Saturday, December 18, 2010

The GOP and Bigotry

McCain learns there are gay Mexicans!
It strikes this writer that the Republican Party represents the organized forces of bigotry in America. Consider two issues that came up before the U.S. Senate today: the repeal of the widely unpopular Don't Ask, Don't Tell regulation and the Dream Act. The GOP cast lopsided votes against each.

First consider the Dream Act. American regulations and red tape make it virtually impossible for hard working immigrants to come to America legally. My ancestors "came to America legally" but that was because it was relatively simple to do so. These days it is almost impossible without decades of trying, lots of money and the use of attorneys. I looked into the matter to help a friend get out of a dangerous country, where his life was literally at risk. I was told it would take tens of thousands of dollars to hire an attorney, just to get a shot at things, that it would take anywhere from five to 10 years to process everything and that, the chances were almost 100% that all efforts would fail.

Illegal immigration is so widespread because legal immigration is almost impossible and certainly impossible for many decent, hard-working people who don't have significant levels of education. Immigrants are selected intentionally by a political process to be as much like the politicians who wrote the laws as possible. The regulations filter by race and class. John Stossel wrote: "State Department data show that a British Ph.D. in bioengineering must wait about six months to get a green card. A South African computer programmer, six years. An Indian computer programmer, 35 years. A Mexican with a high school diploma must wait a theoretical 131 years! No wonder people sneak into America."v

Republicans claim to believe in "free markets" but push for protectionist measures when it comes to labor markets. Of course, markets find a way. If workers can't come to the jobs then the jobs go to the workers and there is damn little the bigots in the GOP can do about that. The result is an increase in the number of jobs that are "out-sourced" overseas. Of course, that means that other peripheral jobs related to the exported job leave as well. So that decreases jobs domestically, reduces GDP in the U.S., and means that more tax revenue disappears as well—not that our major concern ought to be increasing tax revenue.

So, given the pathetic nature of legislation making legal immigration a superhuman feat, especially for Mexicans, it is no surprise that "illegal immigration" is the only option. That is the nature of markets. Markets just want to be free and when you impede free markets then so-called "black" markets develop. High tax countries find that will all sorts of enterprises. Regulations push more and more of the economy underground. And the red tape and regulations around labor and immigration are doing precisely that in this country as well forcing the desperate GOP to push for more and more big government controls to try and stop it. And most those controls hit citizens. Now you are constantly having to show government issued ID for everything. And the Republican measures forcing everyone to constantly identify themselves created a massive industry in ID theft which is now hurting millions of people. Yes, government solutions almost always make problems worse—the GOP has been telling us that for years but don't seem to think that is the case with immigration restrictions.

All these regulations and restrictions on labor markets mean that millions of individuals had no other option but to come here illegally. And many of them brought infants with them. Those infants are today young adults. They were raised in the United States. Their entire lives are America through and through. They know our culture, our language and most have no memories of living anywhere else. Many only speak English. But the anti-immigrant zealots want those kids rounded up and deported.

These kids did not break the law. They were not capable of breaking the law. They were not responsible for the situation they are in. Most are good kids, many are our brightest students. But they have almost no way to become legal citizens. The Dream Act was meant to allow those students find a legal way of staying in the only country they know. I would give these kids citizenship outright. But the Dream Act said they had to finish two years of college or enlist in the military.

The U.S. Senate voted 55 to 41 to pass the measure, a clear majority, but the Republicans blocked the measure with a filibuster. So it had to have 60 votes to end the filibuster. Republican bigotry won out.

Hatred so dominates the core values of the Republican Party that they simply couldn't make an exception for kids, kids who did not knowingly violate the law. Many of these kids don't even realize that they are "illegal." They were brought here as infants. Even if you think the xenophobic hysteria that the nativist Right is pushing is accurate, you have to realize that these kids did not choose to be in this position. Surely some legal paths should be opened up to them. But hate won out and the doors were closed.

If there were one group of "illegals" who truly don't deserve punishment it is kids who were brought here as infants. But hatred so dominates Republican thinking that even this one group can't catch a break.

Similarly the Republicans tried to do exactly the same thing to gay people in the military. Repeal of the odious Don't Ask, Don't Tell regulation has majority support in the United States. Even a majority of rank and file Republicans say they want the measure repealed. Not the Republican office holds, particularly John McCain.

McCain and the other sheet-wearers in the GOP tried to filibuster the repeal of DADT, as they have successfully done twice already. Previously filibusters succeeded because Harry Reid had pushed for repeal in a way that actually forced Republicans favoring repeal to honor the filibuster. And it hasn't helped that President Obama has done absolutely nothing to encourage the repeal. If anything Obama has revealed his true position by his do-nothing stance on repeal.

This time the filibuster failed because a tiny handful of Republican Senators voted to end McCain's attempt to keep segregation in the military. But the general thrust of the Republican Party is one that is ugly and intolerant. All this talk about "deregulation," "free markets," and "small government," are as bogus as Bill Clinton's marriage vows. When it comes to people the Republicans dislike, such as immigrants and gays, then they want reams of regulations, loads of red tape, controls on the market and Big Government.

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