Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns



I'm not sweating the tightening generic ballot.  It probably reflects one of two things.  First, some polls have a too large number of self-identified Democrats in their voter sample.  The second is some Democratic leaners coming home.  The second factor is more relevant but should be kept in perspective.  The Democrats are going to get their 45% or more of the House vote.  I'm confident that Republicans will win control of the House and win 9 to 11 seats in the Senate.  I think Angle will win but the Democrats will win close ones in Connecticut and California.

I'm watching the California Senate race because it could be a sign of where politics is going.  Republicans should be winning this race.  The Republicans have the lousy economy working in their favor.  Boxer is an extremist (she is cagey about whether it should be legal to "abort" fully delivered fetuses...ugh...babies), and she has an obnoxious personality.  Fiorina isn't a perfect candidate, but she is competent.  Fiorina's problem seems to be that Republican gains seem concentrated among two groups.  First are right-leaning voters who (if polls are to be believed) are very excited about voting.  The second group is made up of white persuadables who don't have a strong liberal/Democrat political identity.  The Republicans are getting huge margins among whites.  Among white voters this isn't 1994.  This is 1984 at the congressional level.  In other words, the white voters who aren't voting Republican are committed liberals.  That is enough for Republicans to win in most places in 2010, but it might not be enough in California.  The Democrats are, under very adverse circumstances, doing surprisingly well among Latino and African American voters.  Obama's job national job approval rating among Latinos is 55%.  I'm not sure exactly how much stock to place in the California polls, but Boxer seems to be beating Fiorina among Latino voters by about 2 to 1.  The problem for Republicans nationally is that the national electorate will look a little more like California's every election cycle starting in 2012.  Or to put it another way- if ethnic voting patterns stayed the same, Scott Brown would probably have lost his Senate race in the demographic Massachusetts of 2020. 

Now there is no guarantee that the racial or ethnic voting margins of the present will reproduce themselves exactly in the coming decade-plus.  But there are reasons to worry.  The Democrats are holding undivided power and the American labor market is as bad as anyone under seventy can remember.  Unless something changes, the Republicans are near their historical ceiling among white voters and are only barely back where Bush was among Latinos in 2004.  The situation points to Republican losses among both groups if circumstances improve even a little. 

So that means that Republicans are going to have to earn (or not) gains among Latinos, and probably under less favorable circumstances than they have now. It isn't exactly clear how to go about doing that, but Ricochet's Rob Long asked an interesting question.  I'll try to give a tentative answer tomorrow.  


Categories > Politics

Discussions - 21 Comments

I wouldn't pin my hopes on this, but if Rs do as well as you think in the east, that could have an effect on the outcome in the west: I assume the Rs have a break their hearts media strategy to this effect. I recall how panicked the Rs were in 2000 and 2004 following exit polls; cool heads helped stiffen resolve.

Pete, attempting to 'give it an answer' requires an understanding of sociology and social psychology you have never manifested. Give it a rest.

Yes, and people like me have warned conservatives and Republicans for years about this porous border and what it means for the future polity. Now people like Pete want to "deal" with the Hispanic vote. I have a wonderful idea -- let's get control of immigration and then "deal" with Hispanics. Until we do, the demographic forecast is grim and gets more so as the years roll by. One of these days we'll wake up in New Mexico, and I'm not talking about the State.

Damn, maybe the GOP IS the stupid party. This would seem to be a non-brainer.

May I suggest a better approach?,0

But then, perhaps, while I consider Prager's letter to nicely summarize my own views, you do not. What seems to me to be the real "no-brainer" is that an approach like yours to the problem Pete so nicely describes--one that purports to "deal" with Hispanics--will lead, precisely, to the sort of thing you most fear. I'm all for getting control of immigration . . . but if you think we can do that without a serious explanation of our principles and a genuine effort to persuade, then you fool yourself. But a fear of arguments is to be expected when one is of the view that all questions must boil down to sociology and social psychology.

You've confounded Redwald with me.

If you are going to game elections, you should have a rough-and-ready sense (derived from experience) or an 'academic' sense of what you are doing (derived from study). Few of us do. Whatever you do, your activities have to be within the bounds of ethics and prudence.

