Immigrant Bill Dies in Senate; Defeat for Bush
While it is true that this is an individual defeat for Bush it is much more. Many of us have noted that the Lee Attwater/Karl Rove Republican party was made up of two groups with very divergent interests, the corporatist/feudalist elite group and the redneck theocrat working class. Lee Attwater was the first to recognize that the corporatist/feudalist elite could never win an election on their own. Attwater also recognized the potential of the a large minority of the anti-segregation evangelical Christians. The modern Republican party was born but a great schism was always inevitable. The immigration issue may will turn out to be the wedge that drives those interests apart. Tim F. at Balloon Juice sums it up well:
At its heart the GOP has two basic camps* – business conservatives who bankroll the party and the social conservatives/theocons who staff it. In that light one could easily judge the towering achievement of Bush’s term as POTUS to be his ability to defy the centrifugal forces of majority power and hold the GOP’s unlikely coalition together as firmly and as long as he did. If so, his towering failure will undoubtedly be his adamant support of this immigration bill. I have tried for days to think of something that could wedge the social cons apart from the business cons than immigration but I just can’t do it. The Chamber of Commerce loves our current system because one can pay illegals practically nothing and they will thank you for it. In their view any fix to the current system has to keep bringing in large numbers of people with poor language skills (can’t have them reading those OSHA flyers on the wall) and a weak bargaining position, e.g. guest workers. Otherwise Americans had better get ready to start paying more for hotel beds, restaurant meals and packed meats.Tim gets it right. "Any move to change the status quo would necessarily set off contrary demands that could easily spiral into open warfare". That's exactly what the immigration bill did and the warfare resulted in a schism. This of course is not all that is going on. The social conservatives are loosing their influence. A younger generation of Evangelical Christians are once again discovering the actual teachings of Jesus who talked about helping the poor and tolerance, something missing from the church until now. So while this is a loss for Bush it may represent the end of the Republican Party as we have known it since Lee Attwater.
The key problem is that the thing that the business cons need more than anything is exactly what the social cons desperately want to end. This issue has no conceivable middle ground because the social cons want less of precisely the same thing that business cons need more of. The historical calm between these two camps lasted and could only last as long as party leaders had the good sense to keep the issue off the front burner altogether. Any move to change the status quo would necessarily set off contrary demands that could easily spiral into open warfare.