Is the Arizona immigration bill a step in the right direction? Are there lessons from it that can inform the national debate about federal legislation? What must Republicans bear in mind walking back into this national debate? National Review Online asked a group of experts to weigh in.
GARY ANDRES It’s hard to take Washington Democrats seriously on immigration. Their sudden interest in the issue suggests other motives. As such, Republicans should treat the Obama/Pelosi/Reid/Schumer efforts to move comprehensive reform this year for what it is: a desperate political gambit.
Democrats see the midterm elections — possibly even their majority status — slipping away. Independent voters don’t trust the party’s big spending and “Washington fixes everything with a new law” approach. So who’s left? Only their base voters. Painting Republicans as obstructionists or even racists is their preferred strategy to mobilize a lethargic party core.
The GOP shouldn’t take the bait. Instead, they should go into this recognizing it’s purely a political exercise, not a genuine attempt to fix immigration problems. Democrats rigged the match so solutions are not possible. So don’t even go there. If Republicans acknowledge the real game, they can make progress toward fixing immigration problems early next year with greater numbers and a less politicized environment. Here are some reminders for the short term.
First, remember the importance of tone and “messengers.” Fight every day to ensure the mainstream media doesn’t choose both. Second, after health care, everyone except self-identified Democrats will recoil from another party-line vote on a major issue. Speaker Pelosi and Senator Reid have signaled that’s where they’re headed. Remind voters that fixing immigration requires national consensus. Third, this is a national issue, but states need flexibility. Immigration problems in Arizona and New Mexico are different than those in Kentucky and Kansas. President Obama and the Democrats will try to fix everything from Washington with a centralized, one-size-fits-all approach. Yet states require the tools and flexibility to address their own specific problems. Finally, remind voters that Republicans are serious about finding real solutions to immigration, even if Democrats are not.
– Gary Andres is vice chairman of research for Dutko Worldwide.
LEO W. BANKS Even the hysterical, foot-stomping lefties denouncing Arizona’s new immigration bill know it won’t do much. But what an opportunity it presents to hammer their narrative that the border issue is all about civil rights and anyone who talks of security and sovereignty is a by-God redneck and racial profiler.