5.25.2007

Letting Fear Rule: Nativism Is a Recipe for Long-Term GOP (and Dem) Losses

The following are excerpts from Fear Rule: Nativism Is a Recipe for Long-Term GOP Losses (by Michael Gerson, WashingtonPost - 5.25.07), a terrific article which makes the point that nativism as a political strategy is a loser for a majority party.

It's irrational or sick. But who said racism and anti-Latino bigotry was rational? As I've written before, the GOP needs a doctor real fast.

Excerpts:

In 1882, Congress passed and President Chester Arthur signed the Chinese Exclusion Act. Today we don't name laws as bluntly as we used to. But anti-immigrant sentiments are very much alive, this time expressed in opposition to the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007.

At one level, any immigration debate concerns a raw political calculation: Who ends up with more voters?

A nativist party will cease to be a national party.

Republican momentum among Hispanic voters has been strong in the past decade -- until Rep. Tom Tancredo and his allies began their conflict with the fastest-growing segment of the electorate.

Conceding Latinos to the Democrats in perpetuity is a stunning failure of political confidence.

But the real passion in this debate is not political, it is cultural --a fear that American identity is being diluted by Latino migration. Tancredo is the lowbrow expression of this fear.

Not all Hispanics view immigration favorably, but 100 percent resent being targets of suspicion.

"The elephant in the room," says Rodriguez, "is the Latinoization of America.

For Rodriguez and others, religion adds an element beyond politics and culture to the immigration debate. The Christian faith teaches that our common humanity is more important than our nationality. That all of us, ultimately, are strangers in this world and brothers to the bone; and all in need of amnesty.

This belief does not dictate certain policies in a piece of legislation, but it does forbid rage and national chauvinism. And this is worth a reminder as well.