With immigration smothering California, it tells us something about the state of American democracy that not a single major candidate for governor ever mentions the issue.
There are minor candidates, like the intrepid Joe Guzzardi,schoolteacher and columnist, who grasp what’s going on in California and don’t hesitate to tell voters about it, but few seem to pay much attention.
One who seems to have paid no attention to much of anything is Linda Chavez, the Republican Party’s Professional Hispanic Female Neo-conservative. In a column in the San Diego Union last week she virtually endorsed the GOP’s favorite musclehead, Arnold Schwarzenegger, at a time that almost all other conservatives were rightly insisting that Arnold is no conservative at all.
Well, OK, Mr., Schwarzenegger did support California’s Proposition 187 back in 1994, the ballot measure that denied public benefits to illegal immigrants and their children, but virtually the only conservative position he is known to have taken is precisely what Miss Chavez tried to explain away.
“I am no fan of ‘Prop. 187′,” she writes. “I spoke out against it at the time and agreed with the opinion of a federal court that declared the measure unconstitutional.” [Townhall.com]
The reason it was struck down was the same sort of phony constitutionalism that real conservatives have come to know and despise – Prop 187 would have denied the children of illegal aliens access to public schools in California, and the courts had already decided that such children have a constitutional right to being educated at the taxpayer’s expense.
Even so, Prop 187, as Miss Chavez acknowledges, won with some 59 percent of the popular vote in California. It also resuscitated the political career of Gov. Pete Wilson, who campaigned for it, and carried to victory at least five Republican congressional candidates, which helped the party win a congressional majority in 1994.
So what should the Republicans do? Repudiate it, as Miss Chavez and most neo-cons (Bill Kristol, Jack Kemp, William Bennett) at the time demanded, and shut up about immigration control forever.
So much for the neo-con contribution to the GOP majority.
So now, Miss Chavez is back with more advice for her party. Mr. Schwarzenegger, it turns out, was on the board of a group called U.S. English, which believes immigrants should learn the English language. Miss Chavez used to be the group’s president but resigned because its founder wrote what she calls “a private memorandum that was both anti-Hispanic and anti-Catholic.”
“The memo,” she writes, “alleged that the influx of so many Catholic immigrants from Latin America and Asia was going to alter the demographics of the country because of their higher birthrates, so that, in his words, ‘For the first time in history those of us with our pants up will be caught by those with their pants down.’”
So what is either “anti-Catholic” or “anti-Hispanic” about that?
Why is the sentiment expressed false or objectionable?
More importantly, why did Miss Chavez resign from U.S. English because of what was written in a “private memorandum”?
More important still, why does anyone pay any attention at all to this dingbat?
Miss Chavez is worried that California’s voters might actually think Mr. Schwarzenegger supported the memorandum’s views, but she grants him the favor of doubting it.
Since she was president of the organization at the time and resigned because of the memo and Mr. Schwarzenegger was on the advisory board and didn’t resign, she’s probably wrong about that too.
No doubt, but the main reason we should want immigrants to learn English is not because it helps them be successful but because English is the language of the country and a major part of the cultural heritage from which the country and its core population come.
Indeed, whatever it is she does grasp is probably not what the Republican Party needs to hear much about.
She misses the point of the single most important issue of the last decade and still doesn’t get either its intrinsic merits or political importance.
She resigns from the leadership of a group because an internal memo expressed ideas both true and important but which she both misunderstood and feared.
It would be well advised to pay her no further attention.