The Republican Party already rightly has the reputation of being the party of whites and holding hostility toward non-whites. With the rise of Donald Trump in the GOP presidential candidate polls, the GOP has accelerated its descent to the nastiest positions on immigration and by extension, anti-minority animus. Let's be honest. If the tide of immigrants across America's southern border was made up of white Protestants, we'd likely not be hearing much from the GOP on the issue. Indeed, more white Protestants would help shield the GOP from the angry white males' biggest fear: the day when America is no longer a majority white nation. An editorial in the New York Times looks at the GOP's race to the bottom. Here are highlights:
Before Donald Trump, Republican presidential candidates could deflect tough questions on immigration with vague promises to secure the border and oppose all “amnesty” for illegal immigrants.Not anymore. Mr. Trump has offered a plan to “take back our country” from what he calls the rapist-murderer-job stealers being exported from Mexico. He is full of ideas. He would expel 11 million immigrants, and their families, and let only “the good ones” back in. He would restrict legal immigration, and impose a national job-verification system so that everyone, citizens too, would need federal permission to work. He would build a 2,000-mile border wall and force Mexicans to pay for it. He would replace the Constitution’s guarantee of citizenship by birth with citizenship by bloodline and pedigree, leaving it to politicians and bureaucrats to decide what to do with millions of stateless children. He would flood the country with immigration agents and — it almost goes without saying — dismantle the economy and shred America’s standing as an immigrant-welcoming nation.Because his plan is so naked — in its scapegoating of immigrants, its barely subtextual racism, its immense cruelty in seeking to reduce millions of people to poverty and hopelessness — it gives his opponents the chance for a very clear moral decision. They can stand up for better values, and against the collective punishment of millions of innocent Americans-in-waiting.But as Mr. Trump swells in the polls, his diminished opponents are following in his wake, like remoras on a shark. Several have shuffled onto the anti-birthright-citizenship bus, including Rick Santorum, Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, Ben Carson and Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey. Even Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who once fought for smart bipartisan immigration reform, wants to repeal birthright citizenship. . . . . As for Mr. Trump’s other restrictionist proposals, several are firmly lodged again in the playbook of a Republican Party that briefly tried to reform itself after the Mitt Romney debacle.Jeb Bush and Senator Marco Rubio of Florida understand immigration issues deeply and presumably want the Latino vote and are well aware of the dangers of having their party hijacked by far-right ideas. They should be opposing Mr. Trump at every turn. But in the face of Mr. Trump’s success, their objections are mild, and oddly muted. The danger is that when the campaign is over, no matter what becomes of Mr. Trump’s candidacy, he will have further poisoned the debate with his noxious positions, normalized an extremism whose toxicity is dulled by familiarity and is validated by a feckless party.The solutions are well known. Americans strongly support an earned path to citizenship for immigrants, strengthening families and industries and giving strivers the chance to pay this country back.Ideas like these are realistic, practical and have the added benefit of being morally defensible. It has long been a hard job to keep the highly combustible immigration debate on the right side of sanity and reality. That progress is now being undone before our eyes in the presidential campaign, courtesy of the faux-populist billionaire who says immigrants are the reason this country is weak and frightened and going to hell.