We Republicans were obviously, openly, shockingly wrong regarding the election this week. We truly thought that the US was a center-right country and that after four years of experiment on the rather far left-of-center that a return to the mean was in order; that the president would be turned out of office. What did we miss in the American electorate, and what did the Romney campaign miss in that same electorate that allowed a president presiding over four years of obviously weak economic growth, horrific jobless levels and general dismay at future prospects to remain in office?
We missed, and the rest of the Republican Party missed, the massive shift of the demographics taking place. We believe that the slow, conservative path and a respect for tradition are worthy and right. We are, therefore, somewhat “radical” in our orthodoxy, for we really do believe that the Founding Fathers created a government here that is conservative in nature and slow to respond to change, fearful that “faction,” as James Madison referred to it, might well over-run other minorities and even perhaps the majority if given the time and the levers to do so.
Even so, when we speak, we take a rather “radical” approach to immigration, believing that there is wisdom in the statement that rarely inhistory has anyone risked their life to get to Russia, or China or even perhaps Europe. Immigrants, however, risk their lives all the time to get to the US and yet our associates on the Right wish to bar immigration or make it more and more difficult to come here. We have said countless times, “Shame on our friends on the Right who abjure immigration and immigrants.” Our grandparents were immigrants; our mother was an immigrant. We remember the pride she had in making the Pledge of Allegiance to the United States when we were a child and we remember the beaming faces of those attending that event who were equally as proud to have come to America to become Americans.
Instead of making it difficult to come to the US, we should embrace those risking their lives to get here; who work on fictitious Social Security numbers, paying into the system with no hope ever of getting anything back; who support their families back in Mexico, or Honduras, or Egypt et al; who do the work that Americans seem unwilling to do and who make a new life here.
It is shameful how we’ve treated these people who, in all likelihood, would be long-standing, enthusiastic supporters of the center right. Immigrants steeped in religion and with strong work ethics should find themselves embraced by the Republican Party; instead they find themselves shunned and we find ourselves embarrassed in the process. The Republicans lost the election this week as a result of their shameful record on immigration.
The country is changing; there are now more unmarried women than married women living in the US; there are more non-white children born in the US now than white children. Women working outside the homes are often the “breadwinner” and all too often the only one. And yet the Republican Party misses that fact and gives these women little if any reason to embrace Republicanism. This has to stop.
We on the right should be ashamed of how we’ve missed these demographic changes, but if the right begins to understand that the ground is indeed shifting beneath its feet and embraces an ecumenical rather than a parochial perspective then two years hence and certainly four years hence, the ground can be retaken by the right. Where is this generation’s Jack Kemp? Where is our Ronald Reagan? Instead we have small thinkers, mean thinkers, demographically blind thinkers. And with them we lose.