Saturday, April 01, 2006

A great reminder to not get sucked in AGAIN...

The Republican Ploy We All Fell For
by Lynne at 10:40 am.

There are moments in your political life when you hit yourself in the forehead and say, “d’oh! We’ve all been punked.” It took my husband to point it out to me, which is why I married him - he’s an incredibly smart man and independent thinker.

Last night I drove in to take the T to Boston to meet Chris after work. We had a lovely date night. On the red line home, the conversation (as it nearly always does) turns political. The topic? What everyone is talking about, of course. The current immigration debate.

The car was relatively full and even though we were talking privately, a man across the aisle overheard us and butted in. His rant was as loud and clear as only a hot-button issue could provoke. Something about how white people can’t immigrate into Mexico and get a job so why should they come here or some junk. I really tuned him out quick - not because he disagreed with me, but because he sort of scared me with his belligerence.

For a few days now, Chris has been increasingly annoyed with the immigration debate. He calls it the latest Republican ploy we Democrats have all fallen for, even on liberal talk radio and the blogs (including mine). He listens to Ed Schultz and thinks, stop doing their dirty work. Because he came to realize what we all should have seen immediately: with their hopes of retaining Congressional power falling with Bush’s sagging poll numbers, the Republicans have come up with their cult-base-rallying-cry for 2006: ‘dem damn immigrants. Immigrants are the new gay marriage.

The man on the red line demonstrated perfectly how well this works as a divisive issue for the Republicans.

Chris asks, what, did we suddenly wake up this week and realize there was an immigration crisis? That suddenly there’s 11 million illegals and now they are the main number one problem in America? That conservatives in states across the nation including New England (the furthest away from the Mexico border) suddenly discovered that illegal immigrants were taking food from their family’s mouths? No. The Republicans, having played out many of their other bogymen, now need someone else to point the finger at so their hardline base can keep blaming people other than their own leadership for their stagnant wages, “moral decay,” and bad governance. Defense of Marriage Acts have already been passed in many states, and so therefore how are they going to get their raving voters to the polls?

For a while, I thought it was Hollywood and the culture wars that they wanted to use, with all the hubbub about fines and new regulations on TV and radio. But it’s a bad play, because just as many, or more, “values voters” enjoy Desperate Housewives. In the end, entertainment trumps moralistic preachiness after all.

So immigrants it is, then. Dominate the news with that “sudden crisis”; never mind that another DeLay aid copped a plea of guilty in the Abramoff scandal. Ignore that Abramoff himself got 6 years for his plea and it’s said he’s singing like a bird. Forget that the infamous Debt Clock in Times Square is going to be in need of another digit, it’s going up faster than anyone expected. Or that former FISA judges indicated that Bush’s wiretapping program is unconstitutional. Lots of big things happened this week, but all the talking heads talk about is immigration. Lou Dobbs must be in heaven.

The Republicans play their base like a master concert pianist. They lead the debate, and us, by the nose, and panting, we follow. We are led right into the trap they’ve set for us.

I’ve begun reading Mark Crispin Miller’s Fooled Again: How the Right Stole the 2004 Election & Why They’ll Steal the Next One Too (Unless We Stop Them). Yes, the title seems alarmist and reactionary, but the evidence cited in just the first chapter is chilling. Maybe there isn’t some grand conspiracy of the Right to steal elections; but the use of a riled-up fanatical base is key to the many election irregularities that went on in Ohio and many other states. (The other key was lots of money.)

When people say “this is like red meat to their base,” it’s taken as a mild form of pandering by politicians to make their voters happy. When I picture this phrase now, I see drooling, growling hounds fighting and tearing into the meat like feral wolves. Then showing up at the polls with blood dripping from their mouths.

Please, please, let’s stop doing the Republicans job for them. On liberal talk radio, in Congress, on blogs. Let’s talk about the issues voters really should be angry and emotional about - not the concocted specter the Republicans are using as their most vicious tool.


Ziggist said...

Ahh, a disagreement we can sink our teeth into. As you may know if you’ve been reading my blog I wholeheartedly disagree with the idea that illegal immigration is not a problem or that it’s a problem that only recently came up. And it still floors me that the Democrats are on Bush’s side in this debate. Because that’s how I see it. My family keeps asking where are the Democrats, why aren’t they supporting me the American worker. Now it’s not only the Republicans that want to outsource all of our jobs the Democrats are completely willing to insource through illegal immigration, any jobs that are left over. I am left without a party. The Republicans have been co-opted by the religious right and the Democrats want the Hispanic vote more than they want mine. It seems I’m damned either way.

Diana Rowe Pauls said...

I have been reading your blog and I don't think we can really say that we disagree. I do agree illegal immigration is a problem, but I think that as Democrats, we've made a mistake by getting sucked into the Republican tactic of scaring Americans.

"Terrorists will get us!"
"Gays will ruin our families!"
"God will abandon us if we don't put His name and face on everything!"
"Babies are being murdered!"
...and now...
"Mexicans are taking our jobs!"

Democrats end up arguing with those blanket statements instead of breaking it down to the true issues and problem solving.

Yes, we have a problem with illegal immigration. It's seriously impacting our schools, our correctional facilities, our communities, and our social programs. You will NOT find me disagreeing with that in any way. That MUST be addressed.

However, PLEASE tell me what jobs have been taken from American workers. I can tell you that I don't know many Americans who are willing to do the jobs that Hispanics do in my area. And quite honestly, the "whites" who ARE willing to TAKE the job, are very rarely worth it. They consider the tasks below their standards and do a half-a** job until they can "find something more suited to their standards". They'd rather go on welfare than sweat, get dirty, or work long seasonal hours. I had one man (unemployed father of three!) tell me flat out that he wasn't even going to get out of bed for less than $10 per hour. And his family lived in a crappy rental, on food stamps, and mostly supported by her parents. GIVE ME A BREAK.

Yes, illegal workers and immigration problems MUST be addressed. But the real problem is NOT that Mexicans et al are taking our jobs.

If we are going to rage about Americans losing their jobs, then we need to focus on the corporations who close their companies here and move them to other countries to save on taxes, wages, benefits and other costs incurred because America has standards of safety etc. The Republicans will NOT bring up THAT issue because:
(1) They benefit from that practice.
(2) They know that American citizens are only able to comprehend what they see. We see lots of brown people. We don't see the people in China and India and the Phillipines so we forget that THEY are taking WAY more of our high-paying tech-related jobs than any Mexican could.