My complaint with immigration is that it is uncontrolled and that the screens are overly complicated and ineffective toward certain ends.

Mexicans who wish to immigrate should pass a written and oral examination in English proficiency, take a number, and wait their turn with everyone else who wishes to immigrate. Mexican gangbangers and assorted hoodlums should be put in prison. Mexican pols who fancy that the purpose of the civil service or tertiary education is to build patronage networks should be told to buzz off. Is that too much 'dealing'?

Ken, it isn't impossible that Boxer loses. I would find it immensely gratifying - much more so than the impending defeats of Blanche Lincoln or Russ Feingold. But I'm more focused on the long-term trend than on the actual result. Even if Fiorina win narrowly, it means that in the country's largest state (whose present demographics the country as a whole will be moving towards in a diluted way), an obnoxious and extreme incumbent was only barely defeated under very nearly ideal national conditions.

AD, if I thought I had THE answer, I would be conducting a bidding war among Republican-leaning consulting firms that would quickly culminate in my attaining lifetime financial security. Instead you get my tentative suggestions drawn from personal experience, and my idiosyncratic reading. You get what you pay for and the time lost is a charge against your judgment.

Redwald, I believe there are over 35 million Latinos living in the US as either citizens or permanent legal residents and they make up a disproportionately large share of the younger cohorts. Even if the border is sealed so that nobody gets in again ever and no amnesty ever happens, the processes of natural increase and aging and naturalization will significantly expand the Latino electorate in the decade to come. Waiting for this, that, or the other thing to happen before improving appeals to Latino voters (and no that doesn't mean amnesty) is a self-destructive strategy. So I give the Republicans at least a 50% chance of adopting it.

I am not confounded nor did I confound. I recall, from previous discussions, that the two of you are in general agreement when it comes to these issues.

And while I do not object to Mexican immigrants (or any immigrants) being strongly encouraged to learn to speak English (I generally oppose bi-lingual ed., etc.) I think it is likely absurd to require them to pass a written and oral exam before admitting them to the country. I don't know where your ancestors originated (nor do I particularly care) but I know that mine did not have an especially good grasp of the language (if any grasp of it) when they arrived in the early part of the 20th century.

These things used to take care of themselves. If not in every case, then the great virtue of America is that it's a big place capable of absorbing some of this. If these things no longer take care of themselves in ways sufficient to satisfy any reasonable human being, then it probably says more about US than it does about the immigrants of today. We are likely doing something wrong.

And, of course, we know we are. Yes, in terms of immigration policy. But we also know the problem is deeper than that. Even if immigration policy was perfect and perfectly enforced, we'd still have a problem. Our schools barely do a tolerable job of educating native born Americans--and we're surprised when new ones don't assimilate? In fact they do assimilate! But to what? Our popular culture is rife with bad language, bad examples, and uninformed, reflexive, leftist ideology. And we're surprised when new Americans learn to disrespect their new home? Please.

We should be making allies and friends among this population--a population that understands (better than many spoiled native born Americans) what real tyranny and oppression is. They could--as immigrants always have--teach us something about gratitude. Because of their all-too-real experience it's likely that, with a little encouragement, they would probably happily laugh in the faces of their leftist "betters." All immigrants should be American conservatives because to be a conservative in America ought to mean that we are preserving the American idea of liberty because of equality. Instead, there are far too many of us who would rather sit back and unthinkingly insult them. It's tiresome. I'm not naive about the difficulties of taking in too many people who are not accustomed to liberty. But there are many things we could be doing to improve the situation besides whining about their numbers and finding fault with them.

I think it is likely absurd to require them to pass a written and oral exam before admitting them to the country.

Why? It is a skill which can be acquired through classroom instruction, does not (as does the Canadian immigration system) require implicit economic planning, excludes people who unemployable due to language barriers, acts as a mild screen excluding some low productivity labor (and thus competition with the more impecunious native strata), and excludes those least willing to meet the host society on that society's terms.

I don't know where your ancestors originated (nor do I particularly care)

Ulster, &c.

but I know that mine did not have an especially good grasp of the language (if any grasp of it) when they arrived in the early part of the 20th century.

