Here’s an excellent analysis of the Tea Party from William Galston, a liberal thinker who writes for the Wall Street Journal:
For all my differences with the Tea Party, I would find them easier to like were it not for their stand on immigration. The position is not part of the Tea Party’s core set of beliefs, and it only hurts their ability to advance their core beliefs. The core beliefs are lower taxes, lower spending, and less government power. Taking a position about how many people we permit to cross the border with Mexico is irrelevant to those aims. Positions on abortion and same-sex marriage are similarly irrelevant to their core aims.
Here’s a simple example that grows from Galston’s analysis in the latter part of the article. Certainly we have many Latino small business owners who see why Tea Party policies would benefit them. Like small business owners everywhere, they need lower taxes and fewer regulations, especially fewer requirements that come with hiring employees. Yet the Tea Party wing of the Republican Party alienates them completely with its stupid stand on immigration. It’s not just a stand on immigration policy, either: it is overtly prejudicial toward people who were not born here.
Romney missed a big chance to take his party in another direction, but he had his own reasons for spouting the standard anti-immigrant arguments. What a wasted opportunity.