The pundits tell us not to pay too much attention to the Republican convention platform, because this document usually reflects the party's most extreme ideas — just fodder for the far-right activists — and because the GOP nominee for president is not really expected to follow it.
But what if those extreme ideas came from the horse's mouth? What if there is an issue where all the new Draconian ideas actually came from Mitt Romney?
Surely, there are issues where Romney has not gone as far to the right as the GOP platform, like on abortion and rape.
But on immigration, the GOP platform has gone further to the right than ever before. It's almost as if it was specifically drafted to alienate Latinos!
And point by point, it all came from Romney when he was pandering to Republican extremists during the primaries.
Remember when Romney used the GOP debates to show he could be the most Draconian of them all?
Well, the far-right extremists took it all down — and put it in the GOP platform.
Remember the debate where Romney went after Gov. Rick Perry for allowing undocumented students to pay in-state tuition rates in Texas? Well, the GOP platform now calls for denying federal financing to universities that allow undocumented immigrants students to pay in-state tuition.
Remember when Romney rejected any form of a legalization plan for the 11 million undocumented immigrants already living here or when he vowed to veto the DREAM Act or when he had the bright idea about self-deportation?
Well, the GOP plank opposes "any forms of amnesty" for undocumented immigrants and calls for "humane procedures to encourage illegal aliens to return home voluntarily." Of course, by "humane procedures" they mean making sure these immigrants can't get a job so that starvation will force them to go home.
"The answer is self-deportation, which is people decide that they can do better by going home because they can't find work here," Romney said in one of the debates, "because they don't have legal documentation to allow them to work here."
So denying someone the opportunity to earn a living is a "humane procedure"? Really?
Remember when Romney vowed to withdraw Justice Department lawsuits against states trying to enforce federal immigration laws? Or when he implied that Arizona's anti-immigrant and racial profiling laws should be a model for the rest of the nation? Or when he changed his mind and claimed he was only talking about requiring employers nationwide to e-verify workers' legal status?
Well, the Republican Party platform calls for all of the above.
This is the most repulsive, intolerant, anti-immigrant GOP platform in recent history, and Romney inspired it!
This is the most two-faced convention we'll ever see. While thrashing immigrants in their platform, Republicans are introducing several Latino speakers — as if seeing a few Hispanic faces was going to make us forget their mean-spirited agenda.
But it's all cheap cosmetics — especially when the infamous immigrant-bashing Sheriff Joe Arpaio also was invited to speak at a convention event.
Any pretext for a Latino-friendly GOP convention was lost in Tampa, Fla., last week, when delegates allowed conservative ideologue Kris Kobach to insert his entire immigrant-bashing agenda into the GOP platform. Kobach, the Kansas secretary of state who is credited for authoring some of the most anti-immigrant state laws in the country, is a strong Romney ally and informal advisor. And since he was promoting the same hardline measures Romney had defended during the debates, Kobach got all he wanted from the platform committee. The "architect" of the state anti-immigrant laws became the architect of the national party platform on immigration.
Romney's poll numbers among Latino voters are dramatically low — hovering between 23 and 28 percent — but with people such as Kobach advising him, frankly, those numbers should be much lower.
Let's face it: On other issues, Romney may be able to remain a bit more moderate than the platform adopted by his own party. But on immigration, if Romney becomes president, how does he betray his hard-right friends? How does he not implement his own anti-immigrant party platform?
If Romney gets a well-deserved, record-breaking rejection from Latino voters and still wins the presidency, doesn't he have to respond to his anti-immigrant constituency? When President Romney starts worrying about re-election, does he risk alienating the conservative base to which he has been so subservient in this election cycle?
No way, Jose!
If Romney becomes president, get ready to rewind the Latino civil rights clock. After all, Romney's pandering rhetoric on immigration — his scapegoating of immigrants to score points with xenophobes — is now the official position of the Republican Party.
But if President Barack Obama wins re-election, mark my words: Romney will be remembered as the candidate who wrote the book on how to lose an election by alienating Latino voters.
To find out more about Miguel Perez and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.