Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Immigration Blame Game

A good point from Dave Hopkins:
Will be hard for GOP leaders to blame Dems if immig reform falls apart in part b/c plenty of conservatives will take credit for killing it.
The trick will be threading the needle somehow, right? To be clear: within the conservative information loop, it's probably perfectly possible for both arguments to gather steam, both that conservative heroes saved the nation from an amnesty bill and that Barack Obama deliberately undermined the bill for cynical political reasons. Make them forcefully, and no one who wants to support the GOP line will notice a contradiction.

However, the key constituency for the argument is neutral Latino groups and opinion leaders (and perhaps also GOP-aligned Latino leaders who are nevertheless upset about their position on the issue and considering splitting). For them, yeah, it does seem that having a bunch of conservatives celebrating the death of a bill might be a problem.

Come to think of it, there's probably another key constituency: both Latinos and non-Latinos who would otherwise be open to the GOP but are disgusted by what they perceive as intolerance. The problem there is obvious; it's more than likely that those conservatives bragging about killing the bill will say things that sound intolerant to that constituency, and Democrats will certainly be aggressive about making sure the right ears hear what's being said. Indeed, the strongest argument for passing a bill (when it comes to electoral politics) is that getting the issue off the table will reduce the chances of Republican politicians saying the wrong thing in the future.

Anyway, in related immigration discussion, I have a post up at PP talking about what's going wrong for immigration in the House -- it needs full-out Republican supporters, and it doesn't seem to be getting any.


  1. You may be overcomplicating this. A lot of the Republicans may simply have written off the Hispanic vote, and adopted the "double down on working class white voters" approach, justifying it by Sean Trende's "missing white voters" articles.

    I think this will be disastrous for them, for four reasons. First of all, IMO Trende greatly overestimates the extent to which the "missing white voters" would have voted Republican in 2012--70 percent seems too high to me. Second, to be blunt, Hillary Clinton will get some white votes Obama didn't simply because she is white. (Polls show her very popular with black voters, despite 2008, so she may get the best of both worlds.) Third, the "double down on white votes" Republicans don't even get Trende straight, because they ignore his calls for the GOP to change its economic policies if it wants to win more white working-class votes. Fourth, while it is absolutely true that doing better with Hispanics would not have enabled Romney to win any states except Florida, that's a pretty big "except"--and Florida isn't going to get any less Hispanic by 2016. (Moreover, if Charles Crist wins the governorship in 2014, I can see a Clinton-Crist ticket in 2016 which would be hard to beat in Florida, especially if the GOP rejects Rubio and Jeb Bush because of their views on immigration.) Florida combined with the states that have gone Democratic in all six of the most recent presidential elections (none of which were particularly close in 2012) would allow the Democrats to win the White House even without Ohio, Virginia, Iowa, Colorado, and New Hampshire...But of course this is just concern trolling, so Republicans will ignore it. And *in 2014* they may well seem vindicated, since the key Senate races that year are not in states where Hispanics will be decisive. Unfortunately for them, however, success for the GOP in mid-term elections does not always equate with success two years later, as 1946, 1994, and 2010 show...

    1. Also, Trende overlooked the other missing voters.

    2. Another limit on this theory- a non-trivial number of white voters are turned off by overt bigotry, and even purposeful neglect. Once you take those voters out of the universe, you have to seriously wonder if Republicans haven't already maxed out what they can get from whoever is left.

  2. " ignore his calls for the GOP to change its economic policies if it wants to win more white working-class votes. "

    The only people I hear who want to change econ policies are pundits who also oppose the Senate bill because of the increase in low skilled workers in the legislation.

    Anyone who listened to Rush would find the post piece strange. Rush has denounced the bill at length frequently for the last month. His show has also had many commercials supporting the bill quoting Rubio.

    1. I agree that some conservative pundits like Douthat and David Frum do oppose immigration reform on the "damage to low-skilled workers" theory and do call on the GOP to have a more working-class-friendly economic policy. But the great majority of conservative opponents of immigration reform (like many conservative *supporters* of it) are quite happy with the economic ideology of the GOP over the past 33 years--they argue that the only problem is that the GOP hasn't pursued it consistently enough...

