September will be the biggest month for the Republican Party in recent memory. Members of Congress are spending the August recess back at their home districts meeting with constituents. Representatives on both sides are explaining to voters how each of them is fed up with the partisan bickering, how each one is above petty politics, and why they are each worthy of reelection in 2014. As home video from town hall meetings shows, Republicans have some especially tough explaining to do – they are catching most of the flak for the dysfunction in Washington. A recent poll revealed that congressional Republicans have a lower favorability rating than their Democrat counterparts. According to a June gallop poll, 34% of Americans approve of the Democrats in Congress, while Republicans have only a 26% approval rating.
A key issue plaguing Congress with this powerful aura of forlorn uselessness is immigration reform. The Senate actually passed a comprehensive reform bill back in June. When the bill hit the House, Speaker Boehner immediately invoked the informal Hastert Rule, whereby a Speaker refuses to bring a bill up for a vote unless he has the support of a majority of the party in control. If House Republicans do not pass immigration reform soon, they will not add any Latinos to their voter rolls, which is the only reason they are even considering a pathway to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants.
If the House doesn’t pass an immigration bill when they return from recess, then the GOP has a limited window of opportunity to appear as if they are trying to reform our nation’s broken immigration system. House Republicans must quickly seek a solution on immigration reform if the GOP is going to gain Latino voters in the 2014 and 2016 elections. If Republicans drag their feet on the issue, they will have lost the moral and political arguments to Democrats. If House leadership continues opposing the president on immigration reform, then they might as well take it off the table completely and hope they can scrape by on the demographic groups GOP candidates have relied on in recent elections.
Sensible Republicans are unwilling to bet the future of their party on a dwindling base that didn’t turn out to vote in 2012. They need to make sacrifices now to appeal to moderates, urban voters, and Latinos.
When October rolls around, Latinos will either be willing to listen to Republican candidates because the GOP has made an honest effort to pass immigration reform, or they will vote Democrat for years to come. Make your choice now, Republicans. Pass a new immigration reform bill, approve the Senate version, or continue to oppose the president and Democrats on every issue while incessantly overturning Obamacare and ranting about how the border isn’t secure enough.