Philosophically, a Pew Hispanic Center poll determined that 55 percent of the Latino electorate would prefer to pay higher taxes to promote a bigger government. Hispanics were also more trusting of the government compared to private charities than either whites or blacks.
“Registered Latinos who identify as Republicans take a much more liberal stand on taxes and the size of government than their white counterparts,” the Pew study states. In fact, Hispanic Republicans were to the left of white Democrats on these questions.
It’s going to take an awful lot more than additional Republican votes for the DREAM Act to paper over this ideological divide.
Bush, the Republican presidential candidate who had the most success with Hispanic voters in recent memory — while still losing this group by double digits in 2000 and 2004 — didn’t just support amnesty. He also softened the GOP message on limited government, presiding over bigger increases in discretionary spending than Bill Clinton and espousing “compassionate conservatism.”
Can we afford that kind of outreach in an era of $1 trillion annual deficits?
Many Republicans in Congress voted for the last mass amnesty in 1986, which Ronald Reagan signed into law. Even Pat Buchanan supported it. It was, by the way, openly promoted with the word “amnesty” rather than with euphemisms like “comprehensive immigration reform.”
The Republican share of the Hispanic vote actually fell in the next presidential election and the post-amnesty cohort of Hispanics are if anything less Republican in their voting habits.
That’s not to say the GOP’s inability to win over a rapidly growing demographic group isn’t a problem.
But there’s no reason, besides wishful thinking, to believe an amnesty flip-flop is the solution.
The long, arduous process of developing policies that promote assimilation and upward mobility, then waiting for those policies to work, may be the only answer.
W. James Antle III is the editor of The Daily Caller News Foundation. Follow him on Twitter.