Immigration and Voting

The central thesis of this post is a brief excerpt from Daniel Hannan’s (MEP) book, Inventing Freedom: How the English-Speaking Peoples Made The Modern World.

[I]n the 2010 Canadian election, immigrants were more likely to vote Conservative than native Canadians.  Think, for a moment, how exceptional such an outcome is.  In most of the world, newcomers vote overwhelmingly for left-of-center parties.  There are plenty of reasons why.  They are usually penniless when they arrive, and so gravitate to politicians who purport to represent the poor.  They tend to live in districts represented by leftist politicians who, at local level, are the first to help them navigate the political system of their new nation.  And, of course, left-wing parties see themselves as champions of all minorities.

The success of the Canadian Conservatives owed a great deal to their determined campaigning among ethnic minorities and new settlers.  But it was assisted by the non-racial way in which English-speaking societies define themselves. [pg 280]

This shouldn’t be surprising to any of us.  Immigrants come to the US, and to Canada, looking to make better lives for themselves and their families than was possible in their old country.  They bring with them a habit of self-reliance and a powerful work ethic.  By their immigration, they’ve shown themselves to be willing to take risks for gain and not simply to wait on handouts.  Immigrants are more likely to start (and succeed with) small businesses, too, and small businesses are the jobs generators of our economy.  These are principles of modern Conservatism in the US; we should be welcoming them with open arms.

Republican—and Conservative—candidates also should take heed of that last paragraph in the quote: “determined campaigning among ethnic minorities and new settlers.”  They should do this, not only in their own districts—which must come first, surely, as winning the election is a prerequisite to getting anything done in elective office—but also in their neighboring Democrat districts, where many more immigrants—and native minorities—live; these voters should not be dismissed by us.

It would help, also, if we, as a nation, turned to what has been demonstrated to a large degree in Canada: “the non-racial way in which” we define American society—but in practice as well nominally in law.  The Democrats and Progressives cannot let go of their racial (or gender) difference meme (recall the MSNBC bi-racial Cheerios ad kerfuffle, the cries of racism whenever a white man criticizes a black government official, the squawks of sexism when a man criticizes a woman candidate), but we Republicans and Conservatives surely can move beyond such racism and sexism.  Beginning, as alluded above, with going into immigrant and minority neighborhoods and talking directly with those folks—not as Asian or Mexican immigrants, not at Black- or Hispanic- or Asian-Americans, but as Americans and future Americans.

In the end, we shouldn’t be afraid of how immigrants might vote (we shouldn’t be shutting them out of our country over that question at all).  Immigrants in the United States generally would vote with Republicans and Conservatives, if only we would give them the chance.

Certainly, we need have no fear for the Conservative message in any contest of ideas.

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