Savvy Dems

by digby

As I wrote in a post the other day, the "savvy" Dem consultants are pushing their clients to go punitive on the Hispanic population so they can take immigration "off the table" and make the Republicans talk about something else. (I know ... ) They are apparently determined not to take advantage of the huge opening the Republicans have made with their hysteria on the subject, to motivate and empower a huge new Democratic voting bloc.

Here's reason number 5,899, why this is incredibly stupid:

Smith remains the most common surname in the United States, according to a new analysis released yesterday by the Census Bureau. But for the first time, two Hispanic surnames — Garcia and Rodriguez — are among the top 10 most common in the nation, and Martinez nearly edged out Wilson for 10th place.

The number of Hispanics living in the United States grew by 58 percent in the 1990s to nearly 13 percent of the total population, and cracking the list of top 10 names suggests just how pervasively the Latino migration has permeated everyday American culture.

One of the reasons Karl Rove was so anxious to get comprehensive immigration reform done was because he can count. It's not just because he loves Mexican food (who doesn't?) that he worked like a madman to claim some of that big pile of votes. He and his successors will reluctantly settle for vote suppression if that's their only hope, but they know it's pretty hard to suppress that many people if they are motivated and energized. That's why they are now busily pimping the immigration issue and daring the Democrats to defy them. They need to make sure as many Latinos stay home next November as they can.

In our two party system, building coalitions is a fundamental necessity for both. Big new voting blocs don't come along very often and the party that grabs it when it does is likely to be the party that gets a real mandate to enact its agenda. The Republicans empowered the previously politically unorganized Christian right 30 years ago and it was the key to their movement's ascendancy:

"With Paul M. Weyrich and Richard Viguerie, Blackwell met with Jerry Falwell to found the Moral Majority. 'Finally, on the verge of realizing his right-wing utopia, Weyrich harvested what his friend Morton Blackwell termed the greatest track of virgin timber on the political landscape: evangelicals. Out there is what you might call a moral majority, he told Jerry Falwell in Lynchburg, Pennsylvania, in 1979. That's it, Falwell exclaimed. That's the name of the organization.' [David Grann, "Robespierre of the Right," New Republic, October 27, 1997]

They saw it again, with the growth of the Latino bloc. But they ran into a problem within their own coalition of racists and corporatists, who have radically different ideas of what kind of party they want. The corporatists don't care about the Latino vote but they do care about cheap labor and the racists don't want to be in any party includes a large number of racial minorities (a few are ok, just to prove they aren't really racists.) Rove was going to try to appeal on social issues since Latinos are very family oriented and tend to be Catholics. But he couldn't get past the Tancredo wing and he lost that battle. The only thing left is to try to hold back the tide and ensure that Hispanics feel as disenfranchised as possible by getting the Democrats on board with the immigrant bashing and cranking up the phony "vote fraud" machine.

Democrats need to figure out a way to address the underlying issues that have many American working people upset and feeling insecure while insuring Latinos are treated decently and with compassion and fairness, whether migrant or citizen. Harsh, enforcement-only crackdowns on undocumented workers sow fear and create havoc in immigrant communities and the daily lives of citizens and undocumented alike.

The Democratic party, if only for self interest, if not basic human decency, must resist efforts to fan the right wing flames on this issue and insist on comprehensive immigration reform instead of harsh legislation that will only benefit the Republicans. Everyone knows Republicans do this stuff. Democrats helping them do it is both immoral and stupid.