Fundamentally, the immigration issue is about money and power. All Republican rhetoric to the contrary, there is no immigration emergency. While we can argue about the state of representative democracy in the USA, there is still power (economic and political) in voting, and power in controlling who gets to vote. The Republican Party has its hands on most of the levers of power and is busy grasping for more, but by raw votes it is still the minority party–and with the rise of Trump the Republican Party has sold its soul to nazis and white supremacists in order to build the minority it has. The purpose of all the breathless Republican rhetoric on immigration is retain the minority votes on which it governs.
This insight comes to me courtesy of analyzing the two immigration bills McMorris Rodgers and the Republicans constructed and then could not garner enough votes even to pass the House, H.R. 4760 and H.R. 6136. The bubbling, distracted media mostly failed to highlight two basic things about these bills:
1) Neither of these bills actually offers the Dreamers more than some limited form of legal status. McMorris Rodgers will tear up over the Dreamers stories, but then she returns to Congress, maneuvers to avoid a vote on a bill that would actually offer them citizenship, and “works hard” to craft alternative Republican bills that offer the Dreamers contingent, renewable legal status but no path to citizenship. She stood right in front of me at Green Bluff on May 29th and (in answer to a pointed question) admitted the Republican bill she was working on did not offer a path to citizenship. She wants it both ways. She wants credit for being sympathetic to the Dreamers, but her sympathy only extends to a select few…and keeps citizenship out of reach even for them. She knows she could have the votes of Democrats for a clean Dream Act at any time, but she will do anything to avoid such a vote. Her legislative actions betray her real values.
2) The vast majority of the words in these two bills are about curtailing legal immigration. Have a look. These bills toss some money at border security (Trump’s wall, etc) and make a tiny nod toward doing something for the Dreamers. All that is to distract attention and inflame passion in the Republican base. The real intent is to further limit the already dwindling legal influx of brown people. All of Trump’s yelling about rapists, murderers, and MS-13 is aimed at imprinting fear and loathing of all immigrants in the minds of his listeners. Focus on this, not that.
Fundamental Fact: The Republican Party already represents only a minority of Americans, and a minority of American votes. I highly recommend you click and read Doug Muder’s “Minority Rule Snowballs.”
Do any of you remember the soul-searching the Republican Party was doing about ten years ago, the attempts of George W. Bush to speak Spanish and appeal to hispanic voters, the media articles noting America was destined to become less white, more brown and Asian, the hand-wringing over the demographic fate of the Republican Party if they didn’t find a way to attract votes from people of color?
The Republican/Libertarians faced a tough choice: either find a way to attract the votes of this growing electorate or fire up the flapping fringe of the Republican Party, the fringe that has always been there, the John Birchers, the Nazis, and the Klan, the fringe that William F. Buckley, Jr. (before his death in 2008) successfully fended off from respectable Republican mainstream involvement for decades.
With Trump, aided by the evil genius of Steve Bannon, they chose to welcome and energize the flapping fringe. Trump gathered enough votes to become a minority president in part based on this strategy.
Now Representatives in electoral jeopardy like McMorris Rodgers are busy disguising their sympathies with the flapping fringe that helped elect her “positive disruptor.” She may be a sympathetic mom with a tear in her eye for the Dreamers but she legislatively maneuvers to rob them of a chance at citizenship. Don’t let her get away with it. We are better than that.
Keep to the high ground,