Against Dumbed-Down Conservatism: The Case of Immigration

I agree with Pejman that conservatives should reject anti-intellectualism.

Conservatives should start their rejection of the dumbing down of the conservative movement by examining the idea that the Republican Party needs to reach out to Hispanics (i.e,. through an amnesty for illegal immigrants) because they are natural Republicans. Charles Krauthammer is one of a large number of conservatives pushing this particular anti-intellectual argument.

I say this is an anti-intellectual argument because it has nothing to do with reality or facts. Social science and experience prove that Hispanics are not natural Republicans or conservatives. The hard data shows that Hispanics overwhelmingly favor the redistributive policies of the welfare state. It is affinity for the welfare state and not opposition to the GOP on immigration that drives the Hispanic vote to trend heavily Democratic.

A look at the data since 1980 demonstrates that Republican Presidential candidates get around 30-40% of the Hispanic vote no matter what position the candidate holds on immigration.

Reagan won 24% of the Hispanic vote in 1980, before immigration was controversial. He took 37% of the Hispanic vote in 1984. After an amnesty was passed in 1986, Bush 41 received 30% of the Hispanic vote in 1988.

More recently, John McCain, a long-time amnesty proponent, received only 31% of the Hispanic vote. Bush 43 reached 40% (not 44%, as is often claimed), and I suspect this was very much influenced by the housing bubble he helped create by coercing banks to make loans to illegal immigrants.

Social science and experience indicate that amnesty does not convey any electoral benefits to the GOP. For one thing, studies show that Hispanics don’t care that much about immigration policy.

A September poll conducted by Zogby found that only 5% of Hispanics were principally concerned about immigration (as compared to 80% concerned about personal finances and the economy and 3% worried about terrorism). Social science tells us that Hispanics as a group are not largely motivated to vote by immigration related issues.

Hispanics have not shown any affinity to vote Republican based on family values; this is because Hispanic family values in America are generally not conservative.

This piece written by Heather MacDonald is a depressing but thorough account of the sad state of Hispanic family values six years ago. The out-of-wedlock birth rate among Hispanics was 44% then. It is 53% now. That is not a heartening trend. The only demographic with a higher rate of out-of-wedlock births is African-Americans. The evidence does not indicate that Hispanics as a group are prone to embracing conservative family values.

University of Chicago economist Tino Sanandaji offers a systematic explication, replete with useful graphs, of the intellectual deficiencies of the conventional (anti-intellectual) wisdom of the Krauthammer/Stephens/Rove/Boehner/Hannity position here.

Sanandaji, unlike the anti-intellectual GOP punditocracy, actually went through exit poll data to reach his conclusions. His examination of 2008 exit polling uncovered the fact that 71% of Hispanics wanted a bigger government to do more. A Pew survey from 2011 has 75% of Hispanics supporting higher taxes and a bigger government (against 19% opposed to a bigger government and higher taxes). Exit polling also shows that Hispanics heavily support Democrats over Republicans on Obamacare, taxes, welfare, gun control, energy policy, and foreign affairs.

Reuters exit polls provide more facts that contradict the idea that Hispanics embrace conservative family values. It turns out that 68% of Hispanics agree with the Obamacare contraception mandate and 57% agree with the Democratic Party platform on abortion.

I hope that the Republican intellectual establishment will renounce their anti-intellectual tendency and embrace the findings of social science as a means to electoral success. It is possible to make other arguments for amnesty, but no reasonable person can look at the data and find evidence that amnesty will lead Hispanics to vote for the GOP.

  1. Cornelius Julius Sebastian
    John Grant:

    This piece written by Heather MacDonald is  a depressing but thorough account of the sad state of Hispanic family values six years ago. The out-of-wedlock birth rate among Hispanics was 44% then. It is 53% now. That is not a heartening trend. The only demographic with a higher rate of out-of-wedlock births is African-Americans. The evidence does not indicate that Hispanics as a group are prone to embracing conservative family values.

    That is depressing… THANKS liberal intellectual elite and Hollywood!  The only stat I have heard that counters your devastating critique somewhat is that something like 61% self describe themselves as “traditional Christians” or something like that.  We need conservative evangelization among hispanics for sure.  They are drinking liberal Kool Aid the same as the African American community because the economic [expletive] hasn’t hit the fan yet. We are living on borrowed wealth. When the government largess collapses of its own unsustainability, they will be much more open to conservative truth. 

