While conservatives were holding the line they drew in the sand to keep the very liberal Rudy Giuliani from gaining the Republican nomination, John McCain did an end run around us. While I, like Mike Huckabee, believe in miracles, it appears we will be stuck with McCain, warts and all.
In short, as president, he will do a lot less damage to the country than Hillary or Obama and most conservatives like me will end up voting for him, but we are not happy about it.
That kind of lukewarm response is not likely to get him elected. In order to win, he needs the party faithful to give until it hurts and work until they drop in order to get out the vote.
Presently, Democrats enjoy a 5.6 percentage point advantage in party affiliation. However, neither party can win without the support of independents which make up roughly one-third of the electorate.
Conventional wisdom is that there is nothing that McCain can do to energize the base that won’t turn off independents. Nothing could be further than the truth.
While there are many issues that divide us, there is one issue McCain can embrace that will unite voters across the political spectrum, but that would require a major policy shift on his part – the issue of illegal immigration.
McCain’s victories in the early primaries aren’t because of his views on immigration. It is in spite of them – and a case of misleading rhetoric. Yes, McCain is now saying he’s “heard us” and will “secure the borders first,” but what comes second? Anyone who has been paying careful attention knows the answer to that question – amnesty. While his campaign has taken off, that is why it likely will not reach the desired destination.
Rarely in American politics has there been an issue that has the ability to energize and connect voters like this one issue. According to a Rasmussen poll done last summer 69 percent of voters favor an approach that focuses exclusively on securing the border and reducing illegal immigration. Support for the “enforcement only” approach comes from 84 percent of Republicans, 55 percent of Democrats and 69 percent of those prized independents.
While few favor going out and rounding up illegal aliens for deportation, most favor a orderly process. The same Rasmussen poll showed that 57 percent favor a proposal of “giving all illegal aliens up to three years to leave the United States.” If they wish to return, voters want them to get in line and wait their turn like everyone else. Support for that concept comes from 67 percent of Republicans, 49 percent of Democrats and 56 percent of independents.
Another Rasmussen poll found that:
• 79 percent favor a proposal requiring employers to fire workers who use false identification documents.
• 74 percent agree that if a person wants to rent an apartment, he or she should be required to show documents proving they are legally in the U.S.
Cracking down on illegal immigration is a winning issue even among Latinos – the group that McCain is so afraid of offending. A McLaughlin & Associates poll conducted in April found that:
• 82 percent of Latinos support requiring voters to show valid identification to prevent fraud.
• 73 percent agree with a tamper-proof identification card system to establish which applicants are legal immigrants.
• 67 percent think that repealing local sanctuary laws allowing illegal immigrants to avoid punishment is a good idea.
• 59 percent want to prohibit the issuing of drivers’ licenses to illegal immigrants by the state.
• 53 percent support altering our citizenship laws so that a child born in the U.S. does not automatically become a citizen, but must have a parent who is a citizen in order to do so.
More recent polls conducted in the early primary states show that voters have not changed their minds about this issue. Illegal immigration has been at or near the top of most lists of concerns.
McCain doesn’t have to crash and burn in the general election. Immigration is the one issue that can energize conservatives and attract independents and Democrats. There is nothing honorable about insuring rich people and corporations a steady supply of cheap labor at the expense of hard working taxpayers. All McCain has to do to win the election is be man enough to say that he was wrong about allowing those who have broken into this country to stay, permanently.
That isn’t likely to happen. McCain’s obstinance is well documented and is likely to cost him the very thing he desires most. In short, he is his own worst enemy.