Can Republicans shape the agenda?

In the new issue of the Weekly Standard, Jay Cost has an interesting article asking whether Republicans can shape the political agenda. The article is worth reading in its entirety, but I want to isolate these to paragraphs for your consideration:

The constraints of the GOP coalition limit the party’s ability to make identity-based appeals to Hispanic voters (or any ethnic group, for that matter). The Democrats will always get to the GOP’s left when it comes to identity politics. In the case of immigration reform, the desire by most Republican voters to respect the rule of law will keep the party from offering an amnesty package to Hispanics as generous as Democrats can. The latter will thus pocket any concessions that the former provide, and then ask for more later.

This does not mean that the GOP should abandon immigration reform. It means, rather, that it should formulate its position on the issue for the sake of good policy, and not in the expectation of political benefit. The party’s best bet to win Hispanic voters is to find ways to appeal to them on other issues, especially those where their interests line up with the interests of the GOP’s electorate.

These are wise words indeed. I should think they amount to something like a self-evident truth, and they apply to issues beyond immigration. Whole thing here.


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