  3. Only Americans like Steve Sailer read about restrictions on immigration to Mexico. So it's a joke for progs to demagogue as raciss that which is a reasonable policy question in most countries (including Mexico.) For progs who'd actually like to learn something today instead of just mouth-breath in a partisan way, I recommend this wiki article.

    1. The more obvious conclusion is that most of us are fully aware that Mexico is a flawed country that is in many ways far more openly bigoted than the United States, and we shouldn't seek to emulate Mexico's faulty social policies by arbitrarily making life difficult for those seeking to live peacefully within our borders.

    2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    3. I'm not calling conservative opponents of immigration reform racists. I'm calling Mexican political leaders bigoted. Your argument was that support for strict anti-immigration policy can't be driven by bigotry because Mexico has strict anti-immigration policy, which has two logical leaps that aren't really supported (Mexico has huge issues with bigotry against indigenous people which drives a lot of immigration policy, and even if that weren't the case that doesn't mean Mexicans and Americans have the same motivations for restrictive immigration policy). In fact, in defense of conservative opponents of stricter immigration law and enforcement, I believe they are overall significantly LESS motivated by open bigotry than Mexicans are. The choice of Mexico as a social model for the US to emulate is a bad one when trying to avoid accusations of racism.

  4. Come on people, "progs", "asshole", etc. is not how things are done on A Plain Blog.

    1. Why is "prog" so bad? People say "con" in place of "conservative" all the time. It's an equivalent truncation.

    2. Getting to this late (thus just now zapping one comment), but if people are still reading:

      On these, it's primarily an etiquette question having to do with what people want to be called. If there's a general sense that "prog" (for whatever reason) is offensive to the people in question, I'll ask that it be used around here, but otherwise I'm pretty much with byf -- nothing inherently offensive about "prog" or "lib" or "con" that I'm aware of.

      (Separately, I'm of the opinion that byf inaccurately lumps a wide variety of people and beliefs under that label, many of whom do not think of themselves as either progressives or liberals, but that's a somewhat separate issue).

  5. Anyway, I thought the original post was about the *politics* of the bill--how the GOP would sell its position to Hispanics, or if it even thinks it needs to. Discussions of the merits of the bill (even if conducted respectfully) seem off-topic here.

    1. The point is that progs have turned the whole bill into a "that's raciss" shouting match when much of the world is much more restrictive of immigration than the US (including both Canada and Mexico.) 90% of the *politics* is calling people who don't see any good in what everyone knows the bill will entail racist. This is one of many policy areas where progs are anti-reality and pro-ignorance. My guess is that no one on this blog has gone so far as to do even basic reading about immigration to Mexico or Canada.

    2. Not really. Of course they're happy to capitalize politically on the fact that the Republicans are loathe to do anything that benefits anyone outside their white constituencies - and the fact that in the process individual Republicans seem to find it impossible to avoid saying alienating or downright offensive things about minorities.

      But I've read plenty of liberal articles making the case for immigration on its merits as policy. For instance, a ten-second search on Wonkblog gives: well as a socialist's argument against immigration reform:

    3. Republicans are loathe to do anything that benefits anyone outside their white constituencies

      Right wing sock puppet? Surely, no real prog would begin a comment denying that the principal argument of the pro-amnesty side is "you're racist" and then follow it with the above.

    4. He might if he's capable of holding two thoughts in his head at the same time.

      Republicans' main constituency is white (and older) Americans. Whatever the personal feelings of individual party actors about race, pushing policies that benefit their main constituency rather than others is the kind of thing politicians tend to do.

      Liberals can make political capital out of this without doing what you're saying - relinquishing actual policy arguments 90% of the time. They think they're right on both the policy and the politics, so there's no need to back one horse.

