The So-Called “Party of Stupid” Lives Up to its Reputation
Washington, DC – The Republican presidential field continues to advance an ugly strain of nativism on the campaign trail. Yet it shouldn’t be lost that the GOP’s recent brand of anti-immigrant politics is also just plain dumb. The GOP contenders are advancing simplistic, offensive, incorrect, unworkable, and just plain old stupid concepts related to immigration.
See below for just the most recent examples of the GOP’s “dumb and dumber” approach to immigration, followed by reminders of why it matters.
Donald Trump: Anti-immigrant scapegoating continues to be the cornerstone of Trump’s appeals to the “silent majority” – a phrase with a long legacy as racially-charged and coded phrase. This past weekend, failed 2010 Nevada Republican Senate candidate Sharron Angle introduced Trump at a Nashville, TN rally. As a reminder, Angle ran one of the most aggressively and blatant anti-immigrant campaigns in recent memory – including ads that combined shots of Latinos with tattoos on their faces with shots of scared white women – that mobilized Latino and Asian voters to spell the difference in Senator Harry Reid’s (D-NV) come-from-behind victory. As if the Angle association weren’t enough, Trump also added new “us” vs. “them” riffs to his anti-immigrant rhetoric. During the Nashville speech, Trump attacked Dreamers by pitting them against American-born children, saying, “what about our children who are in the country? Why can’t they be the ‘dreamers’?” Trump also stated that “illegal immigrants in many cases are treated better than our veterans.” Really? Children born in America and American veterans have it worse off than undocumented immigrants? In Trump’s fevered imagination, facts don’t matter, but making up stuff to pander to base instincts do.
Chris Christie: Appearing at a town hall event in New Hampshire, Christie said that we should track immigrants like FedEx packages, noting that, “You go online and at any moment, FedEx can tell you where that package is…Yet we let people come into this country with visas, and the minute they come in, we lose track of them.” Gov. Christie did not specify where bar codes would be stamped or whether chips would be implanted in visiting tourists, businesspeople and academics.
Bobby Jindal: The candidate who coined the phrase when he said in 2012 that the GOP should “stop being the stupid party” appeared on ABC’s “This Week” to defy his own challenge. He said immigrants “should come here legally, learn English, adopt our values, roll up our sleeves and get to work” – ignoring the facts that immigrants want to be here legally, they do learn English, and they do work hard.
Scott Walker: Continuing his devolution from pro-immigrant conservative to anti-immigrant firebrand, Walker said that building a border wall between the U.S. and Canada was a “legitimate” idea and made the outrageous and untrue assertion that “Islamic extremists” are flooding across the border between the U.S. and Mexico. Said Walker, “Islamic extremists and other terrorists are most likely using the same trails into our homeland as the drug cartels, the weapons smugglers and the human traffickers.” Get ready for a “pants on fire” ruling from the fact checkers.
The GOP’s anti-immigrant lurch is the height of short-sighted politics, with the rise of Trump threatening to do nationwide for Democrats what Sharron Angle did in Nevada in 2010 and Pete Wilson did in California following the passage of Proposition 187 in 1994.
As Jorge Ramos recently noted of the way U.S. Latinos are viewing the Republican lurch to the right, the rise of Trump, and the immigration debate overall: “This is personal … he’s [Trump] talking about our parents, our friends, our kids and our babies.” An article in National Journal highlights, “Every 30 seconds, a Latino turns 18 and becomes eligible to vote. That’s about 66,000 every month, or 800,000 every year, according to the Pew Research Center.” Keep in mind, under most likely 2016 electoral scenarios, the Republican nominee will need to win between 42-47% of Latinos nationwide in order to win the 2016 popular vote.
Unfortunately, and on the heels of the vicious hate crime in Boston, we continue to see evidence that the anti-immigrant scapegoating on the campaign trail is showing up in disturbing frequency in the real world. The August 28th edition of the Washington-area Univision newscast, “Entravision Washington” included coverage of a Montgomery County Latino woman and her son who had an argument with a man at a 7-Eleven parking lot (details available in Spanish via the video link). In what may be investigated as a hate crime, the man allegedly physically attacked the Latino woman, and called her a “wetback” and said, “go back to your country.”
According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice, “Republicans are entitled to debate the merits of mass deportation, taking citizenship away from U.S.-born children and building walls around our nation. But they are not entitled to make up stupid notions and stupid ideas as if they are making a serious contribution to solving a complex challenge. Most Americans connected to reality understand that immigrants work hard, contribute to economic growth and are American in all but paperwork. Meanwhile, in the bizarre world of the GOP primary, trumped up canards add up to a spasm of nativism that will doom the GOP’s chances in the 2016 general election.”
Follow Frank Sharry and America’s Voice on Twitter: @FrankSharry and @AmericasVoice
America’s Voice — Harnessing the power of American voices and American values to win common sense immigration reform