President Obama was propelled to re-election on Tuesday by minorities, prompting one Fox commentator to quip that a policy that requires people with a darker skin tone to show “papers” pushed them away from Romney — even though those same voters were not scared by the current commander in chief, who signed into law the ability to bypass the request for papers and indefinitely detain anyone. Without a trial. Anywhere.
President Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act during his first term, which gives the commander in chief expanded powers to deal with terrorism. It’s public policy from a liberal’s worst nightmares, which would have been the perfect left hook (interspersed with plenty of shots from the right) to blunt to Mr. Obama’s fear-mongering on immigration. Romney needed to puncture the Democrats’ choke hold over the notion that they have immigrants’ best interest at heart. He didn’t and paid a price; Mr. Obama received the support of 72 percent of Hispanics, America’s fastest-growing population.
Many conservatives are scared of intellectually hitting Democrats from the left. Indeed, it is a task requiring great skill. Do it the wrong way and you wind up looking like a faux conservative like Chris Christie, who turned to Jimmy Carter price controls when he was in a bind.
It is tough to nail an opponent from the left without simultaneously undercutting conservative principles. For instance, fighting Islamic terrorism is a complicated necessity. The enemy wears no uniform, has expanded the battlefield to any place and any location, and isn’t always supported by a state actor. But conservatives need to find a way cut through liberal double think before it sets in, and they don’t have much time. A zinger from the left flank that points out hypocrisy without side tracking the conversation is a handy option to have. President Obama won blacks by 93 percent in 2012, and if Hispanics become similarly impervious to the superiority of free markets and limited government, the nation is in great peril.
The danger for conservatives is to assume these trends will pass when Mr. Obama leaves office. In many respects, his followers are cultish. He is the Marshall Applewhite of modern American politics, and his Keynesian economics is the Hale Bop comet that will never come. It requires supporters to ignore the debt meteor that is fast approaching, but what would be worse would be if such blind allegiance transferred to the Hispanic vote. I believe we are on a cultural precipice, and if we haven’t already fallen off, we are hanging onto the edge with white-knuckled desperation.
A harbinger of things to come, if conservatives don’t act with an urgency, can be found by looking at the re-election of Jesse Jackson Jr. in Chicago. The man has been mentally incapacitated for months, holed up in various locations, including the Mayo Clinic. The Washington Post recently cited reports that he thought he was a reincarnated chariot driver, and to top it off federal investigations are looming if he recovers. (Or is the whole thing a ruse to stall the inevitable?) Regardless, Jackson Jr. won in a landslide.
If we’ve reached a point where minorities are scared of conservatives because of requests for photo identification at traffic stops, but they’re not terrified of a liberal president who already codified into law the ability to indefinitely detain them without trial, there is much work to be done.