2004 August 27 Friday
Republican Platform Embraces Bush Immigration Amnesty

Bush has brazenly put his stealth immigration amnesty into the Republican Party platform for 2004.

Party conservatives are angry that the GOP's influential platform committee, which decides the party's principles and priorities, is endorsing President Bush's plan to create a nationwide temporary foreign worker program. That program, which the president outlined in January, would legalize the country's 8 million to 10 million illegal immigrants.

I have previously summed many reasons why Bush's immigration temporary work permit and stealth amnesty program would be a disaster. See my post Thinking About Bush's Less Than Half-Baked Worker Permit Proposal.

Having received a great deal of criticism for that proposal Bush is trying to implement it covertly by rule changes that make it easier for Mexicans to stay in the US for longer periods of time. Bush is also undermining immigration law enforcement in other areas as well.

Party operatives fear Bush's immigration position is going to keep Republicans away from the polls.

A longtime party operative confided that, in his view, "Nothing will sap turnout by our voters like amnesty. It's the complaint I hear most from our folks." Another platform delegate used an obscenity to refer to the immigration plank.

Richard Lessner, Executive Director of the American Conservative Union, says the Bush Administration inserted Bush's immigration amnesty into the Republican Party platform in the face of grass roots anger.

You have to give the Bush political operation credit: they badly outflanked the party conservatives. By the time delegates gathered here in New York for the platform committee work, the game was already over. The Bush operation made certain that the committee, selected by state parties, was packed with loyalists. Any chance of a conservative uprising over the platform was DOA. The most controversial plank in the draft platform was on immigration, specifically President Bush's proposal for a guest worker program for illegal aliens, a plan that also would put those who entered America unlawfully on the path to U.S. citizenship. This idea is wildly unpopular with grassroots Republicans and the Bush people know it. So the fix was in. Any effort by the handful of conservatives on the rubber-stamp platform committee to amend or delete the offending plank on immigration were trumped by a series of strong-arm tactics and procedural maneuverings.

Lessner also draws attention to Bush's crushing of attempts to oppose big government conservatism.

While there is much in the platform to please conservatives, there is also plenty to infuriate. Just eight years after the GOP platform called for the abolition of the U.S. Department of Education, the 2004 platform boasts, �President Bush and Congressional Republicans have provided the largest increase in federal education funding in history and the highest percentage gain since the 1960s [only a last-minute amendment deleted a reference to LBJ at this point] . . . Support for elementary and secondary education has had the largest increase in any single Presidential term since the 1960s � an increase of nearly 50 percent since 2001.�

A Texas delegate, introducing an amendment to delete this mind-boggling big government boast, said it sounded like something out of the Democratic Platform rather than anything identifiably Republican. The amendment was overwhelmingly crushed.

The Bushies made sure that Bush opponents were unable to lobby the platform committee.

"Why can't we get a list of the platform committee members?" asked Phyllis Schlafly, founder of the Eagle Forum and a veteran conservative who led the efforts to revise the platform planks on immigration, stem cell research and other issues. "What is the big secret? They not only don't want them talking to me, they don't want them talking to each other."

"Why did drafting this political manifesto resemble the Manhattan Project developing the atomic bomb?" the conservative commentator Robert Novak asked in a column published yesterday. "The process fits the Bush White House's authoritarian aura that has tempered enthusiasm within the party on the eve of its national convention."

Bush is big on secrecy, and not only in areas related to national security. So this is pretty typical of what the Bushies do.

The latest Republican Party Presidential platform also tossed out the balanced budget plank.

But there are other significant shifts in the Republican platform compared with four years ago.

Gone is the call of 2000 for a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution. Recession, the Bush tax cuts, and the cost of the war contributed to a record-high budget deficit.

My take on all this is that nothing less than Bush's defeat for reelection will put an end to the leftward drift of the Republican Party's leadership on immigration, government spending, racial preferences, and a great many other subjects. Bush is very obviously working to implement policies that will undermine the Republican Party's base and one of his motives may be dynastic family succession. Bush needs to lose for the good of the party. Only his defeat will set off a debate within the party on which direction it should be heading on immgration, the National Question, foreign policy, and the growth of government.

Update: David Brooks sees the coalition that makes up the Republican Party as unstable.

The 2004 convention is taking place in New York, only 80 miles away from the last one, but in a different universe. All Americans have been forced to pass through the portal marked by Sept. 11. As you look out at the delegates to this year's G.O.P. gathering, remember that these folks have fallen down a chute, and they have no idea where it lets out. When they nominated George Bush in 2000, they had no idea that Mr. Small Acts of Compassion was going to be transformed into Mr. Epic War Against Evil. They had no idea they were nominating a guy who was going to embark on a generational challenge to transform the Middle East. They had no idea they were nominating a guy who would create a huge new cabinet department for homeland security, who would not try to cut even a single government agency, who would be the first president in a generation to create a new entitlement program, the prescription drug benefit, projected to cost $534 billion over the next 10 years. They had no idea that a Republican-led government would spend federal dollars with an alacrity that Clinton never dreamed of, would create large deficits, would significantly increase the federal role in education, would increase farm subsidies, would pass campaign-finance reform and would temporarily impose tariffs on steel.


