We recently posed a question to our contributors: Might George W. Bush be the last Republican president? And if he were, would it really matter to those of us interested in reforming immigration, environ-mental, and economic policies? In this issue, we include responses from David Simcox, Samuel Francis, E. Christian Kopff, Miles Wolpin, and William Catton.
Among those most likely to vote Republican, immigration reform is highly popular. So is environmental protection to as many as 92.8% of probable Republican primary voters, according to a 1999 Zogby International poll. And there is a too often obscured or unspoken immigration dimension to the "family values" issues that concern 93.4% of Republican voters. Current immigration policies contribute to increased poverty, crime, drug use, out-of-wedlock births [the National Center for Health Statistics reported on 17 April 2001, that unwed birth rates were twice as high for Hispanics as for non-Hispanic whites, at 42.2% to 22.1%; the black unwed birth rates remain the highest, at 69.1%, poor schools, etc.
Since well before the turn of the last century, the Democratic Party has depended on a (sometimes uneasy) coalition of labor, non-white, and new immigrant voters for their electoral success. As Samuel Lubell pointed out in his study, The Future of American Politics, a "cultural chasm" developed between the two major political parties, with the Republicans being more "sensitive to the aspirations of the ‘old' immigrant elements." Lubell went on to note that the "new" immigrants and their descendants formed the core of support for Roosevelt's New Deal. The portion of the white vote Democrats hold today largely descends from this element. Had immigration patterns not shifted by the turn of the last century, the Republicans might well have remained the majority party, virtually without interruption, from the end of the Civil War on.
If Republican "leaders" fail to champion the collection of popular immigration-related issues that could increase their success in the voting booths, they will deserve the political extinction they have courted. New vehicles for public policy change will have to be created by those concerned about our future.