Economist: Pardon may spell trouble for Republican Party

Friday, September 1, 2017

An article in the United States section of the print edition of the Economist, that originally had the headline "Beg your pardon,” addressed the controversial motion of the President to pardon Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, convicted just last month of criminal contempt for flouting an order to stop racial profiling of anyone his deputies thought might be in the country illegally. But if the President had asked Arizona’s Republican politicians for their views, he would have got a less straightforward answer than Trump supporters gave him during a raucous rally in Phoenix on August 22nd, cheering when asked if they like Sheriff Joe.

In November 2016, though, Mr. Arpaio lost the sheriff’s job to a Democrat, Paul Penzone, who defeated him by a margin of 13%. “(Arpaio's) problem was not so much with Hispanics, who were always against him,” says David Berman, a professor of political science at Arizona State University (and Senior Research Fellow at ASU’s Morrison Institute for Public Policy). “It was with business-minded Republicans who decided that his radical approach to immigration was not good for Arizona’s reputation.” A sense that he squandered taxpayers’ money did not help. At the most recent count his legal bills to fight the racial-profiling case amounted to $70m.

The pardon infuriates many Latinos in Arizona, which could spell trouble for the Republican Party eventually. A report by Morrison Institute for Public Policy suggests that the Hispanic share of the electorate will grow from 15% in 2010 to 25% by 2030—a hefty block despite their low turnout. Republicans in California tried whipping up fears of illegal immigrants in the 1990s. It worked, but Hispanics and many whites did not forgive the party, and it is now a sad remnant in the Golden State.

READ: Donald Trump embarrasses his party, again