Nothing President Bush has done in his entire administration has more deeply alienated the conservatives who have supported him since his days as governor of Texas than the amnesty plan for illegal aliens he released last week—not the Iraq war, not his internal security policies, not even his Medicare reforms.
The Washington Times, Human Events, the American Conservative Union and even some at National Review have all rejected the immigration proposal.
So who supports it? The neo-conservatives, of course, who are usually preoccupied with pushing the country into wars all over the world and fabricating reports about weapons of mass destruction.
Linda Chavez, the neocons' professional Republican Hispanic Woman, virtually endorsed the plan or at least its fallacious premise that illegal alien labor is needed to keep the price of lettuce down.
That claim has been refuted repeatedly by real economists, but Miss Chavez seems not to have heard. Even if she had, her job is to provide support for the Republican Party, and she knows what she's is paid for.
But she's not the only neocon to embrace the amnesty. New York Post columnist John Podhoretz, son of neocon guru Norman Podhoretz, not only embraced it at once but is virtually in love with it—not just because he thinks it will draw Hispanic voters to the Republican Party but also because the whole pro-immigration concept promises to destroy the party's conservative base that the neocons hate.
The president's plan, Mr. Podhoretz writes, seeks to "transform not only the political debate in the United States but the Republican Party as well." It does so because by attracting Third World immigrants into the party, the native white base that has sustained the GOP since the days of Lincoln will be overwhelmed.
"In the 20th century," he writes, "the Republican Party was not, to put it mildly, the party of immigrants. The key pieces of legislation limiting immigration and the rights of foreign-born peoples were designed and championed by Republicans.". [W's Immigration Plan: A New GOP, January 8, 2004, by John Podhoretz]
He cites the 1924 law that enforced ethnic quotas for immigration, the 1986 Simpson-Mazzoli bill and California's Proposition 187 in 1994, as well as the conservative critics of mass immigration, who range, he writes, "from the respectable precincts of National Review to the hatemongering nativism growing like fetid algae in the Pat Buchanan fever swamps."
You can sort of tell where Mr. Podhoretz is coming from, can't you?
In general, he's right that Republicans have almost always favored immigration controls. [VDARE.COM note: And they were not alone—see Paul Gottfried]. Many of the Northern abolitionists who founded the party were Protestant clergymen who feared and opposed the arrival of hordes of Irish Catholics.
The basic reason the GOP has supported immigration restrictions is that, whatever else it is, it is a nationalist party.
It was political nationalism that Lincoln supported in his resistance to Southern secession and economic nationalism that Teddy Roosevelt and most other Republicans supported in their protectionism.
And the understanding that American nationality was rooted in the European stock that settled and developed the political institutions, economy, language and culture of the nation was the underlying reason for the party's support for strenuous immigration control.
Those who wished to conserve that identity agreed with and supported the Republicans in this.
That is why they were called "conservatives."
And that is why gentlemen like Mr. Podhoretz and ladies like Miss Chavez and their tribe cannot be called conservatives in any meaningful sense.
Mr. Podhoretz argues that the party's opposition to immigration "became a major political problem for it in the 1990s." Not really. The party's base remains overwhelmingly grounded in the country's white native majority, and Prop 187 helped Republicans win a congressional majority in 1994.
But it's more than political tactics that Mr. Podhoretz is trying to sell. As he writes, the amnesty plan will "transform" the Republican Party. Not only will it supposedly bring into the party all the Third World immigrants who now vote Democratic but also, by doing so and simply by putting the party on record as supporting mass immigration, it will make Republican support for serious immigration control measures in the future almost impossible.
The "hatemongering nativism" of "the Pat Buchanan fever swamps" will die because it will become politically impossible—and so will most of the rest of the conservatism those "fever swamps" breed.
That's why phony conservatives like the neocons are on board for open borders.
Of course, opposition to immigration, whether from Pat Buchanan populist conservatives or conventional Republicans, is not the "hatemongering" or "fever swamp" Mr. Podhoretz rants about, and that kind of opposition will probably be immensely helped by the president's flawed plan.
As noted, conservatives are already mobilizing to stop the amnesty.
Hopefully, this time, they'll leave the phony-cons like Miss Chavez and Mr. Podhoretz behind.
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[Sam Francis [email him] is a nationally syndicated columnist. A selection of his columns, America Extinguished: Mass Immigration And The Disintegration Of American Culture, is now available from Americans For Immigration Control. Click here for Sam Francis' website. Click here to order his monograph, Ethnopolitics: Immigration, Race, and the American Political Future and here for Glynn Custred's review.]