You know, Julie, an immigration policy that would have left several thousand miles of ocean between the two of us does have its attractions.

I'm not naive about the difficulties of taking in too many people who are not accustomed to liberty.

Actually, the political system in Mexico is and has been for some seventy years now fairly pluralistic. Mexico's problems include high levels of crime, malintegrated labor markets, and political corruption. Like any Latin American country, its a wretched place to try to establish and build an on-the-books business, but at the rate things are going, our apparat will catch up to Mexico's in making life difficult for the entrepreneurial element.

"if I thought I had THE answer, I would be conducting a bidding war among Republican-leaning consulting firms that would quickly culminate in my attaining lifetime financial security. Instead you get my tentative suggestions drawn from personal experience, and my idiosyncratic reading. You get what you pay for and the time lost is a charge against your judgment."

Well said Pete.

Julie, I don't remmember Art Deco and Redwald being that close on immigration.

Redwald seems to advocate for Buchanan. AD's suggestions above aren't really incompatible with a radical pro-immigration policy that is more narrowly tailored in some respects.

We could for example move a lot closer to open immigration by removing all quota's and replace this with a literacy and civics test. Basically the USCIS(US citizenship and Immigration Services already administers a test to all immigrants who apply for citizenship.

Personally I tend to think immigration is actually a plus for the United States.

I am happy to sign off on AD's other requirement: "Mexican gangbangers and assorted hoodlums should be put in prison." As should all gangbangers and assorted hoodlums as soon as they commit a crime.

In other words something really basic... Welcome to the United States, here is a civics and reading test if you pass congrats you are an american citizen.

This should be the rule, and maybe we can carve out exceptions for vacations and business travel.

I mean I understand the whole birthright question differently. And I agree with folks who think it is somewhat rediculous. But I see it as judicial efficiency.

The 14th ammendment to reads: "All persons (born or naturalized) in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside."

I would downplay the part in parenthesis, or require the naturalization of all persons in the United States.

That is, you are here geographically, you are subject to the in personam jurisdicition according to Pennoyer v. Neff. So you have to take a citizenship test, which can include a reading component (it doesn't have to be that different than what the USCIS uses currently) you take it, you pass it, you are a US citizen.

All major points of entry into the United States should have large rooms were these classes are offered on a 24/7 basis(or as needed) with the administration of citizenship tests following the classroom instruction. Within reason certain CFR's could be developed and exceptions to the process carved out.

But there is no reason why everyone who lives in the United States shouldn't be a citizen of the United States.

The reason we have an illegal immigrant problem is simply that we decoupled citizenship from its geographic jurisdictional roots, a reading of the 14th ammendement where "subject to the jurisdiction" means the same thing it meant in Pennoyer v. Neff solves the problem.

The USCIS test for civics as well as basic reading tests may be necessary to ensure that immigrants have proper notice. You don't want folks who claim ignorance of law because they can't read/understand english. So AD's requirement is sensible, and serves a legitimate state interest. "Mexicans who wish to immigrate should pass a written and oral examination in English proficiency."

Absent vacation or business reasons, it should be a requirement for entering the united states, and even for such reasons since we are going to find these folks "subject to the juridiction" under Pennoyer, you might as well make these folks citizens. This would help to ensure public support(from business and tourist interests) for a streamlined process that would ensure that someone could arrive at LAX and become a citizen in under 2 hours.

I am domiciled in Ohio and a citizen of that state, but if I go to Detroit Michigan to fly to Dallas I am subject to the jurisdiction of Michigan, while I am in the air I am subject to the jurisdiction of any states I fly over, so I can get served while in the air over oklahoma and be subject to the jurisdiction of that court.even if I lack minimum contacts.

When you see the State signs as you travel, welcome to Michigan "blah, blah, blah" think I have just availed myself of the protections and jurisdiction of michigan courts. That is, the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th requires each state to provide equal protection under the law to all people within its jurisdiction, which means that if you are in Michigan and properly served(under the due process clause of the same ammendement) you are a Michigan citizen in the eyes of the court(black, white, mexican or wearing an Ohio State jersey).

