Immigrants are the new gay

Conservative blogger, John Cole, has an insightful article on immigration being the new wedge issue for the midterm elections.

It is weird because I thought that this was an issue that would just backfire against the Republicans. Hispanics, after all, are not voting “traditionally democrat” anymore than Catholics are (I believe the numbers in the last election were 45 for Bush, 55 for Kerry). Driving the largest growing segment against you, especially a segment that normally votes for you on the abortion wedge-issue seems a recipe for pitting border-Republicans (California, Arizona, Texas, Florida) against the rest, in a party that can only survive through nazi-like discipline—their views, after all, on nearly every issue are in the minority.

But it’s bad to dismiss Right Wing political strategy. I can only assume that they’ve done the polling and have determined that while a majority of them again are disagree or are indifferent, a number of people like “Ms. Kitlica” mentioned in the article will be motivated enough to go to the polls to vote.

Being cognoscenti of hypocrisy

Living in California, you sense this large hypocrisy going on. It is obvious to us that the very people speaking this heavily nativist sentiment (build a wall, kick them out, hunt them down, etc.) are the very same people who depend heavily on illegal labor for their yardwork and crop picking. Any trip to the local Home Depot and the amount of cash business in California done during growing season cross-referenced against that district’s partisan index gives lie to their anti-immigration rhetoric.

The rest of us, who don’t own a yard or a farm, shrug our shoulders. The problem isn’t an easy one, and the practical solution of holding the employer accountable isn’t going to fly.

It’s easier to shout about those “fucking Mexicans who are too lazy to learn our language” than it is to find real solutions to a real problem: one of integration of illegal immigrants into our society and to limit the number to a rate at which the country can properly assimilate without a breakdown of social services and order.

The key to the wedge issue is distance

The reality is that it is not important to see how an issue plays out in the area most directly affected by it. Instead, those farthest from an issue are most likely to be driven to be “wedged” away from their normal views based on it.

When attempting to destroy inheritance tax (framed as “Death Tax”), the Republican’s sold us stories about “protecting the family farm.” No investigative reporter could find more than a single instance where a family farm was actually repossessed after death under the current law (that single instance was a very special case). Those in the center of the country, who understood inheritance and farming, found the whole thing laughable—they knew that there were already exemptions in place that protected family farms and small businesses. Only the very richest would see any benefit to the new law. And yet, we still went for it.

Washington D.C. and New York City, the two cities hit by terrorism, were the most heavily anti-Bush in the last election. Bush won mostly on “terrorism.” Did you know that the Bin Laden tape released just before the election alone tipped the election in favor of Bush? Let us be honest about what the most likely targets are for a terrorist attack and check out how they vote on the issue of terrorism.

The “gay marriage” issue is a non-issue in every state outside of Massachusetts. In those states where it was the most successful at driving conservatives to the polls to “amend” their state constitutions in 2004, can we honestly say that gay marriage was ever an issue?

If you are going to create a wedge issue, people need to have an “us-them” mentality and it makes sense that the wedge issue should be sold in an area where your neighbor doesn’t have the facts or experience to contradict your gut reaction—it is much harder to hate “gay marriage” when you know some gay couples.

Putting distance between us and the wedge issues: that’s pretty clever of the Right.

9 thoughts on “Immigrants are the new gay

  1. The Next Hurrah points to a right-wing analysis of the immigration debate.

    Summary of the right-winger on WaPo (another reason why I don’t read WaPo’s columns and blogs anymore): “We’re no longer in the majority and it’s someone else’s fault.” Like these “popularists” were ever in the majority, instead of a patchwork of minority “voting issues” that they are quickly running out of.

  2. Two Rasmussen polls basically show what I guessed at:

    1. January 2006 Views of Immigration by State. Too bad, this poll doesn’t have CA, FL and OH.
    2. April 2006 Effect of 3rd party anti-immigration candidate

    The important thing to note is how immigration takes precedence of the Iraq war in some cases, the fact that polling on immigration cuts across party lines, and the fact that the issue is highly regional. These are all factors in a traditional “wedge” issue.

