Today’s reading assignment is from Professor William Jacobson of Cornell Law School, writing at National Review. He clearly understands why Donald Trump’s message is resonating with voters, even if the GOP establishment and chattering classes are appalled. As Jacobson observes:
“..As the field narrows, Trump will have to expand those numbers if he is to win a primary, much less the nomination. But for now, Trump is in the driver’s seat, and his vehicle is the lawlessness reflected in our failure to control illegal immigration in general, and violent illegal-immigrant criminals and gangs in particular.
Statistics about “immigrants” having lower crime rates are irrelevant, because they mix legal and illegal immigrants. One would expect legal immigrants to have low crime rates, since they are, by definition, the type of people who follow the law.
Trump clearly was not talking about legal immigrants, but about the kind of foreign “gang bangers” (a term Obama used) who terrorize everyone with impunity. The statistics on illegal-immigrant crime are staggering. According to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, over 36,000 illegal-alien criminals were released from custody in 2013 while awaiting deportation. Eighty-two percent of the 133,551 removals from the interior of the United States involved illegal immigrants with criminal records.
Some claim that the rate of murder and crime by illegal immigrants is no higher than for those here legally, but that’s an obfuscation. Any murder or crime by an illegal immigrant is one too many, because that person should not be in our country in the first place.”
It’s the same type of palpable anger that fueled the revolt against Obamacare in the summer of 2010, leading to the birth of the Tea Party movement and major Republican gains in the fall election. But many of the activists who formed the backbone of that revolt now view the GOP with deep suspicion–and rightfully so. Time and time again, the RINOs in Washington have taken a pass on defunding Obamacare, and their hostile reaction to Trump makes them even less trustworthy.
Clearly, the New York billionaire is anything but a perfect candidate. His campaign speeches are little more than stream-of-consciousness nuggets flowing directly from his out sized ego. There is no indication that Mr. Trump can master the art of retail politics with the “little people” who participate in the Iowa caucuses or show up at primary events in New Hampshire. And his past statements on subjects like abortion won’t go over very well with social conservatives in places like South Carolina.
But the GOP elites and the media ignore Trump at their own peril. Over the past month, he has stood political convention on its head by hammering a “third rail” of American politics–the issue of immigration. B.T. (Before Trump) the Republican consultant class argued against any statement or policies that would “upset” Hispanic voters, while urging candidates to get behind some form of comprehensive immigration reform.
Not only did Mr. Trump point out the public safety risks stemming from illegal immigration, he also attacked the country that is the source for most of that illegal wave (Mexico). For his troubles, Trump lost business partnerships with a number of firms, including Macy’s and NBC, but it cemented his status as a GOP contender, at least for now.
This much is certain: Mr. Trump has re-ignited the debate over illegal immigration and the issue is not going away. His fellow candidates–the ones so anxious to vilify Trump and pander to the immigration lobby–need to acknowledge a rather inconvenient truth: securing the Republican nomination will require lots of votes from party activists, the same people who helped Trump surge in the polls. Antagonize that electoral bloc and you’ll see a repeat of 2012, when millions of conservative voters stayed home, because they couldn’t support the “moderate” Mitt Romney. The notion that a GOP candidate can write off a significant portion of his/her base–and win–is simply ludicrous.
That’s not to say they won’t try, and therein lies the real problem: Republicans who prefer the “pastel colors” of policies that are similar to those of Democrats, versus the “bold colors” of genuinely conservative alternatives to the status quo.