On Immigration, Cantor was a Radical, not a Moderate

Why don’t Republican leaders understand what the Left is about? The answer is that GOP leaders are paid by business interests to tunnel vision on the “cheap labor” needs of corporate executives.  If the Obama vision of a transformed America continues into the next administration, the America of the Founding Fathers may well be lost in an irredeemable fashion.


By William R. Hawkins | June 16, 2014

The issue that allowed economics professor David Brat to defeat House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in the June 10 Virginia primary was immigration policy. President Obama’s vision of “comprehensive immigration reform” attracted enough GOP votes in the Senate (though not a majority) to pass last year, thanks to the work of prominent Republicans like Senators John McCain and Marco Rubio. House Speaker John Boehner and Leader Cantor were eager to pass it in the House as well, combining a minority of Republicans with all the Democrats to enact sweeping legislation over the objections of the party base and most of its Congressional members. They were stopped from doing so because senior members of the GOP House caucus like my former boss Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) threatened to remove Boehner from his leadership post if he moved any bill to the floor that did not have majority support among Republicans.

Yet, even in defeat, Cantor continued to call for working with the Democrats on immigration issues. This is not a “moderate” versus “conservative” issue as the media would have it because there is nothing moderate about Obama’s drive to “transform” America by granting amnesty and eventual citizenship to 11 million (or more) currently illegal aliens. It is the most radical idea in a generation, and born on the far Left. Democratic unanimity on providing foreigners a “path to the voting booth” should be enough to warn all Republicans of the danger. And if that is not enough, there are plenty of left-wingers openly talking about the new racial politics which they hope will overwhelm American society.

In early 2008, David Bacon, author of The Children of NAFTA and a member of the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Committee of the Bay Area Immigrant Rights Coalition in California wrote a column for The American Prospect entitled “Black and Brown Together.” His theme, “In Mississippi, African American leaders are the foremost champions of the state’s growing Latino immigrant population. Some day soon, they hope, the new alliance will transform the state’s reactionary politics….The same calculus can also apply across the South, which is now the entry point for a third of all new immigrants into the U.S.” The objective is to undo the “southern strategy” of Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan which once promised “a new Republican Majority” that would endure for generations. Last year, American Prospect staff writer Jamelle Bouie noted, “immigration from Latin America and African American outmigration from Northern states has gradually turned many Southern states into battlegrounds.” This change has already taken place in Bacon’s California.

Why don’t Republican leaders understand what the Left is about? The answer is that GOP leaders are paid by business interests to tunnel vision on the “cheap labor” needs of corporate executives. As Wall Street Journal reporters stated June 10, “Mr. Cantor’s defeat marked an unexpected and staggering turn in this year’s primary-election season, overturning the building narrative that Republican Party leaders and allied business groups had trampled the GOP’s tea-party wing, which has fought to push the party to the political right.” The Chamber of Commerce has pushed hard for passage of immigration amnesty. Chamber President Tom Donohue even threatened the GOP on May 12, “If the Republicans don’t do it, they shouldn’t bother to run a candidate in 2016.”

Yet, Cantor did not lose because of lack of campaign funding from the business community. Indeed, the “country club” GOP has raised plenty of money in losing campaigns for decades. Money cannot make up for bad ideas, lack of a compelling message or adverse demographics. The Chamber of Commerce is pushing the GOP towards failure on all three points.

In the New York Times, former GOP Speaker Newt Gingrich was quoted, “What the Republican establishment and the Chamber of Commerce don’t understand is that there’s a large element of America that wants a fight.” The reawakening of the Right within the GOP is not a move to shrink the base of the party as the liberal media likes to claim. It is an attempt to broaden the appeal of the party to those segments of the middle and working classes to whom the “country club” leadership has had nothing to say.

There is a huge well of discontent that Republicans are poised to tap into in this year’s Congressional elections. But at the national level, the GOP leadership seems no more ready to mobilize traditional center-right voters for 2016 than it was in 2012. It is in the next presidential election that the lessons of Cantor’s defeat need to be applied. If the Obama vision of a transformed America continues into the next administration, the America of the Founding Fathers may well be lost in an irredeemable fashion.


William R. Hawkins, a former economics professor and Congressional staffer, is a consultant specializing in international economics and national security issues. He is a contributor to SFPPR News & Analysis.