meet my new friend.”
There is a well-known and oft used idiom which says, “A leopard can’t change its spots.”
After listening to both sides of the political aisle exchange banter regarding the ‘now’ all important question of immigration leading up to the 2014 and 2016 elections, one observation becomes clearer. Exactly what will Republican Party devoteés do? How will those currently in elected office and those running for office on right wing conservative platforms appease their extreme conservative base, which they have courted and kowtowed to year after year, in answering questions of immigration, illegal aliens and undocumented workers?
For years Republican members of congress have opposed virtually every immigration measure and policy effort. For years they have attempted every conceivable manner by which to shut down or block border crossings, throw out or deport those here illegally, and withhold or cut any possible funding whenever possible to dismantle support for social safety net programs which might be accessed by or benefit illegal aliens. These efforts have been proffered and accomplished with the express approval and vitriol consent of a Republican Party base made up of (primarily) white constituents. Enforcement actions agains immigrant populations were most often aimed squarely at the uneducated, poverty stricken, and non-white groups. (Those “huddled masses” eloquently referred to in the inscription on the Statue of Liberty, penned by Emma Lazarus in her sonnet ‘The New Colossus’.)
A vociferous and vocal Republican Party, as exhibited by those who recently ran in their election primaries to become the party’s candidate for President, each took painstaking and deliberate efforts to make promises regarding illegal immigrants and undocumented workers. You might recall as each candidate, sans Mr. Huntsman, responded to immigration questions with responses and plans, which more than once aroused hoots and hollers of support in voicing reviled denigration of those who stand in the crosshairs of immigration’s legislative snipers. Among the policy plans proposed were measures which might actually cripple the economic recession further, in order to make immigration unappealing to those wanting or waiting to come to this country, while exacerbating economic hardships to force others to leave voluntarily (self-deportation). Additionally, they supported efforts that persons along the borders should be dealt with harshly and decisively in order to bar further entrance into this country. We were told these types of policy efforts would relieve the continuing burden on the U.S. economy by undocumented workers here illegally.
If responses from the political right over the past few years were a cogent indication of Republican immigration policy plans, it may be difficult to now believe on its face value their neo turn-around stance on immigration. It is obvious that this current embracing of potential new laws regarding immigration reform is merely about getting votes. Both sides, Republicans and Democrats see the writing on the wall. The white majority in this country is fast in decline and it is only a matter of time until people of color are in the majority of America’s political and economic strength.
The Republicans in their inimitable way have dug themselves into an immigration policies hole which is fairly deep. It will be interesting to watch and learn in the months leading up to the next election cycle what proclamations will be touted and how the Republican right will address and answer their split constituencies. On one hand, what will they say and promise to their existing white base about holding a hard line on immigrants, undocumented workers, and illegals? While at the same time attempting to garner ever increasing new non-white voter blocs by making promises in direct opposition to their traditional conservative base prescriptions for immigration?
What will it take to change the appeal of the Republican right on immigration as well as other social issues? My guess it will take a new generation of Republican politicians and elected officials. The days of ‘old white men in power’ is slowly and progressively passing from the America governance landscape. The real question is not how, but how long will this change take? And without real change to centrist or moderate Republican leadership, is the Republican Party destined to become nationally irrelevant? In the interim will its hard-liners fight against all odds, and all comers to hold power? Will the GOP morph into a regional party or evolve into a political splinter group?
The political fire storms leading up to the 2014 and 2016 elections as politicians try to spin out of both sides of their mouths will be if nothing else, telling and entertaining. As adept as lawmakers are at their shell games, only the future will reveal if any of them are prepared to come bearing truths and policies which are good for the people of this country. Which politicians will choose to represent the people’s needs, instead of more self-serving aspirations, or lobbyist legislation at the behest of their moneyed masters; the uber-wealthy, Wall Street, and corporations.
Undoubtedly Republican congressional double-speak on immigration will remain as divisive and coerced as ever until the current generation of GOP right wingers and Tea Party activists fade into the political sunset finally relinquishing their stranglehold on the party of Lincoln. Until then, how will they walk the line between Constitutional guarantees for white, as well as
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