by Domenic Powell
If I were going to vote for John Huntsman, it wouldn’t have been because he’s a moderate, but because he quoted Ben Folds in a speech. That spoke to me as a North Carolinian. It’s a huge disappointment that he’s gone. That being said, the second biggest disappointment in the race has been Rick Perry.
Big players within the GOP are beginning to wonder aloud about the consequences of their hard stance on immigration. The National Review published an essay by Daniel Griswold of the Cato Institute bemoaning the surrender of the platform to a “small minority” of activists. It almost doesn’t need to be said that the small minority being reference is the Tanton Network, which is driving the party rightward. Perry had every opportunity to create a counter-narrative and he failed to do it.
Despite being the only “border governor” in the race, Perry lost the border argument to his opponents. It became a weakness when it could have easily made his candidacy stronger. He could have spoken with experience about the quixotic race to seal the border; why policies of inclusion make more sense than exclusionary ones; or how immigration didn’t ruin the Texas economy.
In fact, Perry’s administration has taken on the Tanton Network head-on. A 2006 report from the Texas Comptroller’s office criticizes the Federation for American Immigration Reform’s assessment of the state, noting that the inclusion of citizen children in the report would force the state to make arbitrary distinctions in what it perceives as costs. The report determined that: “The absence of the estimated 1.4 million undocumented immigrants in Texas in fiscal 2005 would have been a loss to our gross state product of $17.7 billion.”
Despite beating them as a governor, Perry lost to the Tanton tendency as a presidential candidate. Gingrich and Huntsman (who went as far as to support the DREAM Act), made it further than him despite not being followers of John Tanton; Perry could have made it.
As more problematic actors come to represent the conservative stance (like those who associate with neo-Nazis or call Black people ‘aborigines’), the voices asking for an alternative will only get louder. But it’s election season, and who knows what will happen between now and November.