If you read the papers and listen to the news, you know the Republican Party is in the tank. The Iraq War is ongoing, billions are being spent that Americans know should be going to domestic projects and Mr. Bush keeps adding to his disaster résumé with every decision he makes.
"What a great chance for America to elect its first women President! " I hear many Democratic colleagues saying, as Hillary develops a lead that seems decisive.
As today's Washington Post story entitled "GOP Finds Hot Button in Illegal Immigration" [By Jonathan Weisman, October 23, 2007] reports, in a special election in Massachusetts in a heavily Democratic Congressional District, the well-known Democrat Niki Tsongas, widow of former Senator Paul Tsongas, won this past Tuesday—but only by a slim margin.
Why? Well, "The [Republican challenger's] campaign needed a way to go beyond [his excellently credentialed] biography, to persuade Northern Massachusetts to vote Republican. They found it in illegal immigration."
A month earlier he had been running way behind. But "this issue has real implications for the country. It captures all the American people's anger and frustration not only with immigration, but with the economy," Rep. Rahm Emmanuel (Ill.), chairman of the House Democratic Caucus and an architect of the Democratic congressional victories of 2006, is quoted as saying. "It's self-evident. This is a big problem."
Furthermore, the Post's Weisman reports: "Republicans, sensing a major vulnerability, have been hammering Democrats, forcing Congress to face the question of illegal immigration on every bill they can find, from agriculture spending and housing assistance to the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP)."
Democrats are really between a rock and a hard place on this issue. Hispanic votes are a major part of their base. But they should be looking hard at the nasty incursions which this massive intake of illegal and legal aliens has been making on tax supported services and the constant attempts to expand those giveaways to illegal aliens which are being sponsored by big employers, the Catholic Bishops and the Hispanic lobbyists.
The economy for the middle and working class American citizens ain't that rosy. And the fat cat salaries of the Fortune 500 CEOs are making many from both parties upset. Since Congress and the President got elected on the big money from those in the catbird seat, many Americans feel disenfranchised. Especially when many local cities and towns try immigration reform and get clobbered with law suits by the pro-open borders ACLU, while the Feds do nothing about protecting our ports and borders. And then there are the constant stories about Border Patrol Agents Ramos and Compean serving big jail time for shooting an alien drug smuggler.
Further, perhaps rather than repeating low voter turnout, many Americans, who see their country being given away to aliens, to China, to Iraq War profiteers, and other special interest hand-outs (hey, do you know about "earmarks"? Betcha do!) by our Federal government, will turn out in greater numbers.
So a candidate that is strong on real immigration reform–not "comprehensive" immigration reform, now well understood to be another massive amnesty–may very well appeal to enough voters in 2008 to overcome the deep hole that Bush has dug for his Party.
Remember Hillary has baggage too and her final pitch on her stance on this possible swing vote issue will be important. However, voters should understand that if she is elected, she will not accomplish real immigration reform because she simply can't change the swing weight of her party's direction—just as Bush can't off his religious conservative base.
The Post's Weisman reports,
"A new national poll for National Public Radio, conducted by the Democratic polling firm Greenberg Quinlan Rosner, and the Republican firm Public Opinion Strategies, found that voters are more likely to side with Democrats than Republicans on war, taxes and spending, the economy, health care and health insurance for children, often by wide margins. On immigration, the Republicans hold a 49 to 44 percent lead".
But this same pollster thinks that immigration margin may be deceptive! Some Democrats are saying it is impractical to expel 12 million people. But, Folks, that is not where the American people are on this issue. They don't want another big amnesty, they want real action.
As the Post quotes Chairman Emanuel, (D-Ill), "For the American people, and therefore all of us, it's emerged as the third rail of American politics. And anyone who doesn't realize that isn't with the American people."
Hillary may think she can win against a weakened Republican Party, saddled with a lame-duck cowboy President, by ignoring the need to offer real immigration reform and advocating more of the same old bipartisan bring'em-in policies.
But if she faces a credible Republican standard bearer who offers real achievable plans for immigration reform, she could be a surprise loser.
Donald A. Collins [email him], is a freelance writer living in Washington DC and a former long time member of the board of FAIR, the Federation for American Immigration Reform. His views are his own.