Ed West, Telegraph (London), November 8, 2012
Congratulations to Ted Kennedy on his historic election victory. The Lion of the Senate may no longer be with us, but there is little doubt that he secured Barack Obama’s win — for as every media outlet has pointed out, Romney simply “ran out of white guys”. If America had the demographic profile of 1992, the Republicans would have secured victory; had the country its 1980 electorate, the GOP would have won in 2008 too. Kennedy’s 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act, which he said would lead to at most 50,000 people a year arriving (slightly below the actual figure of one million) swung it.
The consensus among the commentariat, therefore, is that the Republicans and by implication the Conservatives need to do more to attract non-white voters by cutting down on their objections to immigration and multiculturalism. In order to win, the Republicans must encourage the importation of millions of Democrat voters — an almost flawless plan.
This rests upon a couple of false ideas. Firstly, that there is a straight comparison between Latin American immigration today and that of eastern and southern European Catholics and Jews from the 1880s to 1920s. Sure, some of the complaints sound similar, but there are major differences, and the main one is that it took the 1924 law restricting immigration to facilitate the integration of white ethnic minorities.
Integration has many forms, among them the adoption of English, intermarriage, relative equality of outcomes and voting patterns; minorities with strong identities tend to vote along ethnic lines, while integrated majorities split fairly evenly, as one would expect in a healthy democracy. Hispanics continue to have different levels of income and education to non-Hispanic whites well into the second and third generations, and beyond.
As long as that continues it is unlikely they will turn Republican en masse. Even the pro-immigration Hispanophile George W Bush, whose dynasty is partly Hispanic, only won 40 per cent of the Hispanic vote at the height of the sub-prime mortgage boom. Better than Romney, but in a two-party system not exactly reason to pop open the champagne.
Secondly, there’s not much evidence that Hispanics actually care about immigration controls. If I were a poor Mexican-American farm worker I think it’d be in my interest to seal the border; the only beneficiaries of open borders are big business, self-appointed community leaders and the Democrats. Many white ethnics favoured shutting the door in the 1920s, including Samuel Gompers.
In Britain non-whites have views on immigration to the Right of the mainstream parties, in fact so much so that by the standards of the anti-racism industry many black and Asian Britons would be considered far Right. What good does a steady supply of cheap non-white labour do for them, either socially or economically? Believe it or not, but most immigrants don’t want to turn their new home into their old, which they left for a reason.
Non-whites don’t support the Republicans or Tories, not because of immigration rhetoric, but because party loyalty is to an extent tribal and emotional. In all Western democracies centre-Right parties have difficulty attracting minority voters. The Conservatives won just 16 per cent of the ethnic minority vote in 2010; in France 93 per cent of Muslims voted for Francois Hollande.
If anyone thinks that this is due to rhetoric about burqas or being “swamped”, it’s worth noting that Boris Johnson, perhaps the most pro-immigration Tory around and a man blessed with an unusual, affable charm that attracts non-Tories, did poorly among non-whites both in 2008 and 2012. The exceptions were middle-class Indians in Harrow, and Jews, the latter because Ken Livingstone’s policy of courting one minority alienated another. Boris won London because he had enough white guys — how do you think the Tories will fare in London in 2016 or 2020? Shall we just have the bitter recriminations now and get it over with?
But even British Indians, who are the home-owning “bedrock of Middle Britain” and small c-conservatives in all the best ways, don’t tend to vote Tory that much. Why? Maybe it’s because, however patriotic they are, many just don’t like Tories as a group, and instead feel part of the more multiracial Labour family.
But a side-effect of this is that some members of the Labour family no longer feel at home; while the Democrats have gained from America’s increasing number of Asian and Hispanic voters, many whites have moved towards the GOP. Not enough to shift the demographic change in the Republicans’ favour, but enough to weaken democracy by tribalising it.
The media is unable to look at this rationally because educated people are fixed on the concept that whites are powerful exploiters (“the dominant group”) and non-whites victims, so the consensus is established that this is some unique problem of white American racism. And yet in every multi-ethnic democracy where the majority is not comfortably secure, people vote on tribal grounds, whether it be Northern Ireland, Lebanon, Iraq or increasingly, some small areas of western Europe. If you were a Martian sociologist looking at these trends, would you conclude this is down to clear, repeated patterns in human nature, or the GOP’s “rhetoric on immigration”?
The obvious solution for the Republican Party, and for the health of American democracy, is to turn off the tap, like America did between 1924 and 1965, and allow those minorities already here to assimilate into Republicans.
Even as a matter of principle, conservative parties should not embrace mass immigration because, aside from the fact that their voters don’t want it, it is a profoundly un-conservative policy. But principle aside, any political strategist who suggests he has the formula for winning over large numbers of ethnic minority voters for the Tories by adopting socially liberal immigration policies is a snake-oil salesman.
Unfortunately, so stunned are conservatives on both sides of the Atlantic by the liberal media’s headlights that they’re unable to see what’s heading for them.