Sure, Republicans are playing to their base by calling for mass deportations. The years-long campaign to convince a segment of Americans that undocumented immigrants are the biggest threat to the country has had its intended effect. Witness the spectacular GOP victory in the midterms, where about one-third of the electorate voted and Republicans won a majority to sweep Congress and statehouses across the country.
So no surprise that almost four months into the Republican takeover of Congress, more time has been spent on immigration -- specifically, trying to reverse President Obama's executive actions shielding 5 million immigrants from deportation -- than almost anything else.
Once your party's platform is nothing more than a projection of atavistic fears, you can't suddenly turn it off.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) funding bill fiasco, with its non sequitur attempt to abolish Obama's immigration executive actions, was yet another black eye on the Party of Lincoln. It showed its obsessional focus on the narrative that only the GOP can "take the country back," as those famous anti-Obama posters proclaimed in the 2010 midterms.
And take it back to where? Well, that's not at all clear, as Republicans have yet to propose a positive agenda for America. Republicans are still stuck on repealing ObamaCare and safeguarding preferential tax rates for hedge fund managers and other big-ticket Republican donors.
But maybe we now have a hint of this grand reactionary vision: the GOP House's recent release of the federal budget blueprint. In this GOP version of the United States, the budget must be balanced at all costs, even though the federal deficit is now at a historically low percentage relative to gross domestic product. President Reagan would have proclaimed total victory if he had driven down the deficit in the same way Obama has done.
But this budget is not just about numbers; it is about values. Republicans envision an America in which basic federal investments -- in education, infrastructure, science research, health and support for the elderly and indigent -- are no longer priorities. The House GOP budget would slash all those traditional government expenditures to the tune of $5.7 trillion over nine years.
Using magic-realism math, Republicans have concluded that the vacuuming out of almost $6 trillion out of the U.S. economy creates growth and a balanced budget. Just look across the Atlantic and see what that kind of radical austerity has brought to Europe. Massive economic pain, deflation, depression-levels of unemployment, multiple recessions since the 2008 crash and significant social instability have all combined to create a poorer, less powerful and less influential European Union.
Aside from the GOP austerity budget that expresses ideological purity in an almost Soviet fashion -- pursuing economy policies with proven records of failure, but incapable of changing those approaches because of ideological rigidity -- Republicans have also applied this ideological obsession to deporting undocumented families.
Which is actually not an irrational policy for a party increasingly isolated and dependent for votes on a single group of Americans. A new study projects that 95 percent of GOP primary voters will be white. Now of course, primary voters tend to represent the most committed, ideologically focused people for whom party ideology -- be it Republican of Democrat -- is a pseudo-religion, dogma in political garb.
From the DHS bill to pushing for a states-driven judicial killing of Obama's immigration actions, Republicans have become implacable in their anti-Hispanic activism.
Of course, immigration is not a Hispanic issue per se. But Latino support for immigration reform is undeniable, as are Hispanic voters' reaction to Republican politicians that engage in dog-whistle rhetoric that is a thinly-veiled attack upon all Americans of Hispanic descent.
Immigration is a national strategic concern. What is the best workforce, the best consumer market that America can develop through immigration? It has been this way since George Washington encouraged immigration and a path toward citizenship for immigrants in order to transform the United States from a lightly populated coastal nation into what would eventually become a continental empire.
Nativists have been decrying immigrants ever since. But the inexorable geopolitical and economic needs of the nation have meant that over the last 200 years, immigration has been interwoven into American culture.
In spite of periodical burst of racist repression (e.g., the Chinese Exclusion Act; "Irish Need Not Apply"; Japanese internment camps after Pearl Harbor; the deportation of American citizens of Mexican descent during the Depression; and the ongoing Republican effort to harass principally poor Hispanic immigrants through prejudicial policies), America has prospered as a unified nation, welcoming people from across the world to swear fealty to our Constitution and contribute their part to the American Dream.
The comical irony of Canada-born Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) leading the charge to open the floodgates to deportations of even children shows that the nativists are alive and well in the 21st century.
But as both the 2008 and 2012 elections showed, Republicans running on an anti-Hispanic platform lose. Just ask Mitt Romney.
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