  2. LowcountryJoe

    A sensible guest-worker and easier to immigrate here ‘policy’ [I hate that word] providing immigrant has clean background and is free from disease. This is not an idea that should be pursued simply to garner votes but pursued because it squares with human freedom. And this is not anti-intellectual; well, unless, of course, one thinks that the late Julian Simon wasn’t an intellectual.

  3. liberal jim

    It seems to me that for a conservative the argument would be irrelevant.   The idea that a political party should pander to a given minority group, be they hispanics  or small business owners is self defeating.  I may be out of touch, but I thought a bed rock conservative principle was that political power should not be sought for the sake of political power, but rather to implement policies that are both the most just and beneficial for the country as a whole.

    Small government conservatism does not hold sway at the present time because the arguments for it are seldom made.  The GOP seems to  relentlessly push some kind of moderate me-too-ism.  There is a reason Reagan’s name is mentioned far more than any other.  He was the last to consistently make small government conservative arguments.   Unfortunately he was the GOP exception not he rule.  Why does everyone pretend otherwise?

  4. BrentB67

    The best way to help people become natural conservative voters is to take strong stands and eliminate (not reduce, reform, etc.) the federal welfare state.

    Once everyone is earning their own way, paying taxes, and supporting themselves it will be eye watering how fast conservative principles take hold.

  5. ConservativeWanderer
    LowcountryJoe: A sensible guest-worker and easier to immigrate here ‘policy’ [I hate that word] providing immigrant has clean background and is free from disease. This is not an idea that should be pursued simply to garner votes but pursued because it squares with human freedom. And this is not anti-intellectual; well, unless, of course, one thinks that the late Julian Simon wasn’t an intellectual. · 24 minutes ago

    First, we stop the flood.

    Then we look at modifying the dam.

  6. Mark Lewis
    BrentB67: The best way to help people become natural conservative voters is to take strong stands and eliminate (not reduce, reform, etc.) the federal welfare state.  Once everyone is earning their own way, paying taxes, and supporting themselves it will be eye watering how fast conservative principles take hold. · 25 minutes ago
    True, and a great example of “the more, the more.” But that means limited government conservatives have to 1. make the case philosophical/moral/economic case for self-reliance/limited government/freedom, and 2. not get lost in social conservatism and argue for the benefits of government intervention in marriage, drugs, and religion.  The moral case for self-determination is powerful, but we have to be consistent if we want to preach outside the choir and expect to convert people.  Otherwise, it is the chicken or the egg. catch-22.
  7. Edward Smith

    Taken as a group, no one is a Natural Republican or a Natural Conservative.

    African-Americans are not Natural Democrats.  Plenty of them vote Democrat, but I worked with African-American individuals whose values and lifestyles tended towards the Conservative.  And I am not talking about just the successful ones.  I am talking about the African-Americans who wanted to to succeed so they could get out of the Ghetto or the The Projects.   The goal of any African-American of any intelligence living in Baltimore City was and probably still is to get a good enough job to move out past the County Line, where the houses and schools were better.  It was just assumed they were going to vote Democrat.

    Why would not the same apply to the mythically monolithic Hispanics?

    You embrace Conservative values.  You “represent” yourself and those values, as Alfonzo Rachel puts it.  You go to the Hispanic and African-American communities and present your cause and your case exactly as it is, albeit as elegantly and as without unnecessary harshness as possible.

    And you draw out from that “monolithic” sea of supposedly lock-step Democrats the Conservatives among them.

  8. Edward Smith

    Eskimos have purchased ice.  Because not all ice is of sufficient quality to chill your Aged Scotch.

  9. BrentB67

    We presently only naturalize less than 0.5% of our population per year. I think there is room to double that number and it would help the conversation.

  10. Foxfier
    Mark Lewis

     But that means limited government conservatives have to 1. make the case philosophical/moral/economic case for self-reliance/limited government/freedom, and 2. not get lost in social conservatism and argue for the benefits of government intervention in marriage, drugs, and religion. 

    No.  There is nothing in the concept of removing the entitlement structure that says “thus, legalize heroin, punish the idiots that get married and have kids, and penalize religious institutions.”

    All three of those things hurt the ability of people to be independent of government– drugs hurt basic ability to function, disincentivizing marriage and childbearing is eating the seed corn, and trying to pretend religion is useless means the community support loses its strongest branch.

    No-one can support themselves always; at one point, that meant that their family took up slack, and when they had no family a local church would do it.  With it came the assumption thatyou would do your best.  

