good policy, or even feasible.
Moreover if we reverse course and remove The Texas Solution from the Party Platform, I believe the following will result:
- We will play directly into the media’s perception of conservatives as regressive, mean-spirited, bigots. And rest assured, their coverage of the Republican Party for this election cycle will be colored by this perception.The Democrats will once again have a club with which they will bludgeon us regarding Hispanic outreach. They want nothing more than to point to us and say “See, we told you so. Republicans don’t like you.”
- Hispanics will perceive the move as yet another data point that Republicans do not appreciate people of color and that they are unwelcome in our Party. It may not be the straw that breaks the camel’s back, but it is nevertheless one more piece of straw.
- The rest of the Nation’s conservatives will follow suit. As goes Texas, so goes America.
- It will be much more difficult for Hispanic Republicans like me to reach out to and attract new Hispanic voters for the Party.
Friends, I understand the depth and sincerity of your concerns. Illegal immigration is a serious problem with very real adverse repercussions for all Texans. I also acknowledge and accept that we as Texans work hard and play by the rules every day and that it just feels wrong and unfair that a group of people who have broken the law have taken advantage of our generosity and American largesse.
But I plead with you, we have to be thoughtful here and we must look for common-sense solutions today rather than reversing course midstream. We have to find a compromise that works for all Republicans. If we remove The Texas Solution, we will put the Party in great peril. The Future of the Republican Party hangs in the balance. Stand with me and keep The Texas Solution.