Monday, August 16, 2010

Tea For Two Hundred

Immigration reform didn't happen in the 111th Congress, which was a mistake by the Democrats. Admittedly Congress was busy the last two years, what with the economic mess it inherited, and the full court press for health care reform from the White House, but immigration reform should have at least begun wending its way through both houses if only to keep the discourse at a sensible level. It didn't, so the discourse has devolved to a level of irrationality that is going to be difficult to counter during the election season.

Now, instead of sane approaches to protecting our border and finding a way to legitimize undocumented workers who've been here for years, paying taxes and staying out of trouble, we hear talk of the 14th Amendment and "anchor babies." Instead of discussing what to do with employers who increase their bottom line by hiring undocumented workers at lower wages than citizens or documented workers, we have states passing legislation allowing "stop and detain" for no reason other than the mere suspicion that the detainee might be an illegal.

And, of course, we have a couple of hundred right-wing xenophobic zealots holding a tea party at the Arizona border and getting coverage by the New York Times.

Hundreds of Tea Party activists converged on the border fence here in what is typically a desolate area popular with traffickers to rally for conservative political candidates and to denounce what they called lax federal enforcement of immigration laws. The rally brought a significant law enforcement presence as well as numerous private patrols by advocates of a more secure border.

The tea partiers were urged to leave their rifles in their trucks, which was about the only rational suggestion at the event. Apparently the participants complied, because there was no mention of any shooting, accidental or otherwise.

Instead of gunning for the illegals massing at the border, the participants got to listen to the likes of J.D. Hayworth, who is running against John McCain for the senate seat and who claims that Sen. McCain is soft on immigrants. They also got to listen to the entirely-too-famous Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who played the crowd like a professional lounge singer:

“If I had all the national TV here, I’d probably climb the fence to show you how easy it is,” Sheriff Arpaio said from the rally’s stage, a flag with the words “Don’t Tread on Me” flapping behind him.

Apparently the networks didn't get the email invite from the Tea Partiers, or ignored it. Unfortunately, the NY Times did and did not ignore it. Hence the article.

Well, it's not like the White House and Congress don't deserve the hoopla over a few hundred zealots baking in the Arizona sun. They didn't want to touch the issue, so now that issue is rolling all over them.

The problem is that it's also going to roll all over the rest of us, and when the issue finally is forced on the Congress and the White House, it will be drenched in this kind of nonsense. We'll get a bill just like Health Care: inadequate, unfair, and guaranteed to make our owners even wealthier.

I wish we had a real Democratic Party in power. Maybe next time.

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