If We Don't Fix the Immigration Problem - The Republican Party is Dead
Now before all you noise makers on the extreme right get your knickers in a wad, this is not a story about amnesty. But it is a story about fixing a problem that should have been fixed in the last decade. It is also a story about learning how to communicate our message in a way that doesn't drive away people who should be aligned with our core values and principles. Immigration is a problem Democrats don't want to fix because it is an effective wedge issue to keep Hispanics, who share your same social conservative values, from voting with you.
So called "conservative" organizations like FAIR and NumbersUSA are really left wing environmental and pro-choice backed groups that have figured out they can play your amnesty string and keep you so pissed off at illegal immigrants that now, in some circles, the word Hispanic is equal to "illegal alien".
If the Democrats wanted to solve this problem, they would have pushed through Congressman Luis Gutierrez' reform plan back in 2009. They clearly could have passed it in the House and Senate without one single Republican vote. But they did not. Why? Because it is a winning strategy for Democrats to use against Republicans.
Recently, conservative icon and radio talkshow host Sean Hannity told his listeners that he has "evolved" on immigration. That is what smart people do after a decisive loss. They look at issues that caused their defeat and find ways to fix them. In this election, Republicans only earned the vote of 29% of the Hispanics who voted. It is not because Hispanics want amnesty or abortion or many of the other liberal social policies of the left. It is because our rhetoric drives them away from us.
“We've got to get rid of the immigration issue altogether,” he said. “It’s simple to me to fix it. I think you control the border first. You create a pathway for those people that are here. You don’t say you've got to go home. And that is a position that I've evolved on. Because, you know what, it’s got to be resolved. The majority of people here, if some people have criminal records you can send them home, but if people are here, law-abiding, participating for years, their kids are born here, you know, it’s first secure the border, pathway to citizenship, done, whatever little penalties you want to put in there, if you want, and it’s done.”
Wow, that sounds an awful lot like "The Texas Solution" Plank of the Republican Party of Texas 2012 Platform. While not a perfect solution, The Texas Solution makes steps in the right direction.
Hannity has already caught a lot of heat for his "evolution". But it is a necessary step. For the Republican Party to survive and succeed in this era of changing demographics we must evolve and reshape our message without changing our core values. Fox News reports this is happening among conservatives and other Republicans. I stand alongside Hannity on this issue.
Other Republicans are also coming into this "evolving" process. PressTV reported House Speaker John Boehner is also "evolving" stating that a "comprehensive approach" on the issue was "long overdue."
But winning the Hispanic vote is not just about immigration reform. Like many other minority groups, Hispanics should be aligned with Republicans because many of our core values align. But that is not enough. We cannot simply reach out with an immigration reform olive branch. We must look for ways to make minorities feel wanted in the Republican Party. Those minorities who have come to the Republican Party have done well. Look at Senator Marco Rubio, Senator-Elect Ted Cruz, New Mexico and Governor Susana Martinez. Look at the number of Hispanic state legislators in Texas have been elected these past few years. But when you get to the grassroots level, minorities tell me they don't feel welcomed when the attend Republican meetings and other conservative groups. They don't want to be put on a pedestal, they want to be included.
We have a long way to go to rebuild the Republican brand. The liberal media will hold onto the myths like the "Republican War on Women" and will continue to drive the wedge between Republicans and Blacks, or Republicans and Hispanics. That is just who they are. It is what they are motivated to do. But we must stop giving them soundbites to use against us. Comments from Akin and Mourdock did more to harm Republicans this year because the media will amplify it and keep beating the drum. They completely ignored the insane remarks by Harris County DA Candidate Lloyd Oliver and his war against women.
When the media comes to Tea Party and Republican events, they will look for the most extreme looking or sounding people they can find and make them our icon. We must shift this tone and lead our way out of this. For every idiot they find to quote, we must put forth fifty true Republican voices that speak the truth about what we believe.
President Ronald Reagan believed winning elections required winning the communications war. We have been losing that for a very long time and it is time to take it back. It is time for us to evolve. To evolve into people who communicate our ideas in a way that is not offensive to others. Many times it is not what we say, but how we say it. It is the angry tone or the hostile rhetoric that drives the wedge. We must learn to communicate in a way that conveys our values and principles but in an educational and non-judgmental way.
It is a long road to 2014 and even longer to 2016. We have many battles to fight and win along the way. Let's see if we can win some more allies along the way.