In the upcoming presidential election, two issues are more important than any others: repealing Obamacare and halting illegal immigration. If we fail at either one, the country will be changed permanently.
Taxes can be raised and lowered. Regulations can be removed (though they rarely are). Attorneys general and Cabinet members can be fired. Laws can be repealed. Even Supreme Court justices eventually die.
But capitulate on illegal immigration, and the entire country will have the electorate of California. There will be no turning back.
Similarly, if Obamacare isn't repealed in the next few years, it never will be.
America will begin its ineluctable descent into becoming a worthless Western European country, with rotten health care, no money for defense and ever-increasing federal taxes to support the nanny state.
So let's consider which of the Republican candidates are most likely to succeed at these objectives.
In order to allow Democrats to indignantly denounce Republicans who said Obamacare would add to the deficit, the bill was structured so that no goodies get paid out immediately. That way, when the Congressional Budget Office was asked to determine if Obamacare was "revenue neutral" over its first 10 years, government accountants were looking at a bill that collected taxes for 10 years, but only distributed treats in the later years.
Starting at year 11, those accountants will be in for a big surprise when the government starts paying out Obamacare benefits without interruption.
Because of this accounting fraud, Obamacare can still be repealed. But as soon as all Americans have been thrown off their employer-provided insurance plans and are forced to start depending on the government for health care, Republicans will never be able to repeal it.
The vast complex of unionized government workers managing our health care from Washington will fight to keep their jobs (for more on this topic, see the Department of Education), voters will want their "free" government treats (for more on this topic, see Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security) -- and even if they don't, there won't be a private insurance market for them to go back to (for more on this topic, see IRS rules favoring employer-provided health care).
The only way to stop Obamacare is to beat Obama in 2012, and repeal it before the health care Leviathan is born.
Otherwise, starting in 2016, Republicans will run for office promising only to improve Obamacare. Newt Gingrich will be calling plans to reform it "right-wing social engineering."
All current Republican presidential candidates say they will overturn Obamacare. The question for Republican primary voters should be: Who is most likely to win?
2012 is not a year for a wild card. It's not a year for any candidate who will end up being the issue, instead of making Obama the issue. It's not a year for one wing of the Republican Party to be making a point with another wing. (And there are no Rockefeller Republicans left, anyway.) It's not a year to be gambling that America will vote for its first woman president, or that the country is ready for a nut-bar libertarian.
Running against an incumbent president in a make-or-break election, Republicans need a candidate with a track record of winning elections with voters similar to the entire American electorate.
Michele Bachmann, Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich have never had to win votes beyond small, majority-Republican congressional districts.
Jon Huntsman, Rick Perry, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum have won statewide elections, but Huntsman and Perry ran in extremely red states that don't resemble the American electorate. Only Romney and Santorum have won a statewide election in a blue state, making them our surest-bets in a general election.
But if Santorum wins, we lose on the second most important issue -- illegal immigration -- and he'll be the last Republican ever to win a general election in America.
Just as Americans ought to be able to learn the perils of a welfare state by looking at Greece, we ought to be able to learn the perils of illegal immigration by looking at California.
Massive legal and illegal immigration has already so changed the California electorate that no Republican can be elected statewide anymore. Not so long ago, this was a state that produced great Republican governors and senators like Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, S.I. Hayakawa and Pete Wilson.
If even Carly Fiorina and Meg Whitman, two bright, attractive, successful female business executives -- one pro-life and one pro-choice -- can't win a statewide election in California spending millions of their own dollars in the middle of the 2010 Republican sweep, it's buenas noches, muchachos.
And yet, almost all Republican presidential candidates support some form of amnesty for illegals in order to appeal to the business lobby.
Among the most effective measures against illegal immigration is E-Verify, the Homeland Security program that gives employers the ability to instantly confirm that their employees' Social Security numbers are legitimate. It is more than 99 percent accurate, and no employee is denied a job without an opportunity to challenge the records.
Although wildly popular with Americans -- including Hispanic Americans -- the business lobby hates E-Verify. Employers like hiring non-Americans because they can pay illegal aliens less and ignore state and federal employment laws.
Any candidate who opposes E-Verify is not serious about illegal immigration. If anything, E-Verify ought to be made mandatory to get a job, to get welfare and to vote.
Kowtowing to business (while pretending to kowtow to Hispanics), Paul, Perry and Santorum oppose E-Verify. As a senator, Rick Santorum voted against even the voluntary use of E-Verify.
Jon Huntsman claims to support E-Verify, but also wants to give illegals amnesty as soon as the border is sealed -- as determined by someone other than us. Also, he gave driver's identification cards to illegal aliens in Utah. (You'd think a guy no one has ever heard of would be more careful about ID cards.)
Following his latest guru, Helen Krieble, Newt Gingrich is for amnesty, combined with second-class status for illegals. Instead of giving illegal aliens green cards, Newt proposes giving them "red cards" so they can stay, take American jobs, have children, receive welfare benefits, attend public schools -- and eventually be granted amnesty. The Republican primaries will be over before most voters realize what Newt's "red card" scheme entails.
Only Michele Bachmann and Mitt Romney aren't trying to sneak through amnesty for illegal aliens. Both support E-Verify.
Numbers USA, one of the leading groups opposed to our current insane immigration policies, gives Republican presidential candidates the following grades on immigration: Paul, F; Gingrich, D-minus; Huntsman, D-minus; Santorum, D-minus; Perry, D; Romney, C-minus; and Bachmann, B-minus.
And that was before Romney said last week that Obama's drunk-driving, illegal alien uncle should be deported!
That leaves us with Romney and Bachmann as the candidates with the strongest, most conservative positions on illegal immigration. As wonderful as Michele Bachmann is, 2012 isn't the year to be trying to make a congresswoman the first woman president.
Two Little Indians sitting in the sun; one was just a congresswoman and then there was one.