The latest episode of the America’s Voice podcast, “A is for America”, features an interview with our own Executive Director, Frank Sharry, who spoke with us about immigration politics in the 2017 Virginia election and the GOP’s hate-filled agenda in 2018.
Frank Sharry spoke about the last year in immigration politics and how Republican candidates have ramped up the Trump anti-immigrant strategy — and failed to win every time. Americans have shown that they want to be brought together and that they want the country to move past divisiveness, yet all Trump and Congressional Republicans can do is offer increasingly ugly attacks. Democratic candidates running this fall should learn to lean into, rather than run from, immigration — especially since polls have shown that xenophobic attacks turn off voters of all stripes.
Here’s how Frank describes the GOP plan for this year’s midterms, as part of his interview which begins at 6:10 in the podcast:
This guy [President Donald Trump], ever since he came down the escalator and called Mexicans “rapists and murders,” has been using racial and ethnic division and intolerance as the central organizing principle of his campaigning. And as they [Republicans] look at 2018, they realize there is a lot of Democratic energy and there’s a lot of progressive energy and not a lot of Republican mobilization, so they are doubling down and tripling down and quadrupling down on intolerance as the way to do it and that’s mainly expressed as demonizing immigrants as the other.
Calling immigrants animals, going to Long Island to have a round table on MS-13, having a round table in the White House about “sanctuary cities,” talking about it insistently, making this silly accusation that Nancy Pelosi is speaking up for MS-13 members, it’s really obvious. You know as well as I that do that Stephen Miller is the architect of the actual tactics and policy on the inside. He was quoted in a Breitbart exclusive saying that they’re going to make immigration and borders and crime related to immigrants the central element of their 2018 strategy.
What Trump and the Republicans have figured out is that they identify who their in-group is and then everyone else is out-group. And you demonize the out-group in order to mobilize the in-group. What we saw in Northern Virginia, what I experienced personally and what we saw through the polling, is that immigrants are the “in-group” in northern Virginia. They’re part of “us.” It’s that e pluribus unum notion of us and them makes a greater us than the Trumpian Republican notion that if you divide us versus them, that’s how you win elections and gain power.
He [Trump] is all about division and dominance and it’s really tough to stand up to that because the reflective response from so many of us is, “Oh yeah, well our team is going to get twice as strong and take you on and we’ll meet you halfway.” And what I think we’re starting to learn is that if he’s going to do “us versus them” divisiveness that what we need to do is an “us and them” inclusion. It’s not our team versus your team, it’s our America versus your resentful, cramped vision of America. And I think that is the way. It’s beyond the angry response to the intolerance racism and xenophobia, but I think it’s the more intelligent response to standing up for the American creed and the American experiment.
“A is for America” is a podcast which tells stories from the front lines of a changing America. Each week, we’ll be talking to advocates and experts working in immigration reform, immigrants’ rights, immigration politics, and the forefront of what it means to be a new American. Tune in next week for more.