In this week’s edition of how just about everyone supports immigration reform, political polar opposites Grover Norquist and Rahm Emanuel appeared at an Atlantic event where they both agreed that House Republicans will eventually get behind immigration reform.
“There will be a strong Republican vote for this,” Norquist, who makes a strong economic case for immigration reform, said. Saying that the anti-reform position is “anti-people,” he added, “every day the Republican caucus is moving towards yes.”
Emanuel agreed—given that Republicans turn away from the vocal minorities opposing immigration reform in the House, and listen to the majority of Americans who want reform to happen.
“Volume does not reflect depth,” Emanuel said. “Leaders in the Republican Party have allowed the screamers … to define who the Republican Party is.” Emanuel is a vivid example of how the politics of the immigration issue have changed. In 2007, then-Congressman Rahm Emanuel said immigration had “emerged as the third rail of American politics.” Now, it’s politically dangerous to be on the wrong side of the immigration issue.
As another odd pairing—Obama campaign manager David Plouffe and McCain/Bush adviser Steven Schmidt—wrote today, that tolerance of the extremist voices in their Party could be disastrous for the GOP.
Plouffe and Schmidt, former nemeses, took to Politico today for a joint op-ed on the political reasons why Republicans must pass immigration reform. In a nutshell:
Until [immigration reform] passes, Hispanic voters will not even listen to what Republicans offer on other issues like the economy and education. As the Republican National Committee rightly concluded in its 2012 post-mortem, “if Hispanics think we do not want them here, they will close their ears to our policies.”
This analysis is spot-on. Immigration is about tone and values: fairness, responsibility, playing by the rules. Most importantly for Republicans in Washington, this debate is about displaying tolerance. Killing immigration reform would be the latest example of a Republican vision for a less open and less tolerant America that is wildly out of touch with voters today.
They’re right. Immigration reform with a path to citizenship isn’t just widely supported by Latino voters. It’s widely supported by Americans, including most Republicans. A GOP that kills reform will repel minority voters for generations, forsaking polling which shows that Republicans can win more Hispanics if they lead on issues like immigration reform. Otherwise—and as Stanford professor Keith Humphreys argued this week—a bleached-out GOP will not be attractive to moderate white voters, either.
By the way, Plouffe and Schmidt offer a damning rebuttal to the idea that Republicans can rely on white votes only and thrive:
Rapidly changing demographics compound the GOP’s woes – especially at the presidential level. Since 1992, the white share of the national electorate has dropped in every presidential contest and fallen by 5 percent on average across the core battleground states in the last eight years. The Hispanic share of the electorate has nearly doubled in places like Colorado and Nevada since 2004, and Hispanics turned out in record numbers nationally in 2012.
But this isn’t just presidential-sized problem for Republicans. It can hurt many of them where they least expect it but it matters most: back home in their districts. That’s because some of the fastest-growing media markets among Hispanics are in places like Charlotte, Atlanta, Oklahoma City, Seattle, Minneapolis-St. Paul, and Kansas City – places that will matter electorally outside of the presidential race in every cycle…
A less tolerant, less open Republican Party that kills immigration reform will most certainly keep these states in the Democratic column for years to come. And it’s not just because of Hispanic voters. The fast-growing Asian-American community, not to mention young voters across the board, also sees the immigration issue as a decisive driver of how they plan to vote.
It’s up to the House GOP and its leaders (especially John Boehner, Eric Cantor and Kevin McCarthy) now. Immigration reform is not an issue that will go away. But the window for Republicans to act and salvage their political future won’t be open forever.