Party politics is a strange beast that I’m still trying to understand years after I started paying attention to politics. Individuals who support my blogging, suddenly become angry with me because I choose to point out the faults in a candidate, a candidate that for all intents and purposes represents everything my supporter opposes, except when that candidate represents the only viable party candidate. In other words, party politics takes over all the other issues even though the politico represents all that most complain about. This was seen in the Clinton vs Trump race, when Democrats supported Clinton blindly just because she represented the Democrat party. It is what is driving the Veronica Escobar primary in El Paso right now. It is the binary nature of the U.S. political system – you cannot go against the party’s banner bearer no matter how corrupt – because the alternative seems even worse.
This issue manifests itself poignantly for me when discussing the Republican party and immigration issues. Most people believe that the Republican party is anti-immigrant. They believe that the Democrats are the “progressive” party, especially on immigrant issues. Add global trade to the debate and it muddies the waters even further, especially regarding NAFTA.
I believe that the Republicans have been better for the plight of the immigrants.
What?!? I’m sure that is what some of you are thinking to yourselves right now, and I don’t blame you because the Republicans have been at war with themselves over immigration for years.
The stalwarts of the Republican party love to channel Ronald Reagan as one of the greatest presidents ever. Many a Republican has channeled the Reagan ghost in search for votes. The fact is that Ronald Reagan believed in open borders, the free flow of commerce between the United States and México and pushed Congress to legalize many Mexican immigrants. Reagan started the process for NAFTA. Reagan also wanted freer access for Mexican workers to come to the U.S. to work. But he was stymied by the politics of labor.
However, in the end, Ronald Reagan delivered substantial immigration reform and drove the country towards NAFTA. It was the Republicans, under George H. Bush, that delivered NAFTA to the country. The Bushes also wanted to open the immigration process, but both were stymied by political necessities.
The Democrats, on the other hand, opposed NAFTA throughout the process, until Bill Clinton reluctantly signed it as part of the Bush legacy. The Democrats have yet to deliver on any substantial immigration reform, yet they talk about it every time they can.
Many voters consider the Democrats the pro-immigrant party and the Republicans the anti-immigrant party, although the facts prove otherwise.
This erroneous notion lies directly at the feet of the Republican establishment.
Although the Republicans can muster the legislation to bring us NAFTA and legalize many Mexicans through immigration reform, their deeds are obscured by a loud minority that creates the narrative of the anti-immigrant Republicans that all believe in.
Prior to Steve Bannon and the Republican civil war that Donald Trump just unleashed, my attempts to explain this reality was met with skepticism or outright hostility.
How can you say that Republicans are better for immigrants when they hate immigrants so much is the normal retort I hear.
But, Bannon and Trump are prying open the reality that there really are two Republican parties – the pro-immigrant laborers and pro-business, or as Bannon refers to them, the globalists, and the other part of the party that is the Bannon-Trump nativists, “America First” at all costs who espouse the public hatred of immigrants and cultural diversity that the Republican party has become known for.
Now that it is open warfare between the two, it is easier to point to the part of the Republican party that delivered immigration reform and NAFTA, but remained largely behind the scenes, letting the other part of the party create the narrative everyone believes to be true.
It is too early to tell what the result of the Republican civil war will be, but I’m hoping for two scenarios, the outright win by the pro-business, pro-immigrant arm of the Republican party, or the Republican party splitting into two, with the Bannon-Trump arm continuing to be the party of hatred.