    5. If you're the same anonymous, then the following tract is backpedaling from a much stronger and sillier claim:

      Republicans' main constituency is white (and older) Americans. Whatever the personal feelings of individual party actors about race, pushing policies that benefit their main constituency rather than others is the kind of thing politicians tend to do.

      Compare to the statement I highlighted above, which equalled "Republicans hate to do anything that benefits non-whites." The original statement was one of pure, racial animosity.

      To reiterate: a big reason that gov policy is especially sucky in America is because most of the progs who run the show don't know anything except to call "racist!" No knowledge of other countries' immigration policies, federal definitions of ethnicities, etc..

    6. They are the same statement.

      Look, you have at the moment a debate on the right, in which some voices call for policy changes that might make non-whites like them more, and others say, "No, let's double down and just get more of the white vote."

      That's the debate: What's the absolute minimum of policies that non-whites will tend to like, and many of our white voters will dislike, that we need to adopt if we're to remain electorally viable?

      In the end, I'm not sure it's that important how many of the players are bigots, how many are cynics, and how many just have strong principles that lots of minority voters happen to disagree with. Ever since the Southern Strategy took effect, they've explicitly or implicitly identified themselves as the party of white people, and these party identifications have policy consequences.

      As for voter ignorance, is there more on the left than the right? Is there more name-calling, and more of a victim complex? There might be more accusations of racism on the left, but then there's more mindless jingoism on the right, even if you don't believe there's more actual racism.

    7. They are the same statement.

      No, they're not. My continuing point is not about which side is the least silly; it's that progs could easily improve the world if they had any interest in reading about science or basic facts, but they've found that it's easier and more fun to just scream "racist!" Let's look at a bog standard prog statement on race again:

      Republicans are loathe

      Republicans HATE

      to do anything

      ANY action at all

      that benefits anyone

      Any person at all, even if it's by accident

      outside their white constituencies

      who is black, Asian, mestizo, etc.

      This is lunacy. The average prog can't even recognize what a fool he is on race. For one of many examples, just Google "George bush aids africa"

      A lot of these questions are really serious, but most progs act as if politics is just a game about scoring points instead of how we decide who to point guns at.

    8. Yeah 'loathe' was a typo, it was meant to be 'loath'. My bad, though I'm surprised you didn't pick it up from the syntax.

      So no claims of 'hate'. But no, they're not keen to act to benefit those outside their constituencies, which yes, are almost wholly white.

  6. Jonathan, your view that Republicans are committing hari-kari with Republican-leaning hispanics by opposing the bill may be correct. That argument is pretty easy to make, particularly to a liberal audience. It does occur to me that the argument, though widely-held in liberal circles, may also be very wrong.

    If conservatism is going to survive in America into the diverse 21st century, it will almost certainly have to be as follows: thought leaders in each tribe/race will compete for influence via accomplishments of their tribe; status will be gained by virtue of said achievement. Actually, forget "conservatism" - if America will survive, it will probably have to move to a similar model. For an illustration of such a thought leader, think of Bill Cosby's efforts to combat the self-destructive "acting white" meme in black urban culture a generation ago.

    Getting back to the hari-kari charge: if politics in America is and always will be about identity grievances, then surely all races and tribes should bring in as many of their own as possible, as there absolutely is safety in numbers. However, if the American system evolves to a tribal responsibility model, then some of your people are easier to manage in such a system than others.

    Heck, don't even pin this on Latinos - I suspect that most readers of this comment, being relatively well-educated and liberal, would agree that, if they were accountable to their tribe's accomplishments to gain status, then a lot of members of their group (however defined) would not be particularly desirable to answer for. That's true for all of us, I think.

    And, bringing this back, makes the immigration conversation perhaps somewhat more complicated than it appears in the liberal media.

    1. CSH:
      I really and truly do not follow.

      If: a) demographic trends do not favor the current GOP coalition
      b) GOP leaders do not seem to be interested in growing the tent much (at least on this issue)
      then doesn't it follow that:
      c) GOP behavior on this issue is not optimal?

