Those are the opinions of Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor who also is the brother to the nation’s 43rd president and son of the 41st. His party would be wise to listen to what he has to say.
There’s not much chance of that happening, of course. The modern GOP, as Republican activist Grover Norquist said in Tuesday’s New York Times, “is party that won’t raise taxes.” We trust the same logic applies to reasoned immigration reform, as well.
Earlier this week, Bush spoke during a breakfast meeting with reporters in Manhattan, during which he tried to explain his family’s growing discontent with the Republican Party of Norquist and, in this election year, presidential nominee Mitt Romney. The national headline from his breakfast chat mentioned his father, President George H.W. Bush, and President Ronald Reagan.
The former Florida governor lamented the fact that his father and one of the icons of Republican history would not do well in today’s GOP because of the Tea Party’s influence and “an orthodoxy that doesn’t allow for disagreement.”
Granted, invoking the name of Reagan garners attention. But it was Bush’s comments about the Republican stance on immigration reform that, according to The Times, seemed to carry the most weight.
Bush’s brother, former President George W. Bush, was right to promote an immigration-reform policy that did not demonize immigrants with laws that were hardly humane. Had they been fully implemented, President Bush’s ideas would have become one of the landmarks of his two terms in office.
Jeb Bush, whose wife, Columba, is of Mexican heritage, correctly pushed the notion this week that for the Republican Party to appeal to conservative, Hispanic voters it must (1.) change its tone about immigration, and (2.) consider a “broader approach” in how it deals with the Latino community.
“It is a Bush family belief that we have to do more with Hispanic voters,” Ana Navarro, a friend of Jeb Bush, told The Times. “But Jeb understands the Republican Hispanic dynamic better than most people do because he speaks the language, he reads and listens to the news coverage, and he listens in the community.”
This growing divide between the current GOP and historic Republican families such as the Bushes should be a hefty concern for party leadership. When the ideology of the nation’s conservative political party no longer applies easily to the legacy Reagan or either Bush, the GOP has to ask itself: What are we doing?
Likewise, the Republican Party would be wise to heed the Bushes’ advice on immigration reform. The Bush philosophy that law-abiding, hardworking Hispanic families have a place in this country is sound. There’s just little confidence that will happen.