Dick Morris and  Eileen McGann

Now that Felipe Calderón seems to have won and the threat that was embodied by Chavista Andrés Manuel López Obrador has been defeated, it is time for the Republicans in the House to look beyond their own noses and deal generously with our neighbor to the south.

The Mexican people have just rejected a leftist anti-American alternative and embraced free-market capitalism in a dramatic vote. It is one thing for middle-class Americans to do so, but for Mexicans, many of whom are impoverished, to turn away from a candidate who promises a 20 percent pay increase and free gas and electricity and embrace a free-market alternative is a testament to the sense, perspective, balance, wisdom and maturity of the Mexican electorate.

Would that our own political leaders had such gifts.

Respected Republican pollster Lance Tarrance reports that the House Republicans are misreading their own base in their hardened and doctrinaire opposition to an earned-citizenship program and in their efforts to besmirch this alternative by calling it “amnesty.”

Tarrance’s poll, only of Republican voters, found that the base embraced the idea of an earned path to citizenship, in which illegal immigrants could “earn legal status and eventual citizenship by working, paying taxes, learning English and waiting their turn behind people in their home countries who are already waiting in line for visas.” The Republican sample backed this proposal 80-17 percent.

Conversely, the Republicans rejected out of hand the House-passed option, in which “illegal immigrants could earn legal status as a foreign worker but would have no possibility of ever becoming citizens,” 25-70.

In all, when the Senate and House versions of the immigration legislation were fairly explained to voters — in some detail — Republicans backed the Senate version 75-17 but only broke even on the House bill, 47-46. Asked if the Senate bill constitutes “amnesty,” the dirty word in the immigration debate, 39 percent said yes but 49 percent said no.

The fact is that Republican voters are far ahead of their Neanderthal leaders on the immigration debate. They recognize that, as The New York Times reported, three-quarters of illegal immigrants work for major corporations and have income taxes withheld from their paychecks like other American workers. What is more, this three-quarters contribute to Social Security even though they have no prospect of ever receiving benefits.

Dick Morris and Eileen McGann

Dick Morris, a former political adviser to Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) and President Bill Clinton, is the author of 2010: Take Back America. To get all of Dick Morris’s and Eileen McGann’s columns for free by email, go to www.dickmorris.com