    In fact, the Republican strategy from the polling seems pretty clear. They brought this wedge issue up as a stop-the-bleeding position in the midterm election. A lot of seats in areas that are highly in favor of “building a wall” have turned strong-Republican to weak-Republican (or from weak-Republican to toss-up). By allowing candidtates in these areas to take a strong anti-immigrant stance, it will override these voter’s feeling about the mishandling of the Iraq war which is causing a lot of the anti-Republican sentiment.

    Bush and presidential candidates, who need the immigrant vote in order to win nation elections, take the soft stance. Since most people mistakenly attribute to Bush policies which he is diametrically opposed to (at least in 2004 according to surveys), the same can be said of any election on the national level if the candidate is marketed properly. The reality is that of the states in the south, the border states seem to be the least strongly in favor of throwing up a wall. It ain’t going to happen because it requires a national law and it will be hard to enforce.

    Seems like a pretty good election strategy. I wonder how most of these Americans would feel when faced with this blatant manipulations.

  3. My last sentence in my last comment had more foresight than I thought.

    It appears that the strategy seems to be backfiring. “The base” (i.e. the vocal right-wing minority of America) are angered by Bush’s stance on immigration and aren’t accepting any token gestures.

    Remember, as I noted earlier, the right-wing strategy is to have politicians on the local level talk tough on immigration in order to hold as many seats in the midterms, while the president and others take a weak stance. But they have lost control of their mouthpieces and now even Bush is going to have to “talk tough” on the immigrants. When wedge issues like this hit the national level, it is bad for the Republicans because the majority don’t agree with it and making them aware of what “their party” really stands for is going to lose them a lot of votes.

    Bombing Iran may be the only solution for this party.

    Then again, I wonder how many of them are going to buy that?

  4. Radical “solutions” to the “immigration problem” is one that crosses both sides of the aisle (both Democrats and Republicans support or oppose it in equal numbers). It seems the perfect wedge issue because those who are for “deporting all the Mexicans and building a wall” are very passionate minority.

    As I mentioned above, the summary of immigration as a wedge issue was to take a “hard right” stance on the local level in battleground states (the House is actually more vulnerable than the Senate this election) while having a “moderate” position on the national level (Senate and Presidency). Remember that demographically, they have no choice but to take a moderate position on immigration in the long term or lose the “new Republicans” (socially-conservative minorities).

    This was a sound political strategy, if a bit evil and manipulative. The danger of the “manipulative” part is that this time the manipulation seems a bit transparent since the only way to deal with immigration as an issue is on the national level. If it backfires it backfires bad because it relies on being ineffectual (the only people really hurt by tough anti-immigrant laws are going to be large corporations that fund the Republican party).

    It turned out the real problem is that Bush’s poll numbers have dropped so low (29%) than people are trying to label him a liberal, so he has to throw the conservatives a bone by tacking to the Right on this issue which further alienates him and the Republican party with most of America. See the problem is he is in Nixon territory so he can’t afford to lose 40% of the 30% of america that still supports him.

    Well, from the reaction on the Right it appears the strategy didn’t work.

    One thing you can say about about the rabid Right is, they may be a bunch of hypocritical fuckers but once they’re angry at you, they stay angry at you.

  5. An analysis of the election in CA-50.

    I think the money quote is: “…putting a greater distance between themselves and Bush on immigration, like Bilbray did… I think we should all be a little more cautious of our expectations for this November. The GOP has thrown a huge monkey wrench in the form of Immigration into the Democrats’ 2006 strategy, and it’s unclear yet how the Democrats plan to manage the issue.”

    This was my insight into the Republican strategy on immigration. Basically in national campaigns they will distance themselves from the moderate stance and in state and local campaigns they will approach it on an ad hoc basis. For instance, California, being a border state, is going to take a moderate stance on immigration, but in whitebread CA-50, the candidate is going to take a radical stance.

    A classic wedge and all of you who are voting R this year are totally falling for it. 😀

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