The biggest loser in yesterday’s vote is clearly the immigration restrictionist wing of the GOP. It is fairly clear that its argument that the Latino vote was not that critical, once quite demonstrably true, is true no longer. There may actually now be a “McGovern majority” of liberals and minorities — as Rod Dreher pointed out — which did not yet exist in 2000 or 2004. While we all have learned much from Steve Sailer, his argument that the GOP should follow a white-based electoral strategy is now simply doomed.
It is now evident that the last chance for prudent (and GOP saving) immigration restriction was the late 1990s. Then it could have been bipartisan: the late Barbara Jordan, a popular black congresswoman from Texas who was aware of the problems a large influx of new low-wage immigrants posed for America’s actually existing low-income workers, was a willing partner. But the restrictionist coalition was outmaneuvered, in some cases simply overwhelmed.
The neoconservatives waged during those years a fierce campaign against restrictionist leadership at the elite level, letting William F. Buckley know in no uncertain terms that they considered John O’Sullivan’s and Peter Brimelow’s trumpeting of the “national question” in National Review evocative of the most pernicious of anti-Semitic tropes. National Review changed editors. Other conservatives who supported immigration restriction lost their jobs as well.
Immigration restrictionism survived of course, pushed to the Internet. But once immigration restriction became a semi-populist cause, and took on, in some instances, a racialist tinge, it was finished. Perhaps there will arrive a day when the political leadership of American Latinos and Asians decide that America is crowded enough. Until then, no Republican leader is going to go near “self-deportation” or anything resembling it.
There is an irony here: for the other big loser in the election is the pro-Israeli right of American politics, especially the very neocons who trounced the restrictionists in the late 1990s. They bet heavily on Romney, and have come up empty. Sheldon Adelson was zero for six on the races he got involved in. The millions of new immigrant voters show precious little interest in the imperial foreign policy the neocons want, and indeed, many of their children have become leaders of pro-Palestine politics on American campuses. No small irony.
What is a Buchananite from the nineties to make of this mixed result? America is clearly, irrevocably, moving past it Europeanist stage. And is likely, perhaps for that very reason, to be as little inclined to imperialist “nation-building” projects as at any time since the 19th century. Add social issues to the mix. Clearly the election results point to the left. Gay marriage seems inevitable, for one thing. And yet one reason to oppose gay marriage was that it seemed a sort of assault on the institution of traditional marriage. But is that true? Was it ever? David Blankenhorn has recently been making the argument that the troubled, weakening institution of marriage actually needs the support of new people who want to join it, grow it, etc. I increasingly suspect he is right. In any case, we are going to find out.
I hope to see Obama move “left” on foreign policy — wind down the drone wars, push hard for a Palestinian state (if it’s not too late; if it is, we can begin to talk about voting rights for all the people in one state), explore the possibility of a detente with Iran. And move to the right on fiscal issues — revisit Simpson-Bowles, see if Romney (who gave an extraordinarily gracious concession speech) really does have any good ideas on entitlement reform. Part of the very large anti-Obama vote is based on serious worry about the deficits, about becoming “like Greece”. If Obama leaves office with a deficit larger than the present one, he will be failed president no matter what else he does.