Starting today, smart Republicans will begin planning how to win the White House back. The really smart ones will listen to Figaro.
One figure of thought can make or break the GOP’s presidential hopes: the Eddie Haskell ploy. (You’ll find it on page 64 of Thank You for Arguing.) Eddie Haskell was the smarmy kid who sucked up to Mrs. Cleaver in “Leave It to Beaver.” In rhetoric, the ploy entails enthusiastically switching sides when you’re about to lose. It improves your rhetorical virtue—the part of your image that has to do with values.
The single biggest reason for Obama’s re-election was the Hispanic vote, which composed 10% of the electorate. Obama won 70%. To take some of those voters away next time around, Republicans will have to swallow hard, turn their backs on the Tea Party, and sponsor a bill to ease immigration. What’s more, they’ll have to back some version of the Dream Act, giving the children of illegal immigrants a path to citizenship.
No matter how Republicans feel about this issue, the number crunchers can’t dodge the data. The Hispanic vote is growing. The Dream Act is a pivotal issue.
Figaro’s advice? The GOP’s congressional leaders should come up with their own version of the Dream Act. Call it the “Earn It Act.” Build in extra business-friendly provisions that the Democrats will have to eat. Allow the brightest kids to attend college, and award citizenship to those who earn their degree or serve in the military, regardless of their documentation.
The Hispanic vote should be a swing vote. For one thing, it’s a diverse group. The only factor tying Hispanics together is immigration. (Not language, necessarily; many Hispanics favor English.) Snatch the immigration issue from the Democrats, and Hispanics will begin to migrate—toward the GOP.
Get your aides drafting now, boys. Tell them: It’s the Eddie Haskell Ploy, stupid.