Kenneth Baer's got a terrific piece in The New Republic on the politics of immigration. He starts by analyzing the Tories' attempts to quietly demagogue the issue. The problem, of course, was that they didn't stay quiet, and the louder they got the more voters were turned off. From there, he argues that immigration poses a uniquely thorny problem for the Republican party, caught as it is between a desire to win the emerging Latino electorate and turn out a base that's often violently anti-immigrant. If the issue becomes a national one, the contradiction between the party's minutemen and it's more calculating political operators will rip the coalition apart.
He's right. And at least one Democratic pol knows it. Hillary Clinton's been making some moves towards a centrist swing on immigration. And if she follows through on it, the simple dissonance from her moving right on the issue will raise it's profile, and force her opponents to take a stand. At that point, they need either to outflank her to the right in order to satisfy their own base, or swing to her left in order to appeal to the Hispanic electorate. Factor in that it's really unclear whether or not Hispanics care much about tighter immigration controls but not unclear at all whether the right's nativist faction cares and you've got a real pickle for our unnamed Republican. But Hillary may not even be needed for this one, Tom Tancredo may do the work for her:
Already, anti-immigration crusader Tom Tancredo, a congressman from Colorado, has made forays to New Hampshire and formed a political action committee called Team America, which is chaired by the legendary right-wing organizer Bay Buchanan. If Tancredo gets into the race, he could pull the entire field to the right on immigration--and the political dynamic that has taken shape in Britain could be repeated here, but with the added element of a large, angry Latino constituency.