      (To boil down the argument to simple points)

      I'm not following your second paragraph, where you were making the heart of your point. Are you saying that, in the future, the success of the conservative movement will depend on the success of the individual members of that movement? So, conservatives will win policy debates by virtue of having successful individuals in their ranks, so others wish to go along with them?

      It seems like you were trying to make a deep point, but I'm just not quite seeing it.

    2. Matt, thanks for the question, its probably my own inability to articulate that led to the confusion. Hopefully the following doesn't come across as patronizing; its the best way I can come up with to clarify my position.

      Suppose that the GOP of tomorrow is comprised of the same crazy patchwork of races and tribes that is currently America. Suppose further that those tribes are in (not-particularly-subtle) competition with each other for consideration within the Republican party. To keep the example simple, suppose there were only two tribes: the Matt Jarvises and the CSHes.

      Also, to avoid offending anyone, suppose these tribes are evaluated on one metric: "goodness" (however it is defined). To my dismay, the CSHes score only a 4.2 on "goodness" on a scale of 1-10, while the Matt Jarvises score an 8.9. As a result, as the thought leader of the Matt Jarvises, your successful tribe garners you access to consideration, chits, no-bid contracts or whatever it is that Republican movers and shakers get when they succeed.

      At this point in the story, I have the opportunity to immigrate/import a whole bunch of CSHes that only average 3.0 on the dreaded "goodness" measure. My fellow non-CSH citizens are troubled by bringing in a bunch of 3.0-types, and I'm offended by that, I tell you!

      But I don't want them either, right? Those 3.0s don't help me at all.

      I've no idea whether relations in the US either are, or will be, moving in this direction. But if they do, it will certainly make within-race reaction to immigration policy complicated, and probably a lot more complicated than what people let on, especially on the Republican side of the aisle.

    3. The reason to pass the Senate comprehensive immigration bill is to 1) formalize and legitimize the informal system (run by big business and fueled by economic need) that brings low-cost labor into the United States, and to 2) make it easier to bring high-skilled foreign workers to the United States.

      According to the Congressional Budget Office, the Senate bill as written would bring less "future Democrats" into the USA than the current system.

      I may be misunderstanding you, but I believe your point is that the Senate bill is, at its core, about brining in more Latinos. It would not do that.

    4. Ah, so in your model, the audience of interest is really party actors, right? (My first interpretation was that it was the general public)

      So, the influence of, let's say, Christian conservatives, within the GOP tent is derived somehow from the the success of Christian conservatives....but where? Is this measure of "goodness" internal to the party? External? Related to politics? Related to the issue at hand? (Note: I recognize that your model seems to be aimed more at being descriptive than prescriptive, so I'm not trying to say you LIKE this world you're describing)

      To bring this back to more concrete terms, then, some of the objections within the GOP to allowing in more (mostly Latino) immigrants might be coming from Latino GOP themselves, on the basis that, somehow, those among the new immigrants who end up in the GOP will dilute their power?

      To run with your example some more, does the average matter as much as the variance? If you're letting in a bunch of 3.0s, but there's going to be a lot of 0s and a lot of 9s and 10s in that bunch, will the success of the 9s and 10s be all that you need? I'm still not seeing the mechanism by which goodness->power, so I'm not quite seeing it.

    5. Matt, the coin of the realm in the conservative tent *should be* individual accomplishment, which will be defined a little bit differently by different stakeholders; the "goodness" idea above is a placeholder for such differences. To the extent various tribes and races will coexist successfully within the future conservative tent, each should be motivated - indeed, competitive - for accomplishment. Thought leaders should push for accomplishment the way a coxswain exhorts his rowers; individuals should push for accomplishment the way individual rowers do.

      One wouldn't expect a coxswain to call out a weaker rower in his boat, at least not publicly. However, if that coxswain can make moves to replace the weaker rower with a stronger one, he will certainly do so.

      Similarly, a hispanic thought leader looking to make it in tomorrow's diverse GOP may not endorse ostensibly anti-hispanic immigration policy, but if it leads to stronger hispanics (in his proverbial boat), that thought leader may be 'attracted' to such policies, much like the coxswain is attracted to stronger rowers.

