The GOP strategists once again react to getting clobbered by calling for an embrace of their (alleged) opponents’ policies.  After all, if only Romney could’ve distanced himself from pro-life fanatics and gun nuts he’d still be basking in the warm glow of victory right about now. Via American Conservative the astute Daniel Larison responds to one particularly bright idea, the “let’s out-amnesty Obama” meme:

It’s fantasy to suppose that any Republican nominee can double the amount of support Romney just received four years from now. The landscape would not be transformed, and a Republican candidate running on a me-too immigration platform would probably see turnout from his core constituencies decline yet again. Whatever amnesty proposal a Republican candidate embraces, it will be perceived at best as too little, too late by those it is supposed to win over, and it will confirm that the party leadership is oblivious if not openly hostile to what its constituents prefer. It’s a political disaster waiting to happen, and quite a few Republican pundits seem only too eager to rush towards it.

What’s most interesting here is not so much the issue of open borders itself as what is revealed about the GOP’s fundamental philosophy — and maybe even about that quintessentially American pragmatic spirit. When what you stand for hampers your odds of success, the answer is … to stand for something else?

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  1. Northern conservatism … is a party which never conserves anything. Its history has been that it demurs to each aggression of the progressive party, and aims to save its credit by a respectable amount of growling, but always acquiesces at last in the innovation. What was the resisted novelty of yesterday is today one of the accepted principles of conservatism; it is now conservative only in affecting to resist the next innovation, which will tomorrow be forced upon its timidity and will be succeeded by some third revolution; to be denounced and then adopted in its turn. American conservatism is merely the shadow that follows Radicalism as it moves forward towards perdition.
    — RL Dabney, “Women’s Rights Women” (1871)

  2. When what you stand for hampers your odds of success, the answer is … to stand for something else?

    If only the Republicans would nominate a man that embodies this principle, a man who changes his positions to fit what he perceives is desired by the electorate. He would certainly win the election!

  3. It really isn’t fair to lump the entire GOP in with some strategist who was bit the hook a reporter offered. While the Republican Party is, on the whole, much more conservative than the Democratic Party (or at least it’s leadership), parties cannot represent any ideology in a simple way if they want to win elections. As long as we rely on majorities to elect our politicians, you can expect to find something objectionable in any powerful party’s platform. And while I don’t believe “out-amnestying Obama” will gain the GOP many votes (or that it is the right thing to do), the mere fact that someone brought it up isn’t a bad thing. The GOP probably won’t become an open borders party, so this is not evidence of a Republican Party becoming more liberal on immigration. It’s simply someone thinking out loud about how Republicans might appeal to latinos, who- it is a fact- don’t seem to like Republicans much and will make up a larger part of the electorate in the future.

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