While it may be fun and profitable for journalists like Chip Reid to repeat GOP talking points about the defeat of the immigration bill being bad for the Democrats, it doesn’t really hold up to the reality test. Over at TPM Josh Marshall has a brief recap of Pete Wilson’s personally successful exploitation of anti-immigration politics in California that lead to the collapse of the California Republican party. It’s worth revisiting because the lure for Republican candidates to stoke their own success while sabotaging the party is strong. With the collapse of the immigration bill, Josh points out something that I think it’s important to remember:
Now, some people might say that Democratic votes in addition to Republican votes helped to scuttle the bill in the senate. But this ignores the salient fact that Republican opposition to the immigration bill — not just in the senate but across the board — has been overwhelmingly nativist in character. Democratic opposition has tended to focus either on the guest worker provision or other details of the bill. It’s really as simple as that, indeed so simple it barely requires saying.
This whole episode has branded the Republicans as the anti-immigrant party. And that’s not good for a party that wants to compete for the votes of America’s largest bloc of new immigrant voters.
I know it’s always good for the Republicans, except when it’s not, and when it comes to immigration, they’re screwed.