The Yellowstone County Republican Party wouldn’t let him speak at their Lincoln-Reagan Day Dinner, and the Montana Tea Party disavows any association with him, but congressional candidate Drew Turiano may be the most honest conservative in the country. He has proposed something called “Operation Wetback,” which would be a program designed to deport every undocumented immigrant in the country and their children, too, even if their children are U.S. citizens. The 40 year-old real estate investor doesn’t make any pretense about these deportations being about the rule of law. He’s completely up front about the real reason he wants to throw millions of people out of the country. It’s strictly political.

“I believe in a moratorium on all immigration to America,” he said. “The reason I believe in that, it will be the end of conservatism in this country. The majority of immigrants who come to America are big government people. They’re going to mostly support the party of big government, the Democrat Party. They will not support the party of small government, the Republican Party.

“Because this is a fact of life, it will mean that the Republican Party will never win another national election again in about 10-15 years time. … I’m hoping that we can do something to immigration and put a stop to it, so the Republican Party doesn’t go the way of the Whigs.”

In his political assessment, I basically agree with him. Our only real difference is that I don’t see the Republican Party as inextricably linked to conservatism. The Republican Party will probably win national elections again, but they won’t do it as a party absolutely dominated by conservatives. Conservatism is doomed. The Republican Party will have to make a decision whether to go down the drain with the ideology or to reinvent itself.

I think it is refreshing to hear a conservative admit that they want to deport immigrants not because they don’t like them but because they don’t expect them to vote for Republicans. It’s probably a natural thing for people to try to manipulate their environment in ways that will allow them to avoid changing their views on things. So, conservatives come up with schemes that they hope will allow them to win elections without changing their beliefs. They invent an in-person voter fraud epidemic and then go about limiting early voting, absentee voting, voting on Sundays, in addition to trying to implement onerous voter identification requirements designed to disproportionately disenfranchise Democratic voters.

The result? Black voters turn out at a higher rate than white voters and Mitt Romney gets trounced. On top of that, most of their proposed laws were thrown out by the courts. In soccer, they call this an “own goal.” They scored on themselves.

Immigration reform is shaping up to be another “own goal” for conservatives. They don’t want to do it because it would eventually lead to more voters in the electorate who don’t have conservative values on most issues. But, opposing reform is turning the Latino vote against the Republican Party in the here and now. The GOP will do the reform to preserve itself as a viable party, but that leaves conservatives left out, without a party to represent them.

For the Republican Party, it’s an easy decision, but for conservatives it is political death. That’s why Turiano has arrived at a very logical decision. The only policy that will allow the GOP to remain a conservative-dominated party is to round-up all the undesirables and remove them from the country. Then, they can stop all further immigration of any type, and they’ll be able to maintain themselves in their current positions of power.

But, then, if Mr. Turiano’s prescription is so eminently sensible, why are Montanan Republicans and even Tea Partiers running away from him?

Is the problem that Mr. Turiano, like Nevadan rancher Cliven Bundy, is inarticulate? Or is there a substantive problem with Operation Wetback? Increasingly, it seems that conservatives don’t have the courage of their convictions. Like weasels trapped in a burlap sack, they lash out looking for an escape from a fate that cannot be averted.

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Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly. See all his writing at