The Supreme Court struck down Arizona’s Proposition 200, which created separate rules for voters to provide evidence of citizenship beyond what is required by federal law. Almost immediately, Senator Ted Cruz responded with an amendment to the immigration bill that would counter the Supreme Court’s decision.
Maybe Cruz actually believes the line the party has been feeding its constituents about voter fraud. Cruz is a smart guy, and it’s hard to believe his actions aren’t well measured and with full knowledge of the GOP’s demographic problem. The only question is whether Cruz is looking out for himself or his party.
Though research has continually found little evidence of systemic voter fraud by non-citizens, this has not stopped the GOP’s delusional imagination of lines of “illegals” outside of voting precincts casting votes for Democrats. They must picture Home Depot day laborer queues around the block casting votes against the GOP.
And it doesn’t help when folks like Senators Ted Cruz and Rand Paul encourage these delusions by responding to the Supreme Court decision in a way that reaffirms the fantasy world of the GOP’s aging voter base.
But Cruz is a lost cause in the eyes of Latinos. The latest poll by Latino Decisions confirmed that Ted Cruz is damaged goods. Perhaps Cruz feels the demographic time bomb in Texas will take longer to go off, and if he doubles down on the anxiety of his aging white male voter base, he will be safe for a few more elections.
While civil rights groups saw this as a victory for voters, the real victor was the federal government. The Court held that the Constitution does not allow state laws to supersede federal laws. The Constitution is clear on this, and it is similarly clear that immigration laws reside solely with the federal government, not with the states.
But of course, Arizona has a reading comprehension problem when it comes to such things as civil rights, and the state also tends to listen to decidedly bad advice from anti-immigrant ambulance chasers like Kris Kobach, who wrongly predicted that the law would pass constitutional muster.
Kobach has been at the forefront of advisors for the Republican Party on designing schemes to harass minorities, particularly Latinos. A key author of SB1070, the infamous “papers please” law that was largely struck down by the Supreme Court last year, this makes yet another waste of time, money, and energy for the state of Arizona.
But consider that casting an illegal vote is not only a felony, but if you knowingly and willingly cast an illegal vote as a non-citizen, you can also be deported. One vote. That’s the potential cost a non-citizen has to put on the line to cast a single vote. There were over 120 million votes cast in last year’s presidential election.
Of course, it would be stupid and idiotic to do so, but one’s imagination can run wild when trying to seek answers for losing elections; and the persistent cognitive dissonance that has run amok among Republicans is tempting fate against a demographic time bomb that still hasn’t sunk in the minds of the party.
Even in states like Virginia, where the demographic changes aren’t as clearly driven by the Latino population, the Republican Party is losing steam.
How does one manage life when the foundation of how your world looks is being shaken from underneath you? Well, if you are the GOP, you blame the “illegals,” poor people, socialism, the gays, a foreign-born president who wants to take your guns away, and whatever else you can drum up. You do everything but admit you are out of touch with reality.
Stephen A. Nuño, Ph.D., NBC Latino contributor and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Politics and International Affairs at Northern Arizona University. He is currently writing a book on Republican outreach into the Latino Community.