"Every winner of Florida's Presidency 5 straw poll has gone on to win the GOP nomination. And if that tradition continues this year, Herman Cain will be the Republican nominee in 2012. He overwhelmingly won the straw poll, nabbing 37 percent of the votes. That put Cain more than 20 percentage points ahead of Rick Perry (15 percent) and Mitt Romney (14 percent). … Many of the straw poll delegates expressed frustration at [Perry's] poor debate performance Thursday night, along with irritation at his immigration positions."
– National Review Online, Sept. 24, 2011
The mainstream media are desperately attempting to gloss over the real reason that Rick Perry self-imploded at the Florida straw poll. It wasn't that his debate performance was poor, although it certainly was. The reason Rick Perry is imitating Fred Thompson's rapid decline from favored frontrunner to candidate-in-crisis is because the debate revealed the depths to which his pro-immigration position runs counter to that of most Republicans.
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The various myths about Ellis Island notwithstanding, the American people have always been moderately anti-immigration. While their political elite has studiously labored to replace them with a new and more dependent people for the last 50 years, Americans have never accepted the general concept of open immigration from around the world. More importantly, they know they have been lied to from the very beginning by the advocates of immigration, and they understand that neither the Democratic nor the Republican Party can be trusted to defend their interests versus the interests of the corporations that seek the ever-lower wage rates that come with the expansion of the labor supply.
However, this American distaste for mass immigration was somewhat concealed by the credit-driven real-estate boom of the previous 20 years. What did it really matter if families of low income, criminally-inclined immigrants from Mexico, Somalia or Pakistan established a beachhead in your neighborhood, so long as you could sell your house and move to a larger house in a nicer neighborhood where you wouldn't have to live next to the newcomers? That this led to the hollowing out of the cities, suburban sprawl, racial segregation and a doubling in the number of vehicles per family was only considered a problem by the sort of hand-wringing social scientists who would tend to prefer it if everyone lived in a totalitarian hive-city ruled by social scientists.
But the relocation retreat ceased to be an option as housing prices began to fall and homeowners who were under water on their mortgages became permanently locked into their locations. Don't like living near a neighborhood that has gradually devolved into an approximation of a dirty, crime-ridden third-world nation? Default or deal with it.
Compounding the problem is the economic law of supply and demand. The vast increase in the supply of labor represented by immigrants not only affects the one-fifth of Americans who are unemployed or involuntarily out of the labor force, it also reduces the wages of those who still have jobs. It is not an accident that men's wages are, according to some statistical measures, lower than they were in 1968. Part of this is due to twice as many women being in the labor force as before, but the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 has also played a significant role in this wage stagnation. As the supply of labor has risen faster than the demand for it, significant downward pressure on its price – which are the wages received by workers – has been exerted.
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Housing and jobs are two reasons why Republicans reacted so negatively to Rick Perry's declaration that immigrant children need to be educated because otherwise "they will become a drag on our society." Most Republicans, most Americans, don't want Texas to educate immigrant children. They want Texas to send them back to their homelands. It wasn't so much the fact that Perry favors taxpayer spending on immigrant education, or even his claim that those who don't are heartless, that caused such revulsion as his obvious assumption that immigrants and their children will never leave America.
Many, if not most, Americans view the mass invasion of their country by Mexicans and others about as favorably as the citizens of Czechoslovakia, Holland and France viewed the mass immigration of Germans into their countries during the 1940s. The effects of this invasion are not something the political elite are able to hide behind platitudes or rejiggering the official size of the labor force because they are inescapable in the lives of those who don't live in walled communities or summer in the Hamptons.
But Republicans are foolish to think that other alternatives to Rick Perry are any more palatable than the Tex-Mexican governor. Gov. Christie is no solution because he is arguably worse on immigration than Perry, as is Mitt Romney. I am no fan of Herman Cain and his Federal Reserve connections, but if he is astute enough to ride the anti-immigration wave that Rick Perry inadvertently created at last week's debate, he may have the potential to become a credible candidate for the nomination.
It's not enough to claim to be pro-jobs in 2012, not when most voters understand that a pro-immigrant position is an intrinsically anti-jobs one. Anti-immigration, anti-bank, anti-war and anti-government spending will win in 2012, which is why both major parties are desperate to avoid permitting any candidate who represents those four positions from being presented as an option to the American electorate.