The good ship National Review, a.k.a. Ms. Nieuw Amsterdam, cruising through the blue waters of the Caribbean and discussing the recent election, is at its mid-point. And so far there have been no actual suicides. Indeed, the mood is wry and thoughtful in general, though some crew members may be the verge of despair. The panelists by and large have tried to draw them back from committing the unforgivable sin.
I offered my take on their success in the Globe and Mail. As the article argues, the debate over political demography has moved on since the early simplistic reaction (from, alas, some usually very non-simplistic people such as Charles Krauthammer) that in order to win the Latino vote, it would essential for the GOP to concede amnesty in some form or other. Exactly how the GOP would be helped by granting amnesty — to be followed almost inevitably by citizenship and enfranchisement — to more than ten millions of low-paid workers who on economic grounds alone would be reliable Democrats is not exactly clear. Nor would it be sustainable or democratic or, indeed, American to create a class of Latino workers without citizenship, indefinitely without political rights as some strategists seem to imagine. And it certainly wouldn’t make the party that did it more popular with others in the same ethnic group. Some of the evidence for this is to be found in the latest Pew poll, on which Kathryn commented below: Hispanic voters did not regard immigration as a particularly important issue. It was about fifth or sixth on their list of concerns.
What Latino voters want — as Ramesh Ponnuru points out — is very similar to what other middle-class Americans want. Specific Latino concerns must also be addressed, but they go beyond immigration. A Republican policy to address these has to be different from the Democrats’ promotion of ethnic balkanization. And it will require careful thought and imagination. But, however they do it, Republicans must address Hispanics as fellow Americans with the same hopes and fears as themselves and not as exotic creatures from either musicals or social realism movies or, as the Democrats address them, as Zapata-like revolutionaries being recruited to join the struggle against Yanqui overlordship.