The GOP's ideological cul-de-sac is restricted
I needed a good laugh today, and I got one:
[A]s conservative criticism of the reform effort grows louder, many Republican operatives, donors, and consultants are bracing for an outcome that would be even worse, politically, than the demise of the bill: a fierce, national, right-wing backlash that drowns out the GOP's friendlier voices, dominates Telemundo and Univision, and dashes any hopes the party had of making inroads to the Hispanic electorate by 2016.
"We are really balanced here on a little precipice, and if this, pardon the pun, goes south, we could be in very serious trouble," said Republican media strategist Paul Wilson, citing the increasingly intense attacks on the immigration bill coming from the right. "If [the legislation] stalls or is killed off by conservatives, we could take the Hispanic community and turn them into the African-American community, where we get 4% on a good day... We could be a lost party for generations."
Establishment Republicans don't have to reach too far back in recent history to find precedent for this political nightmare scenario: It would look a lot like the last time Congress pursued comprehensive immigration legislation.
Ya think? I suppose it's possible that the Republican base has changed dramatically on this issue since 2007, but I don't think we've seen much evidence of it:
Now it must be noted that many of these same people say that immigrants who are in the country deserve some sort of "reform" but if you drill down to actual attitudes, you can see that they aren't really very happy about them being here at all. And if you look at that last question you'll see that one extremely significant faction of the GOP base is particularly hostile. It's not surprising that GOP strategists are nervous, particularly when you have this as well:
The rift extends beyond messaging issues and inflammatory rhetoric. The RNC clearly views Latino voters as being of paramount strategic importance, and the committee report specifically endorses comprehensive immigration reform as a way to attract Latino votes and prevent further erosion of the party's appeal beyond its "core constituencies." That's a position Limbaugh specifically rejects. "The Republicans have bought the idea that they're never gonna win anything if they don't relax the perceived position they have on immigration," Limbaugh said in late January. He's taken it upon himself to block immigration reform on his own, if necessary. And even though Limbaugh had kind words for Sen. Marco Rubio's (R-FL) foray into immigration politics, he still stopped short of backing reform.
I'm afraid they're stuck because a very large number of people in their cul-de-sac really don't like anyone but themselves.
The irony here is that conservative talk radio played a hugely significant role in popularizing the brand of Republican politics the party leadership now views as toxic and untenable. It wouldn't come as surprise, then, that resistance to Republican rebranding efforts would filter down from Limbaugh to the rest of the conservative movement that grew up listening to his show. One need only look at the recently concluded Conservative Political Action Conference to get a sense of how the activist base will receive the RNC's proposed changes. The conservative media figures who attended the conference see a movement that's humming along nicely and effectively mobilizing the faithful. The RNC sees something very different: a party that is busily "driving around in circles on an ideological cul-de-sac."