Some additional questions:

What is Amnesty?(precisely in the immigration context, and what factors lead to its being necessary.)
What are the quota's on immigration currenty? Why is this method necessary if we have a sufficiently robust citizenship test?
What is the wait time on taking and passing the citizenship test?
Why can't this all be streamlined and accomplished at the border without requireing a period of continuous residence?

Here are my predictions:

1) Clueless conservatives (like Pete and Julie) will continue to "woo" the Hispanic vote while doing virtually nothing about the border. In the end...New Mexico, and again I'm not talking about the State.

2) The Republic will be dead within a century, not because of corruption or bankruptcy, but demographics. Multicultural "nations" just don't have much staying power, if history is any guide (e.g., USSR, Austria-Hungary, greater India, Israel/Palestine...and list gets very long). I do wish you folks would learn some history/philosophy beyond the Founders, Lincoln, and Leo Strauss.(And yea, I'm saying I agree with Pat Buchanan on this particular sue me).

The United States is made up of migrants, not indigenes, and has a free-form 'associative' conception of nationhood. We (and Australia and Canada and New Zealand) have more room to maneuver in this regard than does Switzerland.

The analogy with Austria-Hungary does not hold. There you had ethnic groups with predominated in particular territories whose residence was of antique provenance. The state proved unsustainable when you had a parallel phenomena of mobilization of previously politically dormant non-aristocratic strata conjoined to the replacement of fealty to the dynasty by entho-linguistic loyalty as the source of political allegiance.

Buchanan has been known to criticize even unproblematic immigration streams, such as that from Korea.

Still, the screening and mode of reception of new immigrants is crucial and with regard to both our regime class follows policies for their own amusement rather than policies in the interests of their countrymen (with most of whom they appear to feel no special affinity).

Very reasonable, AD, but wrong, alas. Many Mexican migrants, legal and illegal, think of the American West as theirs by right. Austria-Hungary is an apt example.

All streams of immigrants are "unproblematic" until they aren't, which generally means when they grow sizable. And it's a mistake to think of the United States as simply an "associative" nation. All nations require a deep, organic sense of nationhood (natal being the root here) -- in the past our Anglo-Saxon heritage provided enough gravity to hold the nation together. I'm not so sure anymore.

The problem with Enlightenment philosophy was that it underestimated the power of 1) human nature, and 2) ascribed identity. "Reason" has great difficulty overcoming these twin forces in human behavior. We need to stop underestimating them.

California is an experiment in progressive/liberal principals that is on the brink of destruction. The whole State, with the exception of the brillant people who started up the Silicon Valley, is now a welfare state. The state/city/county workers are unionized - prison guards, parks, schools, police, firefighters, etc. California has the largest welfare budget of the 50 states - housing, medical coverage, food stamps, etc, etc. that is distributed not only to a large legal population, but a huge illegal population as well. At some breaking point in the near future, if Governor MoonBeam Brown is elected as the new governor it will be sooner than later, there will be no more money. Then the real fighting will begin meaning who gets "cut" out of the budget. Firefighters will point fingers at teachers, teachers at state workers, prison guards at illegal welfare recipients and so on and so on. No one is going to give in and give up their "free ride". This will cause fighting in the state legislature, which created the mess in the first place. Since California is a blue state and the state legislature is a majority of Democrats, the fight will be interesting. Who will win - my bet is the prison guards and teacher's unions who have the most membership and the most money - they will most likely prevail. The loser - the illegals which are mostly hispanic. The outcome will be interesting because the Democrats will be the ones caught in the middle - not the Republicans.

I am not sure what would have been a optimal immigration policy for the period running from 1840 to the present, but we have managed to prosper (more-or-less) with one which was not too particular about country of origin (bar during the period from 1920 to 1965, when we had severe national origin quotas).

Buchanan's remarks about Korean immigration - a modest stream of economically quite productive people from whom collective demands for accomodation have been negligible - could not be taken seriously.

