The immigration reform clock is ticking, but when we should set the alarm is unclear.
Republican immigration alarmists are certain that "If we don't pass immigration reform this year, we will not win the White House back in 2016, 2020, or 2024." So said John Feehery, once a top aide to former Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, in a recent New York Times article whose title reflects its perspective and most likely its purpose.
Panic peddlers, like John McCain, favor the word "must", as in Republicans "must act". Given his desire to impart urgency, a recent news item noted that "McCain stood by his past comments that Republicans would not be able to win another election race without reform."
The use of the word "must" is a favorite meme of those who want to rush Republicans into an ill-considered suicide leap. That suicide leap will not be a result of changing demographics, but rather of a panicked attempt to buy votes with poor policies.
Obviously, Republicans have to reach out to all the groups that might be responsive to their message and to educate those who are not. That's quite different from selling out your principles in the hopes of electoral gain. We already have one party that specializes in this practice.
Not quite panicked, but still dire is this assessment from the Deseret News:
On the national level, the Republican Party faces a challenge in broadening its appeal beyond its base among the white middle-class and cultural conservatives. Its inability to appeal to Hispanics was one significant aspect of its loss in the 2012 presidential contest. That's why it's so important for the party to act now to confront the threshold question of addressing immigration.
The remedy? The title of the editorial says all: "Immigration reform is needed now, not next election cycle."
What of the fact that, according to an article in the Wall Street Journal many Republicans "balked at debating an issue that divides Republicans and feared giving the president a legislative victory in an election year."
That, the Deseret News editorial says, would be "short-sighted political gamesmanship, and is not worthy of our nation's representatives."
Translation: The Republican Party should tear itself apart, and alienate core blocks of its supporters and ordinary Americans by agreeing to a bill developed behind closed doors by a small group of extremely like-minded advocates, with major players who would benefit from the bill as written trading advantages with each other.
For some immigration advocates, sometime this year is not soon enough. They want their preferences passed into law immediately and, since that will not happen, they intend to make their frustrations felt. Kica Matos, a spokeswoman for the Fair Immigration Reform Movement, is quoted as saying, "We need to continue to ramp up our efforts, and [the right needs] to get more aggressive. They need to use every conceivable tool in their toolbox to move reform forward. We threaten to be in their face every day, and we are living up to that promise."
Others are more willing to bide their time, in the hopes that Republicans will do what they know and are certain is the right thing.
Next: For Real Immigration Reform, Beat the Clock, Pt. 3