Today's Republican Party is a stool that rests on three legs of fear: fear of foreigners, fear of dark people and fear of sex.
The issues that touch on these fears are usually called hot-button issues. But a better term is 'foam at the mouth' issues. Because they make Republicans foam at the mouth. As does any person or any idea that challenges that foaming.
Foaming is now most visible around the "immigration" issue.
The "immigration" issue is not about immigration.
It's about Mexicans, those dark foreigners. There are no Minute Men, or Second Men or Hour Men for that matter, out to patrol the frozen wastes from the Straits of San Juan de la Fuca to the St. Lawrence Seaway. There are no foamers screaming for the Navy to get out on Lake Superior and shoot those Canadian canoes out of the water before the illegals reach Minnesota and take up residence in Lake Woebegone.
The reality is that the illegal immigration may be a problem, but it's not a big problem. Their impact on health care, for example, is utterly trivial compared to our real health care problems. Their impact on wages is irrelevant compared to Congress's refusal to raise the minimum wage. Their impact on jobs is minor compared to the wide variety of ills that affect the American job market; globalization, the growth of corporate power, America's disinvestment in infrastructure, the weakening of unions and the misplaced economics policies of the government (if you take at face value the claim that they are designed to stimulate the economy and create jobs).
When Republicans are in full foam at the mouth mode it does no good to discuss reality with them. That only makes them foam more. Rightly so, because reality is their enemy.
George Bush usually knows this. He normally, and constantly, pushes the hot buttons that produce the foam. But with the immigrant issue there are multiple constituencies. Number one is the party professionals, the guys who track demographics and voting blocs, who believe the Latin vote can be peeled away from the Democrats. They've been telling Bush he needs to appear pro-immigrant. Many of his backers in various business groups, especially agribusiness, want cheap, cheaper, cheapest labor. As does anyone rich enough to employ domestic help.
So the President looked at the issues and came up with a proposal. It was actually, for a Bush Republican, pretty reasonable. Unfortunately for him, it was based on realities.
That made his base just foam at the mouth.
"President Bush's immigration initiative has angered conservative Republicans so much that some are refusing to donate to his re-election campaign, according to a Bush fund-raiser in Georgia." -- Washington Times
Bush's Immigration Plan Called 'Massive Amnesty' -- CNSNews
CNSNews, Cybercast News Service, was created by L. Brent Bozell III, who describes himself as a "leading conservative," as an antidote to the "liberal" media.
To understand the headline it is necessary to understand that "amnesty" is a very dirty word to conservatives. It's a code word for 'time to foam at the mouth,' they're letting criminals - criminals! - get away with their crimes!
From certain points of view, illegal aliens are people trying to go from a poor place to a rich place to make a living. But if you're watching the landscape from the the picture windows in foamer land you see that they are felons! By definition! And by definition, where do felons belong? In prison. Therefore, what we need to do is put 30,000 troops on the Mexican border, ready to shoot, with high-tech weapons as 'force amplifiers,' to hunt them down, round them up and throw them in the many new prisons that we will quickly build.
Any program that allows illegal immigrants who are already here to gain citizenship, no matter how arduous, makes them line-jumpers. When a foamer sees someone jump the line, it hurts, it really hurts, and in their pain, they cry out, "Miz Dobbs, oh Miz Dobbs, Maria Rodriguez jumped the li-ine, throw her out of school, Miz Dobbs!"
Foamers routinely deny their fear of foreigners, dark people and sex. That's why they love code words so. It allows them to pretend that they are doing what they do for high moral reasons. It allows them to pretend, not just to others, but to themselves as well.
That's why anti-abortion fastened onto the name 'right to life' and they are so hysterical that what they are doing is 'protecting the unborn.' All realistic studies show that good, honest sex education is the way to cut down on abortion. But sex education makes foamers foam that teaching sex will lead to sex. Which is what they really fear. They don't want to end pregnancy and disease. Pregnancy and disease are desirable as enforcers that will protect us from people having sex.
If there is any doubt, notice that abortion foes are now becoming foes of birth control. Because it leads to sex for pleasure.
Fear of dark people is the impulse that's most denied. Overt racism is rare indeed. Though the spectacle of Fox News's John Gibson urging white people to have more babies lest the lesser breeds outbreed us, came close in his smiley, Christian way. But actions speak louder than words. In the land of racism, the American south, white voters have moved away from the Democrats and now vote Republican. Black people vote overwhelmingly for Democrats. That is, white people who don't like black people, and black people both know, no matter what words are spoken. Republicans work very hard to disenfranchise black people. Democrats work to get them to vote.
If we are going to change politics in this country we need to understand foaming at the mouth. Sometimes defuse it, sometimes harness it, even sometimes use it.
In the meantime, it's a pleasure to watch the Republicans lose control over their own foamers, and watch them turn on each other, the white stuff bubbling all around their mouths.