    Now, the assumption for far too many is that the Government will take the place of the others…with no shame attached, which means people stay there, and demand more.

  11. ConservativeWanderer
    BrentB67: We presently only naturalize less than 0.5% of our population per year. I think there is room to double that number and it would help the conversation. · 1 minute ago

    I say again:

    First, we stop the flood.

    Then we look at maybe modifying the dam.

  12. Foxfier
    Edward Smith:

    Why would not the same apply to the mythically monolithic Hispanics?

    Because if they’re not really monolithic, then people will have to make arguments for open borders based on something besides tilting this monolith. 

    If you follow standard conservative philosophy and deal with people  as people, trying to organize by what folks think instead of ancestry, we might not run the direction desired.  The Dem’s “wasting a disaster” thing is just an organized (and especially objectionable) version of what humans are inclined to do in the first place….

  13. Larry3435

    I thought we all understood that the term “anti-intellectual” is ironic (except when the other side uses it – then it’s just stupid). The true term would be anti-faux-intellectual. What we are “anti” is the fools who dominate our college faculties and believe that an Ivy League degree establishes wisdom rather than mere indoctrination. An “intellectual” is someone who uses their intellect. Cognitive reasoning. The soidisant “intellectuals” on the left could not think their way out of a paper bag.

  14. ConservativeWanderer
    Foxfier

    Edward Smith:

    Why would not the same apply to the mythically monolithic Hispanics?

    Because if they’re notreally monolithic, then people will have to make arguments for open borders based on something besides tilting this monolith. 

    If you follow standard conservative philosophy and deal with people  as people, trying to organize by what folks think instead of ancestry, we might not run the direction desired.  The Dem’s “wasting a disaster” thing is just an organized (and especially objectionable) version of what humans are inclined to do in the first place…. · 4 minutes ago

    Amen, Foxy!

    The goal of many of these folks isn’t to gain more votes for Republicans — it’s to open the borders, by hook or by crook. Ironically, they want to do the same thing the Obama Administration wants to do — and we’re supposed to think this is a good thing?

    The rest are just swept along on the “Pander Express” because they fail to recognize that they’re doing exactly what the leftists do — seeing people only as members of a group.

  15. Edward Smith

    Did Reagan pander?

    ConservativeWanderer

    Foxfier

    Edward Smith:

    Why would not the same apply to the mythically monolithic Hispanics?

    Because if they’re notreally monolithic, then people will have to make arguments for open borders based on something besides tilting this monolith. 

    If you follow standard conservative philosophy and deal with people  as people, trying to organize by what folks think instead of ancestry, we might not run the direction desired.  The Dem’s “wasting a disaster” thing is just an organized (and especially objectionable) version of what humans are inclined to do in the first place…. · 4 minutes ago

    Amen, Foxy!

    The goal of many of these folks isn’t to gain more votes for Republicans — it’s to open the borders, by hook or by crook. Ironically, they want to do the same thing the Obama Administration wants to do — and we’re supposed to think this is a good thing?

    The rest are just swept along on the “Pander Express” because they fail to recognize that they’re doing exactly what the leftists do — seeing people only as members of a group. · 4 minutes ago

  16. Edward Smith

    I hold it to be Unintelligent to clump people together into groups, and make assumptions about them.

    I wouldn’t know about being an Intellectual.  I gave up faith in that false religion a long time ago.

    Give me Intelligence or give me Death!

  17. ConservativeWanderer
    Edward Smith: Did Reagan pander?

    2 minutes ago

    Reagan’s time was before illegal immigration became a hot-button issue.

  18. ConservativeWanderer
    Edward Smith: I hold it to be Unintelligent to clump people together into groups, and make assumptions about them.· 0 minutes ago

    Excellent.

    Then don’t try to say that “Hispanics” as a group believe A, B, or C. (not saying you have, just saying that you shouldn’t if you want to be intellectually consistent.)

  19. Edward Smith

    BTW, I like how seeing a chance for an “easy” victory with Romney has got the fight back up in me.

    Gimli.jpg

    (Bill Whittle has me on a LOTR thing.)

  20. Foxfier
    Edward Smith: Did Reagan pander?

    He got sold a bill of goods.

    “Do this objectionable thing now, and we’ll do all this great stuff in the future!”

    Payday is always next week.

    Now it’s moved from “We’ll allow this bad thing so they’ll allow all these good things” to “this bad thing is really good, we just have to do what the other side is doingtwice as hard!”

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