There used to be a spirit of solidarity binding all the embattled members of the conservative movement. But with conservatism ascendant, that spirit has eroded. Should Bush lose, it will be like a pack of wolves that suddenly turns on itself. The civil war over the future of the party will be ruthless and bloody. The foreign-policy realists will battle the democracy-promoting Reaganites. The immigrant-bashing nativists will battle the free marketeers. The tax-cutting growth wing will battle the fiscally prudent deficit hawks. The social conservatives will war with the social moderates, the biotech skeptics with the biotech enthusiasts, the K Street corporatists with the tariff-loving populists, the civil libertarians with the security-minded Ashcroftians. In short, the Republican Party is unstable.

Brooks' essay is quite long. Toward the end he lays out what he sees as a set of policies around which a new and more stable coalition could be built. One of his planks which I support is more government funding of energy research. Also, he calls for reform of rules for teaching credentials so that more people with relevant skills can teach. An even better reform would be the uncoupling of who lectures from who tests so that people can watch video lectures and then be tested by a credentialed institution to show that one has achieved some level of proficiency in some subject. The cost of lectures could be greatly reduced by eliminating much of the redundancy that comes from thousands of professors teaching basically the same material years after year. Let people learn by watching video lectures in their own time at their own convenience for a small fraction of the cost of live lectures.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2004 August 27 06:56 PM  Immigration Politics

noone said at August 28, 2004 4:41 AM:

OK,Bush won on his amnesty,which will likely cause him to lose re-election.That should comfort him when he's sitting around Crawford with nothing better to do.I doubt he should expect to be drafted as a party elder,either.Hopefully he'll take the "Rogue's Gallery"(Frist,Hatch,etc)down with him.

On the bright side,Randall,a Kerry victory will leave the Dems with the mess,which will become their mess as the Republicans turn inward to have their civil war.As the party rank and file have now seen the Left/Moderate/Neo-Con wing of the party in action and been repelled by it,I think the outcome of the "war" can be predicted.

On the downside,conservatives are too likely to pick McCain as their standard bearer,a man about as conservative as Bush and far less principled.Or even worse Guliani,who embodies the worst aspects of both left and right.

BW said at August 28, 2004 10:13 AM:

The good news about the bad news is that Rep. Tom Tancredo is taking an even more active role in opposing Bush's open-borders position.


There is a press conference planned for Monday, also an appearance on Lou Dobbs.

Derek Copold said at August 30, 2004 8:15 AM:

Bush's defeat should be imperative for conservatives at this point. He should lose the election over Amnesty the same way his pop lost the election on tax increases. In the end, the country will be better off for it.

John S Bolton said at August 31, 2004 8:55 PM:

The facts of this platform intrigue show that the administration has no principled adherence to openness towards what is outside. The outsiders at the convention are not allowed even to know who is involved in the secret machinations on immigration. The administration arbitratrily favors mexicans for the traitorous amnesty proposals, which demonstrates that there is no principle being referred to. If one didn't assume otherwise, it would look much as though the administration feels beholden to the contraband-smugglers who dominate mexico.

John S Bolton said at September 2, 2004 2:07 AM:

Look at what this term 'cultural nativism' accomplishes. Those who are loyal to a truly superior culture are placed on the same level as mindless tribesmen clinging to a tradition that doesn't allow them to count beyond one, two, many. Take the example of language; do the so-called 'cultural nativists' value this language because it's our people, as would the native speakers of the thousands of languages which may become extinct during this century? Why is it important to surreptitiously import a premise like the supposedly equal value of all cultures? If such 'cultural nativists' value and wish to preserve this language in an all-dominating position domestically, can't this be because it is international language, and for other reasons demonstrating objective superiority, rather than the blind ethnic loyalty which supports our schools' linguistic cultural maintenance policies for immigrants' children?

Lynn said at September 3, 2004 2:02 AM:

President Bush's support of amnesty makes sense ONLY if there is no threat of terrorist attack in the United States. If such an attack actually occurred, there would be no forgiveness on the part of the electorate for his support of more open borders. Is all the fear of attack created only to gradually take away our rights? I hate to sound "paranoid", but none of this makes any sense no matter how you look at it.

cheryl santiago said at January 17, 2006 9:07 AM:

there is alot of people waiting for amnesty bush had promise that he should keep it he should give to the people that are here allready these people come here for there dreams there should be amnesty

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