Welfare benefits for illegal aliens must be eliminated, said Californians, and with Proposition 187 they did just this. Voters thus reaffirmed a basic principle of common-sense public policy: foreign lawbreakers should not be entitled to live off the earnings of productive citizens. Surely everyone can agree on this much.

Not quite. Bill Bennett and Jack Kemp, pillars of D.C.’s Empower America, jetted out of the Beltway for a few days in late October to plead with Californians to vote no on Proposition 187. Bill and Jack think it is just fine to squander $2.4 billion per year on welfare for illegals.

“For some, immigrants have become a popular political and social scapegoat,” the joint statement said, implying that it is wicked to want to keep what you earn. “The Republican Party helped to create a Democratic base in many of America’s cities with its hostile stand toward the last generation of immigrants from Italy, Ireland, and the nations of Central Europe.”

“It’s bad stuff. It is poison in a democracy,” added Bennett. Proposition 187 “corrodes the soul,” Kemp chimed in, adding this prediction: “If this passes in California, it will be introduced in other states and people will want to put it in the 1996 platform.” Oh, scary. Harold Ezell, the coauthor of the measure, was bewildered, but offered this theory to explain their behavior: “Clinton must have written their press release.”

People wonder why Bennett and Kemp are losing political influence in the GOP to a new generation of activists with radically different views. This fiasco shows why.