John McCain’s Immigration Problem

This post at The American Scene is worthwhile food for thought (as are most posts at The American Scene, which should be read more often). In a stark contrast to the Fred Barnes piece from yesterday, Ross Douthat argues that McCain’s efforts to find a middle ground on immigration can sink his 2008 presidential aspirations. The base, he says, supports harsher immigration restrictions and McCain’s reformist impulses will alienate him from the base, the way his comments against the religious right separated him from the base in 2000 and McCain-Feingold cut him off from libertarian conservatives prior to that.

The immigration issue doesn’t really interest me all that much as an issue, despite the consecutive posts on it. However, I think the ink spilled on immigration reveals how big the issue is, and how important getting it “right” is for the GOP (and, to a lesser extent, the Democrats, though you don’t hear about that as much). Personally, I think the restrictions-only crowd (send ’em home and build a Great Wall of Mexico) offers a simplistic solution to a complex problem that is likely to fail and could end up being the national GOP’s Proposition 187, effectively ending President Bush’s efforts to reach out to Latino voters. But I’ll be darned if I can think of a better idea that doesn’t make a mockery of our current immigration/naturalization process and isn’t a sop to the big agricultural industries that have aided and abetted our illegal immigration problem in many cases. Am I naive in thinking there is a third way between selling out to big agriculture and looking suspiciously at anyone speaking Spanish?

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