It’s probably not fair to pick on this Andres Oppenheimer guy, because he’s just doing what political writers across the country do. But I’m going to anyway. He leads a recent column thusly:
Judging from Republican House leaders’ latest objections to an immigration bill that would legalize up to 11 million undocumented immigrants, it looks like the Republican Party has not learned the lesson from its 2012 electoral defeat — and that it won’t win a presidential election anytime soon.
Just as I forecast in this column early last year that Republicans would get clobbered in the November elections because of their anti-immigration, Hispanic-allergic rhetoric, it’s safe to predict that — once again — Republicans will kill their chances for the 2016 elections by continuing to sound like the “anti-Hispanic” party…
Yeah, OK — if you’re talking about the presidential election, failing to get on board with comprehensive immigration reform could hurt in 2016. Maybe.
What I object to, because it speaks with the central flaw in political coverage in this country, is when he asserts that “the Republican Party has not learned the lesson from its 2012 electoral defeat.”
To which I have to say, “What defeat?” We’re talking about House Republicans. Current House Republicans. Not people who used to be in the House, but were defeated, and therefore aren’t there anymore. Every current member of the House Republican Caucus is someone won election or re-election in 2012. I’m going to go out on a limb here (not knowing the details of each and every House member’s electoral strategy) and say that lots of them ran as the kind of guy (or gal) who would be against a path to citizenship for illegals. And I’ll go further and say that as they look forward to running for re-election from their gerrymandered districts (with minorities, including Hispanic minorities, carefully drawn out of them), their biggest worry is having a primary opponent who would come across as more against a path to citizenship than they are.
Who gets elected president in 2016 is not their problem. Who gets elected to their congressional seats in 2014 is. The Framers designed it this way — the House is set up to be concerned with narrower time frames and narrower constituencies, which of course have become even narrower as lines have been drawn according to ethnic and ideological considerations.
Too much political coverage and commentary is written as though each political party is some amorphous mass which the entire country is either for or against at a given moment. But the world isn’t that way. Each candidate may get some help from his party, perhaps a lot of help, but each race — whether it’s a House election or for the presidency — is decided based upon factors specific to the candidates, what happens during the time in which they are running, the way the district is drawn (in the case of district elections), who can raise the most money, who gets his message across most forcefully, and a lot of silly things such as who has the most name recognition, or who says the stupidest thing that gets reported on.
It would be nice if those House Republicans did look at a bigger picture. It would actually be good for the country. But if they don’t, don’t say they failed to learn the lesson from their 2012 defeat, because they did just fine in 2012.