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“Trump And The “Low-Skilled” Labor Myth”: The Latest Expression Of A Widely Shared Elite-Conservative Notion

In an otherwise sensible column about the limitations and possible consequences of dubbing Donald Trump a fascist, New York Times columnist Ross Douthat suggests that one of “the legitimate reasons” Trump’s campaign has endured so long is that conservative voters share a “reasonable skepticism about the bipartisan consensus favoring ever more mass low-skilled immigration.” 

This is just the latest expression of a widely shared elite-conservative notion that a mix of concerns about labor supply and the rule of law animates anti-immigration sentiment on the right. That, to put it crudely, “they’re taking our jobs!” is an expression of anger about wages, employment displacement, and people breaking rules.

But in my experience, growing up with no small number of undocumented Mexicans and white xenophobes in inland Southern California, these technocratic and philosophical concerns were way, way subsidiary to cultural anxiety and racism.

For instance, I vividly remember this old Pete Wilson ad depicting illegal immigrants as invaders.

Shortly after its run was complete—with the overwhelming support of whites across the state, and particularly in the Inland Empire region—California passed Proposition 187. It, among other things, sought to kick undocumented children out of public schools.

It’s hard to see how persecuting children (or, charitably, persecuting undocumented parents by targeting their children) principally addresses worries about labor supply and rule of law.

This isn’t to say that wages and fairness were absent from the white immigration critique, or that the racial and cultural sentiments weren’t in some sense rooted in economic insecurity. But it is to say that racial and cultural antipathies often dominated the expression of their hostility to immigration and immigrants.

This is no less true today. We saw it last year, when many on the right depicted child-migrants from Central America as ISIS infiltrators and Ebola carriers. Again, it’s hard to see that as mostly an expression of opposition to low-skilled immigration.

You can’t, in my view, gain real insight into Trump’s appeal without accounting for the fact that way above and beyond their passion for playing by the rules, many of these whites simply dislike Mexicans and other Hispanic immigrants a great deal. It might also explain why the Republican establishment, embodied in this election by Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio, has failed to gain footing at the rule-of-law-centered sweet spot between comprehensive reform and mass deportation. Enforcement first, but no mass deportation—the Bush/Rubio position—might be roughly the middle point on a theoretical continuum between Trumpism and the Democratic Party view. But it bears little resemblance to the normative preferences of xenophobic whites.

Giving voice to their rage, as Trump does, is a more apt response to their desires than mild appeals to law-abiding, economic fairness, and pragmatism. Elite conservatives like Douthat can’t wish that away.

 

By: Brian Beutler, The New Republic, December 4, 2015

December 7, 2015 Posted by | Donald Trump, Establishment Republicans, Immigrants, Nativism | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“A Kind Of White-Identity Interest”: The Republican Candidates Chose Nativism Over Christian Rhetoric

Where did God come up in Wednesday night’s GOP debate? In two key places: the discussion of religious liberty (vis-a-vis Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis, who recently made headlines by refusing to issue marriage licenses to gay couples) and a brief consideration of Planned Parenthood, which came under fire earlier this summer thanks to a series of videotapes that purported to show Planned Parenthood officials selling fetal tissue for profit.

What was interesting about the candidates’ treatment of these issues and the others that followed was how limited their discussion of Christianity really was, especially compared to their focus on the transcendent values of America itself, more nativist than Christianist. While Christian reasoning likely underpinned much of the reasoning aired on stage—for instance, the unanimous anti-abortion sentiment and distress over religious liberty when it comes to contraception and gay marriage—direct appeals to Jesus and the Bible were rare and muted. In his statements on Planned Parenthood, Jeb Bush said he believed “life is a gift from God”; the remainder of the candidates explored their plans to defund the organization based not on clearly articulated religious objections to its practices, but rather on its impact on, as Carly Florina put it, “the character of the nation.”

Appeals to the strength and identity of the United States rather than specific religious interests also issued from other candidates. When asked about his position on a flat tax based on Biblical tithing procedures, Carson replied: “It’s all about America.” The Biblical reason he had formerly proposed for flat taxation disappeared.

