Immigration, The GOP, And The Modern Mehlman Monstrosity
“In the further interest of American workmen we favor a more effective restriction of the immigration of cheap labor from foreign lands.”—The GOP Platform on Immigration…in 1900!
It is safe to say that, as of late, I have become disenchanted with Monsieur Le Président George II. However, on the off-chance I left you with the impression that my displeasure stopped with Bush II, let me assure you, it extends to the contemporary RNC-at-large.
The Republican National Committee is supposed to raise money for Republican candidates/causes and promote membership…well, that is what it normally does.
Under Ken Mehlman—the former Bush White House staffer who is current President of the RNC—it seems to be on a different mission: raise money and promote Bush love.
On the whole, as a Republican consultant, I don’t even recognize the RNC anymore.
“As the Washington Post reported, Mr. Mehlman argued that Mr. Bush won largely by ‘broadening his appeal among key swing constituencies, including Roman Catholics, Latinos and suburban women.’ Predictably, he maintained that ‘the single most important number that has come out of the election’ is the 44 percent Hispanic support the president supposedly won this year. [GOP Governors Celebrate Party Wins |Tutorial on Bush Campaign Strategies Shows What Went Right, By Dan Balz, November 19, 2004]
" ‘Future Republican majorities will depend in part on the party's ability to expand its support among Hispanic voters, and 2004 may have been a significant step in that direction if GOP candidates can build on it,’ the Post reported him as telling the national meeting of Republican governors in New Orleans last month.
[Hold on…blech, puke, retch…ok, just had to get that out.]
In December, RNC Chairman Mehlman spoke at the Republican Governor’s Association meeting [December 1, 2005, speech transcript here] in Carlsbad, California. He was still at it. He said:
"Today, somewhere in this country, there’s a family new to America. They might be a family of migrant workers, or day laborers.
They might be here in California—or Texas—or Florida. They woke up today and went to work. They will come home at the end of the day to spend time with their children. They will eventually buy a house—or start a business—or write a book.
They are building a new life.
And that’s what America is all about.”
(My nausea is back…thanks, Ken.)
The proof is in the pudding. Successive GOP platform planks on immigration reform are perhaps the starkest example of the differences between the modern Mehlman monstrosity and the Republican Party of old:
From the 1912 GOP Platform: “We pledge the Republican party to the enactment of appropriate laws to give relief from the constantly growing evil of induced or undesirable immigration, which is inimical to the progress and welfare of the people of the United States.”
From the 1920 GOP Platform: “The immigration policy of the U. S. should be such as to insure that the number of foreigners in the country at any one time shall not exceed that which can be assimilated with reasonable rapidity, and to favor immigrants whose standards are similar to ours.”
From the 1928 GOP Platform: “The Republican Party believes that in the interest of both native and foreign-born wage-earners, it is necessary to restrict immigration…(we support) the restriction of immigration which not only prevents the glutting of our labor market, but allows to our newer immigrants a greater opportunity to secure a footing in their upward struggle.”
From the 1932 GOP Platform: “The restriction of immigration is a Republican policy…provisions of the law have enabled the President to suspend immigration of foreign wage-earners who otherwise, directly or indirectly, would have increased unemployment among native-born and legally resident foreign-born wage-earners in this country.”
Side note: Between 1932 and 1972 the Party platform maintained a continuous stance of immigration restriction—I simply didn’t have room to include all of the quotes.
From the 1972 GOP Platform: “We stand for an equitable, non-discriminatory immigration policy…and the selective admission of the specially talented. The immigration process must be just and orderly, and we will increase our efforts to halt the illegal entry of aliens into the United States.” The 1980 GOP Platform (Reagan election year!): “We believe that to the fullest extent possible those immigrants should be admitted who will make a positive contribution to America and who are willing to accept the fundamental American values and way of life.” And more to the point…“Immigration into this country must not be determined solely by foreign governments or even by the millions of people around the world who wish to come to America.”
I miss Ronnie.
