To an immigrant such as myself (not the undocumented kind, but documented up to the hilt, alas), one of the most striking features of election-night analysis was the lightly worn racial obsession. On Fox News, Democrat Kirsten Powers argued that Republicans needed to deal with the reality that America is becoming what she called a “brown country.” Her fellow Democrat Bob Beckel observed on several occasions that if the share of the “white vote” was held down below 73 percent Romney would lose. In the end, it was 72 percent and he did. Beckel’s assertion — that if you knew the ethnic composition of the electorate you also knew the result — turned out to be correct.
This is what less enlightened societies call tribalism: For example, in the 1980 election leading to Zimbabwe’s independence, Joshua Nkomo’s ZAPU-PF got the votes of the Ndebele people while Robert Mugabe’s ZANU-PF secured those of the Shona — and, as there were more Shona than Ndebele, Mugabe won. That same year America held an election, and Ronald Reagan won a landslide victory. Nobody talked about tribal-vote shares back then, but had the percentage of what Beckel calls the “white vote” been the same in 2012 as it was in 1980 (88 percent), Mitt Romney would have won in an even bigger landslide than Reagan. The “white vote” will be even lower in 2016, and so, on the Beckel model, Republicans are set to lose all over again.
Hence the urge to get on the right side of America’s fastest-growing demographic. Only 27 percent of Hispanics voted for Romney. But all that could change if the GOP were to sign on to support some means of legalizing the presence of the 12–20 million fine upstanding members of the Undocumented-American community who are allegedly “social conservatives” and thus natural Republican voters. Once we pass amnesty, argues Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform, “future immigrants will be more open to the Republican Party because, unlike many immigrants who are already here, they won’t have been harmed or insulted by Republican politicians.”