Mike Huckabee, who flew to Kentucky in the wake of Kim Davis’ jailing to offer her support, made relatively little of his excursion. In fact, during his arguments for strengthened religious liberty protections, Huckabee cited the accommodations made for Muslim prisoners as evidence that Christian workers like Davis deserved the same treatment. When prompted to describe his litmus test for a Supreme Court judge, Huckabee said he would demand an appointee recognize fetal life as human, but then listed a series of amendments he would also require an appointee to value, among them the second and tenth. For a candidate who built his entire career on the Evangelical ascendancy of the 1980s, he said remarkably little about, say, the country’s failure to please God.

Former New York Gov. George Pataki stood out in his argument that Kim Davis and other individuals who refuse to carry out their work on religious grounds should be fired, based on a respect for the rule of law. Pataki, who is a Roman Catholic, received applause from the audience when he said he would have fired Davis for her refusal.

The most rousing rhetoric of the night centered around the character of the United States and the preservation thereof: as in, for example, Pataki’s suggestion that allowing Davis and workers like her to refuse to perform their jobs on religious grounds would be tantamount to an Iranian-style theocracy. Given the debate’s setting, there were numerous invocations of former President Ronald Reagan, who seemed to stand in for an age of American greatness which Donald Trump, among others, seem eager to recover. But the description of the nation as specifically Christian as opposed to just great was notably muted.

Even John Kasich, who, in the run-up to the GOP debates was vocally invested in his Christian faith, seemed to pipe down on the Christian rhetoric. “Jewish and Christian principles force us to live a life bigger than us,” he noted at one point, when explaining a position on foreign military policy.

The majority of the debates were spent discussing immigration, the Iran nuclear deal, and economic policy with regard to flat versus progressive taxation schemes. But the Christian issues of yesteryear—the scourge of pornography, the presence of creationism in schools, the nature of the country as a specifically Christian nation—were ignored. Of the original issues that stirred evangelicals during Reagan’s reign, only abortion remained as a prominent issue, and it has mostly zeroed down to a debate about how to deal with Planned Parenthood in light of a specific scandal. In the place of those specifically Christian concerns is the nativist nationalism Trump introduced into the race early on, which his fellow candidates must now echo to compete with him for the support of their base. Nativism is almost never friendly to Christianity as anything more than a kind of white-identity interest, and even then, the international nature of the religion and its roots in the Middle East tend to put the most ardent white nationalists off. While no GOP candidates currently exhibit that level of nativist sentiment, there certainly appears to be a choice of focuses: either hardcore nativism, or Christianity itself. In this debate at least, it’s clear which decision the candidates made.

 

By: Elizabeth Bruenig, The New Republic, September 17, 2015

September 21, 2015 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP Primary Debates, Nativism, Religious Liberty | , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

“Polls Show Most Americans Favor Pathway To Citizenship”: GOP Continues To Be Held Hostage By Aging, Nativist Tea Partiers

With all the high drama in Washington over immigration, you’d think the fate of undocumented workers represented a cataclysmic political divide — an ever-widening chasm that cannot be bridged. But it doesn’t.

Polls have long shown that a majority of Americans favor a pathway to citizenship for those residents who entered the country illegally. But new data show that isn’t a matter of blue states overwhelming red ones. In fact, there isn’t a state in the union, from the bluest to the reddest, where a majority opposes a path to citizenship, provided certain criteria are met, for those without papers, according to the Public Religion Research Institute.

The PRRI has used its data to create an American Values Atlas that shows the political inclinations of voters in each state. Unsurprisingly, some states are more immigrant friendly than others. In California, for example, 66 percent support a path to citizenship for the undocumented. In crimson-red Alabama, that drops to 56 percent. But that’s still a majority.

Yet, that very pathway is the mechanism that congressional Republicans have denounced as “amnesty” and refused to support. House Speaker John Boehner’s caucus has declined even to hold a vote on a proposal for comprehensive immigration reform.

Last fall, when President Obama took action through executive orders to grant temporary papers to as many as 4 million immigrants who met certain criteria, Republicans were apoplectic, claiming he was violating the Constitution and behaving like a despot. They have used every instrument at their disposal, from lawsuits to a pitched battle over funding for the Department of Homeland Security, to overturn the president’s orders.

Yet even the president’s executive action on immigration is not as unpopular as you might think. While his decision to use executive powers does not draw universal support, the aim of his action does. Three-quarters of Americans favor his policy of granting temporary documents to certain groups of immigrants. Said Robert Jones, CEO of the institute, “In today’s polarized politics, there are few major issues that attract this kind of bipartisan and cross-religious agreement.”