From the 1984 GOP Platform: “Those [immigrants] desiring to enter (the US) must comply with our immigration laws. Failure to do so not only is an offense to the American people but is fundamentally unjust to those in foreign lands patiently waiting for legal entry.”
“With the estimates of the number of illegal aliens in the United States ranging as high as 12 million…”
Yeah…even in 1984 the estimate was 12 million.
The 1996 GOP Platform was probably the last example of respectable guidelines within the Republican Party.
“We must set immigration at manageable levels, balance the competing goals of uniting families of our citizens and admitting especially talented persons, and end asylum abuses through expedited exclusion of false claimants.”
“Illegal aliens should not receive public benefits other than emergency aid, and those who become parents while illegally in the United States should not be qualified to claim benefits for their offspring….”
“Legal immigrants should depend for assistance on their sponsors, who are legally responsible for their financial well-being, not the American taxpayers.”
“We support a constitutional amendment or constitutionally-valid legislation declaring that children born in the United States of parents who are not legally present in the United States or who are not long-term residents are not automatically citizens.”
Whimper, whimper…that was the end—the bitter end.
And, by amazing coincidence, that was the last convention I attended as a consultant for the Republican Party…
After the Dole/Kemp days ended, so did any pretence at conservative principles and well…rational thought!
From the 2000 GOP Platform:
“To ensure fairness for those wishing to reside in this country, and to meet the manpower needs of our expanding economy, a total overhaul of the immigration system is sorely needed.”
Meet the manpower needs or jobs Americans won’t do…wait a minute—yep, I’m going to be sick again. The 2000 GOP Platform carried the first message—albeit subtle—of guest worker programs. In 2004 however, even subtlety was abandoned.
From the 2004 GOP Platform: “A growing economy requires a growing number of workers, and President Bush has proposed a new temporary worker program that applies when no Americans can be found to fill the jobs.” The new GOP also “addressed” the pressing problem—that would be the gazillion illegal aliens already living here: “This new program would allow workers who currently hold jobs to come out of the shadows and to participate legally in America’s economy. It would allow men and women who enter the program to apply for citizenship in the same manner as those who apply from outside the United States.”
Yeah…20 million law-breaking illegal aliens get the same place in line as that woman who sits in the Sudan, year after year, applying for legal entry only to be denied because we don’t have room.
If that isn’t compassionate conservatism, what is…?
Alright, that’s enough…I can’t take anymore without IV fluid to circumvent the nausea-induced dehydration…or a rope to simply hang myself.
This might explain why I spend very little time in campaign work anymore—I have neither the inclination nor the patience to deal with quacks. (Well, I mean other than those I am directly related to and therefore cursed to …mom.)
Then again, more than one politician throughout my brief tenure in politics commented on my quirky and oh, disagreeable way of putting things.
Let me explain:
I love pearls, ok? They make everything look good—I wear mine even with cut-off jeans and a Pink Floyd t-shirt (circa 1969) when I work in the garden and it works, people.
But I would never put pearl earrings on a shark hoping to soften the gruesome image given off by their ten rows of large, razor sharp teeth. Why not? Because even a man in coma would sit up any say “wait a second…”—well, that and sharks don’t have ears. (Jeez…do I have to explain everything??)
On that note, this is my über professional advice for the current RNC regime:
1. The sitting President of the United States is a termed-out Republican. You RNC people have one job—one—to find another (as in different) Republican candidate and get him elected…Bush ain’t your man no mo’, m’kay?
2. The RNC was never designed to be some Madison Avenue, it’s all about the pay-out so let’s create a pop star and forget the real talent kind of organization.
3. The RNC is not supposed to be a warehouse of reward jobs for loyal, lucky and leftover lackeys from the Bush II reign.
Speaking of Mehlman…
Interestingly enough, according to a recent US News story on immigration reform and the RNC, a GOP insider said:
"Mehlman is concerned that we might become the party of Tom Tancredo…” [White House Watch: RNC chair plans Hispanic outreach By Kenneth T. Walsh December 13, 2005]
Yeah…I’m counting on it.