When Lindsey Graham announced his long overdue exit from the Republican presidential race, he admitted his wing of the party had “collapsed.”
Labelled a “moderate” by many in the press, reports on Graham’s departure seemed to concur with his assessment Republican voters no longer liked his combined support of mass immigration and foreign interventionism.
During the race, Graham became known for spending most of his time criticizing his fellow Republicans on their divergence from his thinking on these issues. The South Carolina senator ripped Donald Trump for proposing a Muslim moratorium and castigated Ted Cruz for not supporting regime change in Syria. He even lashed out at the Republican rank-and-file for being ignorant and intolerant. (RELATED: The GOP Is Having An America First Moment)
The common refrain from Graham was clear: unless the GOP embraces immigration and a hawkish foreign policy, it was doomed to perish.
On the same day the senator came to terms with his doomed candidacy, The Wall Street Journal’s Bret Stephens issued a scathing letter on the state of the Republican Party from the perspective of the GOP’s collapsing wing.
In the op-ed, entitled “Let’s Elect Hillary Now,” Stephens predicted Clinton will win the general election by the way the Republican primary is shaping up. The Wall Street Journal writer believes conservatives, judging by their behavior, would rather wallow in masochism than work to elect a moderate candidate with a chance at the White House.Stephens argues the Republicans who are letting Ted Cruz and Donald Trump shoot up in the polls refuse to support the necessary outreach the party needs to survive in a diverse 21st century America, dooming the Right to an electoral abyss.
“We want the refiner’s fire that is our righteous indignation at a country we claim no longer to recognize — ruled by imposters and overrun by foreigners,” he acidly noted.
The Journal scribe believes Mitt Romney’s loss in 2012 was primarily due to support for “self-deportation” and the party is killing itself by not backing what he deems “immigration reform.” He also believes the diatribes against Marco Rubio and Paul Ryan from the Right prove the GOP core can’t stomach appealing beyond its narrow demographic.
The implication is the policies of Rubio and Ryan represent a dynamic message which can win a general election.
It’s worth noting Stephens shares Senator Graham’s firm commitment to restoring America to the world’s policeman. The journalist’s last book was dedicated entirely to arguing why the United States must engage in more foreign interventionism for the good of the planet.
The presupposition of Stephens and his ideological peers is once immigration is out of the way and we put an end to “Conservative Purity Tests,” the GOP can win a general election. Changes to time-honored Republican stances on foreign policy and government entitlements are not needed — what’s preventing Hispanics and other groups from giving the party a chance is mainly due to conservative opposition toward immigration reform.
The funny thing is while these self-proclaimed moderates imagine winning over Hispanics and other minority voters simply by passing amnesty and speaking Spanish, they don’t realize America’s latest arrivals have little appetite for bringing back the nation-building and ground wars that typified the foreign policy of George W. Bush.
Shortly after Romney’s defeat in 2012, The American Conservative’s Scott McConnell noted exit polls showed minorities had markedly less enthusiasm for using military force against Iran and refusals to cut military spending when compared with whites. McConnell interpreted this as a sign of America’s immigrants turning against “empire.”
Even though it may seem a bit of an exaggeration to say changing demographics are turning the tide of “empire,” more recent studies do appear to find a non-interventionist bent among America’s newest immigrants. According to two separate Pew surveys, Hispanics are more likely than whites to oppose a ground war against ISIS and are far more likely to oppose drone strikes against terrorists than any other group.
In the lead up to the Iraq war, nearly 70 percent of Americans backed an invasion. However, only 48 percent of Latinos supported the endeavor, and foreign-born Latinos were even less inclined to positively view the intervention. A 2007 Pew poll showed Hispanic support for the war had precipitously dropped over time, particularly among those foreign-born.
Asian-Americans, a group witnessing rapid growth due to immigration, weren’t fans of the Iraq war either and the invasion was one of the primary reasons for them leaving the GOP en masse in the last presidential elections, according to a 2012 University of California study.
Another group which contains a large number of immigrants also aren’t fond of American policies in the Middle East. Muslim-Americans have shown little support for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and are skeptical of the War on Terror, according to an Institute for Social Policy and Understanding report.
Remember, this is a group self-proclaimed moderates like Lindsey Graham believe is imperative to keep welcoming into the country in order to eradicate radical Islam.
Along with minorities not looking favorably upon mainstream Republican views on foreign policy, they’re also not keen on the message of cutting the size of government. For example, 75 percent of Latinos want government to be bigger. In comparison, only 41 percent of the general population shares this view.
Seeing these numbers before us, it’s hard to agree with Stephens’s argument that amnesty would pave the way to winning new demographics over to the GOP. To believe that, you have to ignore these figures. You also have to fixate on the 2012 election and conveniently forget the 2008 race. John McCain, the strongest Republican advocate for legalizing illegal aliens in the Senate, won only 31 percent of the Hispanic vote — a scant four percent more than the guy who called for self-deportation in 2012.
Against all evidence, many Republican elites still believe a rebrand of the Bush doctrine is the way forward for the party and the majority of America’s immigrants are “natural conservatives.” In reality, passing immigration reform would be tantamount to Republicans selling the rope with which Democrats will use to hang them.
Besides creating millions of new Democrats overnight, it would alienate the very core demographics the party depends on. What electoral chances would be left for Republicans would be between slim and none.
If foreign policy hawks would like to return America to the status of world policeman, it’d be good for them to listen to fellow neoconservative David Frum and realize that championing mass immigration is akin to cheering on your own political death.