The Grover Plan: More Cowbell!

Mickey Kaus Columnist
Font Size:

We’ll dilute our way out of it! Republicans did poorly among Hispanics last week. How to address that problem? The answer, they’re told by Washington savants, is to back an immigration reform that … increases the number of Hispanics! It’s a plan so crazy it just might be crazy.

Joshua Culling, who works for Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform,  elaborates on the plan elsewhere on this site. It turns out the idea–let’s call it the Grover Plan, just to be annoying–isn’t as wacky as I you might think. It’s wackier.

Suppose Republicans conspire with Dems to bring amnesty to the 10 or 11 million unauthorized immigrants who are already here. Eventually they become citizens. Will they be ready to wipe the slate clean and vote Republican? Or will the Dems figure out new ways to gin up their ethnic base at election time? Cullings denies they’ll be able to do that–at least by “promising direct subsidies to immigrants or an expanded welfare state:”

[A] bloated welfare system is vastly unpopular, especially among America’s native-born population. And the makeup of the electorate suggests that any party that tries to attract immigrant support by offering immigrants direct subsidies will lose more votes than it will gain. It makes zero political sense to gain one Hispanic vote at the expense of three votes from other groups.

I’m not so sure Dems can’t offer some benefits–e.g. Obamacare–to immigrants in ways Republicans may balk at (with the contrast communicated to Latinos below the radar, through Spanish-language media, as happened this year). But let’s put the welfare state aside. Here in California Dems have proven themselves experts at ginning up other kinds of ethnic grievances that result in Latinos feeling “disrespected” by Republicans. There is, for example, the ongoing debate over bilingualism–a debate in which Univision and Spanish language radio, which would go broke if everyone spoke English, are reliable allies. It’s easy to see another “disrespecting” controversy over dual voting–should Mexican immigrants vote in their home country and exercise other perks of twin … see, if you even say “twin loyalties” you’ve created enough of an issue.

Republican attempts to suppress minority votes have been inspiring African American turnout for half a century. Why can’t they inspire Latino turnout too? And don’t many Republicans want to eliminate race preferences? If Dems can’t bill that as a war on the brown man–at a time when Latinos are underepresented in x or y profession, etc.–they’re less competent than they’ve proven to be lately. Finally, even after an amnesty law passes there’ll be two other surefire Dem issues: 1) Some Republicans may actually attempt to defend the “enforcement” parts of a comprehensive deal (e.g. employment checks) when  they are subjected to interest group legal assault.  Those Republicans will be “disrespectful” to the community and “anti-immigrant.” 2) And, of course, after any amnesty there is the issue of the next amnesty, for those who come into the country illegally after the cutoff date. I’m sure I’ve forgotten some potential grievances.

Ethnic grievances can sting for a long time if they are constantly refreshed. Cullings seems to believe that, anyway, which is why (after denying Dems will be able to keep ethnic resentment alive) he more or less abandons any hope that the GOP can win over current Hispanic voters. Amazingly, he also gives up on winning over the 10-11 million new amnesty recipients Republicans will be empowering:

Future immigrants will be more open to the Republican Party because, unlike many immigrants who are already here, they won’t have been harmed or insulted by Republican politicians. [E.A.]

So we’ve got 10% of the electorate that is Latino and hates the GOP for harming and insulting them. And we’ve got 10 million additional formerly illegal immigrants on the path to citizenship and voting who will hate Republicans for harming and insulting them. How is the GOP going to overcome those numbers? More immigants!

In the 1920s and 1930s, about a million people of Mexican heritage (including U.S. citizens) were deported from the U.S. Those who were left behind resented the U.S. government quite a bit. When their descendants tried to organize civil rights and left-wing movements in the 1960s to redress their grievances and vent their anger at their historically poor treatment, they had almost no success with Mexican immigrants who had come during the 1940s and later. The later immigrants didn’t care because they weren’t related to the people harmed.

By increasing legal immigration, Republicans will dilute the level of anti-Republican resentment among the immigrant community and its descendants so long as the Republican Party embraces the new immigrants as Americans. [E.A.]

Got that? The Grover plan is not to win over today’s anti-GOP Hispanic voting bloc. The plan is not to win over the millions of Hispanic amnesty recipients. The plan is to “dilute” them by increasing new legal immigration of people who are now living abroad (and presumably shepherding them into the electorate at record speed). But if that’s the solution, why not just increase legal immigration without giving yourself an extra 10 million permanently disrespected voters to “dilute”? And what if these new immigrants are Latino and Asian and for some bizarre reason, are just as Democratic as current Latino and Asian voters?

Maybe the Democrats who are currently cheering the Grover Plan know something. (Or are they suicidal?)

There may be credible arguments for amnesty as a policy–if you are a certain kind of Republican, you would like a nation open to the ambitious from all over the globe.  You are not troubled if this leads to a society that looks like Rio de Janeiro writ large, with declining living standards for unskilled workers who are forced to compete with all the world’s poor. Such societies can be dynamic. Republicans, after all, don’t worry so much about inequality, or servility (when the poor are happy to take jobs servicing over the rich). It will be easier to find good help. And the overall GDP will go up. I disagree with this policy, obviously. But it’s an argument we could have.

The argument Culling is making, though, isn’t that amnesty followed by greatly expanded immigration is the best thing for America. It’s that amnesty followed by greatly expanded immigration is the best way to elect Republicans. That’s the part that seems insane.

Mickey Kaus