      Merely a thought experiment in contrast to the opening idea that GOP-sympathetic hispanics would inevitably be offended by the GOP's immigration stance.

    6. Can anyone paraphrase CSH's argument here? Maybe my brain's started a bit slow today, because though it looks, rhetorically, like a serious and possibly even original argument, I can't actually get the gist of what he's saying.


    7. Adam, I'll take one last crack at this, modifying real-world examples. According to Wikipedia, the two reasonably-discrete American cultural groups that have the highest a) income and b) education are Hindus and Jews. Imagine a (blessed) future time when the GOP is blind to (almost) everything that isn't accomplishment; in such a happy world we might imagine quite a few more Hindus and Jews being attracted to such a party, which is presently off-putting to such minorities due to xenophobia and other factors.

      Now let's suppose that our future GOP, populated by aspirational members of all tribes and ethnicities, presented an opportunity to immigrate a large number of Jews or Hindus who would be dilutive to their tribes' current very high SES or education levels. Assume further that the dilutive impact of the low education or income capacity of the immigrants was more or less permanent (this is an unrealistic assumption in the real world, as the more likely outcome with such groups is rapid assimilation and disappearance of such differences. But work with me here).

      From there: let's suppose the other tribes in the GOP tent resisted the importation of the new Hindus or Jews that were going to be more or less permanently dilutive on education or SES. One more assumption: the Jews and Hindus in this scenario know that the resistance from other tribes is entirely due to the imports' limited educational or productive capacity, and not thinly-veiled racism.

      Now the Hindus or Jews in this scenario would be "offended" by the effort to keep their people out of the tent. That's natural, no? But would they be offended? As in - we're-not-gonna-caucus-with-the-high-achievement-people-unless-they-cater-to-our-low-achievement-brethren?

      That's much less clear.

    8. See, but I'm not seeing why achievement should be the coin of the realm.

      As a party, the primary goal of the GOP (as it should be for the Dems) should be to win elections. That takes some combination of three things: getting "your" folks to vote, getting the "others" not to vote, and convincing those who are undecided to vote for your side (maybe even consider becoming "one of you"). (It also takes a LARGE AMOUNT OF LUCK, but that's outside of your control. That luck is mostly seen through the effects of the economy on the election, but then the answer becomes simple: a party should do what it THINKS helps the economy)

      In this conception, immigration reform is bad for the GOP, because it likely does nothing for #1, and only helps #2. OPPOSING immigration reform would seem to make #2 and #3 less likely, and while it might help #1 at the margins, that's already pretty much maximized.

      My problem is that, from a party's perspective, the only rational reason to keep people out of your party's tent is that their presence in your tent would hurt you with some part of 1-3. For example, Palin--gooses #1 up a tad, but is absolute poison for #2 and #3.

      I can't see the GOP opposing immigration reform out of some concern that the new immigrants will somehow "dilute" the power of folks in the GOP WITHIN the GOP. The only way I could see that is that the Minutemen-types might object to immigration reform not just because they don't like the policy, but they might also be afraid that it would WORK, which would make the Minutemen-types kinda, well, anachronistic if not just plain perverse.

      However, I could definitely see any manner of GOP politician concerned on immigration reform because they're concerned they're adding votes to the D tally.

      Conservative ideology might involve a fetishization of individual wealth, but I don't see why the GOP would necessarily have to do that. And, I think that we're talking about numbers big enough and driven by societal stereotypes enough that any "high-performing" individual really is already lost in a see of their fellows. My fellow academics, being hyper-liberal as many of them are, doesn't make me want there to be fewer academics.....

  7. " economic need) that brings low-cost labor into the United States, "

    The US economy does not need more low-cost labor at present unless someone values the preferences of employers of low skilled labor as all important and the concerns of American workers and taxpayers count for nothing. This value preference may make sense to lobbyists and consultants who depend on the wealthy for their income. It makes little sense for politicians who need the votes of ordinary Americans to win elections.


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