It makes you wonder: Who are those congressional Republicans listening to? Why are they opposing a policy with widespread support, even among GOP voters? (While more Democrats — 70 percent, according to the PRRI — support a path to citizenship, 51 percent of Republicans do, as well.)

The answer is depressing, if not surprising: The Republican Party continues to be held hostage by an aging and nativist minority of Tea Partiers who cannot stomach the idea of a browning America. (It isn’t considered polite to point this out, but more Tea Partiers hold views that show racial resentment than the public at large. As just one example, a 2010 New York Times poll showed Tea Partiers are “more likely than the general public, and Republicans, to say that too much has been made of the problems facing black people.”)

Among those who identify with the Tea Party, only 37 percent support a pathway to citizenship, according to the PRRI poll. Twenty-three percent would give them legal residency, while 37 percent want to deport each and every one of them, the poll said. (Never mind the logistical and financial nightmare that trying to round up every undocumented resident would represent.)

This is a huge problem for the GOP, as its strategists have pointed out for years. The party cannot afford to alienate Latinos, a growing bloc, as they have alienated black voters with their resistance to civil rights measures.

So rather than pander to an ultraconservative and xenophobic minority, the Republican Party’s leaders ought to educate them about the need for comprehensive immigration reform. As a practical matter, demographic change is already preordained: By the year 2042, according to the U.S. Census, whites will no longer constitute a majority, no matter what happens to undocumented immigrants. The GOP needs the allegiance of more voters of color if it is to regain the Oval Office.

But there is more at stake here than the survival of a political party. The nation also needs those immigrants; it needs their energy, their youth, their hopes and dreams. We ought to welcome them with open arms.

 

By: Cynthia Tucker, Pulitzer Prize Winner for Commentary in 2007; The National Memo, March 2, 2015

March 4, 2015 Posted by | Immigration Reform, Nativism, Tea Party | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“And Has The Legal Authority”: Poll; Americans Broadly Back Obama’s Immigration Executive Action

Americans are very open to President Barack Obama’s newly announced executive action to shield millions of undocumented immigrants from deportation, according to a Hart Research Associates survey released Friday.

The poll, which was conducted on behalf of the liberal 501(c)(4) “dark money” group Americans United for Change, described the president’s policy as follows:

The action would direct immigration enforcement officials to focus on threats to national security and public safety, and not on deporting otherwise law-abiding immigrants. Immigrants who are parents of children who are legal US residents could qualify to stay and work temporarily in the United States, without being deported, if they have lived in the United States for at least five years, pay taxes, and pass a criminal background check.

After hearing that description, voters overwhelmingly backed President Obama’s move: 67 percent viewed it favorably, while just 28 percent viewed it unfavorably. The support was fairly bipartisan, with 91 percent of Democrats, 67 percent of Independents, and 41 percent of Republicans viewing the executive action favorably. Among Tea Party Republicans, however, 64 percent opposed the policy while just 30 percent viewed it favorably.

The results underscore the importance of President Obama’s sales job with regard to his executive action. Previous polls have found that voters abstractly disapprove of the president circumventing Congress to deal with immigration. A USA Today poll released Monday, asking “Should President Obama take executive action this year to deal with illegal immigration or should he wait until January for the new Republican Congress to pass legislation on this issue,” found that 42 percent wanted the president to act now, while 46 percent preferred that he wait. Similarly, an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released Wednesday found that 48 percent disapproved of President Obama taking executive action while 38 percent approved, without being told any of the details of the president’s plan.

But, as Hart Research found, voters strongly support the specifics of President Obama’s executive action. They favor allowing the parents of children living legally in the United States to stay in the country by a 40 percent margin, expanding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program by 36 percent, providing temporary work permits to qualifying immigrants by 55 percent, and shifting more security resources to the U.S.-Mexico border by 63 percent.

Democrats already seem to be winning one important aspect of the messaging fight; the poll found that — despite outspoken Republican outrage — voters agree, 51 to 41 percent, that President Obama has the legal authority to change the nation’s immigration enforcement policies.

The Hart Research Associates poll surveyed 800 likely 2016 voters from November 19 to 20, 2014, and has a +/- 3.5 percent margin of error.

 

By: Henry Decker, The National Memo, November 21, 2014

November 30, 2014 Posted by | Conservatives, Immigration Reform, Nativism | , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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