Much of the trouble we have is in elite attitudes toward immigration streams which lead to the application of bad screens and wholly inappropriate cosseting of recent immigrant populations. The bad screens include family preference programs (which exacerbate the concentration of immigration streams), worker visas, and what amounts to nearly free entry for Mexicans and Central Americans. The inappropriate cosseting includes political patronage ('affirmative action') which makes no sense according to the original excuses offered for such programs, as well as official efforts to manufacture a Hispanophone minority in this country. Also included are general extension (often court-ordered, natch) of public benefits to people who have not paid a minimum threshhold of payroll taxes. This has been particularly destructive of the common life of Puerto Rican populations on the mainland. We can deal with these problems without insisting that aspirant immigrants come from the land of fish 'n chips.

It's not clear to me that even the white ethnic migrant streams of the late 1880s have been "unproblematic." Where is conservative strength strongest? That would be the South, the West, and some of the Midwest (i.e., fly-over country) -- the very places that are still somewhat homogeneous in terms of ethnicity/culture (mostly NW Europe). And where is Progressive strength greatest? Well, where migrants of the last century or so have congregated -- the NE and West Coasts + a few major cities (e.g., Chicago).

I'm not suggesting that the Jews and Italians should "go home." (No Helen Thomas here, folks!). I'm suggesting that we begin to understand the true implications/consequences of heavy immigrant streams, and act accordingly. I understand that the GOP wants to keep the cheap labor coming, but there comes a point where that is political suicide.

Maybe Lenin was right about capitalists and rope.

I would wager that changes in the political economy of the United States registered between 1933 and 1945 were granted a facility by the change in the composition of the population between 1890 and 1924. The thing is, there was much else going on as well and you did see considerable change in the political economy of Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, even though the demographic position of their foundational nationalities was stronger. These changes occurred just about everywhere in the occidental world.

It seems to me that the most reliably liberal states (Oregon, Minnesota, Massachusetts, Vermont, Rhode Island, Maryland) are not those where the descendants of post-1890 immigration streams have an abnormally large share.

You do have a considerable Italian population in New England. Ethnic Italians may have been an important part of Democratic machines in the early and middle 20th century. We can look it up, but I would wager you (given a rough reading of election results here in New York) that the voting behavior of ethnic Italians has been, since about 1965, center-right.

There is likely better and more systematic literature on the point, but I would refer to the opinions of Michael Lind, based on his conversations with Democratic Party strategists. Lind is the odd critic of mass immigration within the Democratic Party; and is of the view that the Democratic Party needs to rebuild its base with the (caucasian) wage earning population. He reported that the Democratic fixers he spoke to (this was about a dozen years ago) had no interest in such a task and were planning to enhance the Democratic Party's standing by promoting and mobilizing Latino immigration.

In any society, there is a spectrum on any dispositional or behavioral variable you care to name and a distribution of the population for each. The point is to attract the people in those societies whose points on these spectra show them to have a robust affinity for American life. The proportion of people who have that affinity is going to vary from place to place, but it will generally be non-zero.

Well, I agree that there are "natural Americans" out there, but our immigration laws don't select for them. I'm not suggesting shutting down the borders -- just controlling them, for crying out loud!

Have we ever selected for "Americanism?" Most of the massive waves of immigrates since the 1840s have been economic migrants, which I think explains the gradual watering-down of the American experiment. True, there have been many "natural Americans" in those streams, but just like mining, there's a lot more country rock than gold.

Seems to me America would have been a better place to live had we slowed down our development (i.e., population growth). Filling our cities and factories with immigrants made wonderful economic sense, but politically and socially I think it was a mistake.

"Filling our cities and factories with immigrants made wonderful economic sense, but politically and socially I think it was a mistake."

Are you a Native American, Redwald??

I'm just trying to get a handle on what you're implying when you say "our" cities and factories and when you begin, time-wise, considering people to be immigrants.

OK, Scanlon, I'll play along. People of British descent (i.e., English, Scots-Irish, Welsh) along with a smattering of Germans and others were Founders rather than immigrants. The DNA of our government and our economy is owed to these people and no other. Everyone else (including the Native Americans) were late to the party. Just the fact, Mr. Liberal.

OK, Scanlon, I'll play along. People of British descent (i.e., English, Scots-Irish, Welsh) along with a smattering of Germans and others were Founders rather than immigrants. The DNA of our government and our economy is owed to these people and no other. Everyone else (including the Native Americans) were late to the party. Just the fact, Mr. Liberal.

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