No, those House Republicans did NOT lose in 2012

It’s probably not fair to pick on this Andres Oppenheimer guy, because he’s just doing what political writers across the country do. But I’m going to anyway. He leads a recent column thusly:

Judging from Republican House leaders’ latest objections to an immigration bill that would legalize up to 11 million undocumented immigrants, it looks like the Republican Party has not learned the lesson from its 2012 electoral defeat — and that it won’t win a presidential election anytime soon.

Just as I forecast in this column early last year that Republicans would get clobbered in the November elections because of their anti-immigration, Hispanic-allergic rhetoric, it’s safe to predict that — once again — Republicans will kill their chances for the 2016 elections by continuing to sound like the “anti-Hispanic” party…

Yeah, OK — if you’re talking about the presidential election, failing to get on board with comprehensive immigration reform could hurt in 2016. Maybe.

What I object to, because it speaks with the central flaw in political coverage in this country, is when he asserts that “the Republican Party has not learned the lesson from its 2012 electoral defeat.”

To which I have to say, “What defeat?” We’re talking about House Republicans. Current House Republicans. Not people who used to be in the House, but were defeated, and therefore aren’t there anymore. Every current member of the House Republican Caucus is someone won election or re-election in 2012. I’m going to go out on a limb here (not knowing the details of each and every House member’s electoral strategy) and say that lots of them ran as the kind of guy (or gal) who would be against a path to citizenship for illegals. And I’ll go further and say that as they look forward to running for re-election from their gerrymandered districts (with minorities, including Hispanic minorities, carefully drawn out of them), their biggest worry is having a primary opponent who would come across as more against a path to citizenship than they are.

Who gets elected president in 2016 is not their problem. Who gets elected to their congressional seats in 2014 is. The Framers designed it this way — the House is set up to be concerned with narrower time frames and narrower constituencies, which of course have become even narrower as lines have been drawn according to ethnic and ideological considerations.

Too much political coverage and commentary is written as though each political party is some amorphous mass which the entire country is either for or against at a given moment. But the world isn’t that way. Each candidate may get some help from his party, perhaps a lot of help, but each race — whether it’s a House election or for the presidency — is decided based upon factors specific to the candidates, what happens during the time in which they are running, the way the district is drawn (in the case of district elections), who can raise the most money, who gets his message across most forcefully, and a lot of silly things such as who has the most name recognition, or who says the stupidest thing that gets reported on.

It would be nice if those House Republicans did look at a bigger picture. It would actually be good for the country. But if they don’t, don’t say they failed to learn the lesson from their 2012 defeat, because they did just fine in 2012.

4 thoughts on “No, those House Republicans did NOT lose in 2012

  1. Barry

    It’s always nice to get lectured to by liberals about how we should treat illegals in the United States.

    Ironically, most of them ignore how Mexico treats people that enter Mexico (legally and illegally)

    “The treatment of immigrants has become a divisive and embarrassing issue for Mexico. A country that has historically sent millions of its own people to the U.S. and elsewhere in search of work, Mexico has proved itself less than hospitable to Central Americans following the same calling.” – Amnesty International – 2010 – Invisible Victims report

    The Amnesty report says that up to 60% of female migrants suffer some form of sexual abuse; migrants are routinely forced to pay bribes; detention centers are woefully overcrowded, and victims are too terrorized to make formal complaints, rendering them “invisible.”

  2. Brad Warthen Post author

    Your last paragraph spells out a bunch of reasons why it’s better for people to be legal than illegal. That is to say, some of the reasons why we might want illegals to have a way of becoming legal.

    A couple of other points:

    1. Whether Mexico is a welcoming place for immigrants is not my problem. Whether the United States is, is. Actually, let me reword that… Any injustice anywhere in the world IS my problem (thank you, John Donne), but it is not my immediate political responsibility as a citizen, the way the laws of the United States are. And I’m glad of that. I’m blessed in that regard. I’d much, much rather be part of this country’s history of treating both immigrants and natives, than a part of Mexico’s.

    2. I don’t think it’s really very useful to talk in terms of “liberals” and “conservatives” here. Traditionally, the “liberals” who are closely allied with labor unions have been the people most opposed to the immigrants coming here, legally or illegally. Meanwhile, the “conservatives” who represent capital have tended historically to be all for the flow of cheap labor here. This makes a certain amount of hard-headed sense from both their perspectives. Both Karl Marx and Adam Smith would likely nod at the logic of the respective positions. The liberals who are throwing their arms open in welcome, and the conservatives who are so very angry about those folks being here, tend to be reacting more emotionally.

  3. Barry

    I don’t really care what Mexico does or doesn’t do. However, the political left likes us to take notice when Mexico protests our immigration policies as heavy handed. That same political left doesn’t seem to point the finger at Mexico with much gusto even though Mexico treats illegals much, much worse by many standards.

    I don’t know many people that respect a neighbor that comes over and tells you to cut your grass when their own yard is a mud hole.

    This county treats illegals quite well compared to most countries on earth. You can enter illegally and register your children for free public schooling the same day, get sick and get free health care the same day, and unless you run into a criminal, you aren’t going to have to pay the local attorney, military officer, or mayor a bribe (or be his sex slave) to live.


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