When I started this blog in June 2006 my primary focus was immigration. That focus intensified as I finished my book on new immigrant communities in the mid-Atlantic states. Back then I argued that the GOP’s position on immigration, particularly their anti-Latino positions, would one day prove to be political suicide.
It appears that day has finally come.
Since President Obama’s victory on November 6 I’ve been reading the commentaries from Republicans and Democrats, and it’s clear that the 2012 election has been a wake-up call for many in the GOP. The Washington Post’s Michael Gerson, whose support of Mitt Romney failed to see the coming train wreck before it took place, today wrote that “Republicans will need to develop a more humane, proactive role for government in helping the working class. And they will need to stop actively alienating the fastest-growing ethnic group in the United States.”
His sentiment was echoed by David Brooks, who summarized the GOP dilemma on the PBS NewsHour as: “You know, the fundamental issue is that this is a country that is an incredibly diverse country that has changed demographically, a lot more Latinos, a lot more Asian -Americans, a lot more single women, a lot more single men, and a lot more college-educated men. And, culturally, the Republican Party didn’t move.”
I would add that the Republican Party did move, but they were trying to move backwards. What they found is that isn’t possible. You either appeal to the new and growing majority, or you become increasingly irrelevant.
There are, of course, conservatives who simply refuse to believe the reality before them. George Will is a notable example. He seems to think that the GOP’s ability to hold onto the House indicates that America wants the status quo. What he fails to realize that the status quo is a forward momentum. The nation will ratify same-sex marriage one state at a time, Latinos will vote, hopefully in ever greater numbers, and many Americans think that government is not the big enemy, but useful tool in regulating and supporting the lives of the citizenry.
I sincerely hope that President Obama will sieze the momentum of the election and begin his second term focusing on immigration reform, which is long overdue.