Tom Tancredo: the death of the Southern Strategy
So if I drain all the tanks the illegals
use to drink when they cross the desert,
can I refill them with salt water. Give 'em a little flavor?
A Border War
Tom Tancredo is pulling the immigration debate to the right—and away from Bush.
By Holly Bailey
Tancredo may not be a household name yet, but he's doing everything he can to change that. As the House and Senate debate the nation's immigration and border-security laws, the four-term Coloradan has positioned himself as the loudest, angriest voice against the estimated 11 million illegal aliens now living in the United States. They are "a scourge that threatens the very future of our nation," he says. He laments "the cult of multiculturalism," and worries about America's becoming a "Tower of Babel." If Republican presidential candidates don't put the problem atop the agenda in 2008, he says he'll run himself, just to force the front runners to talk about it. Not that he thinks he'd win the White House. He declares himself "too fat, too short and too bald" to be president. If the Republicans lose the election because he's too tough on the issue, he says, "So be it."
Not so long ago, Tancredo was regarded as little more than a noisy pest on Capitol Hill. His colleagues shook their heads at his tireless demands for crackdowns on American employers who hire illegals and his idea for a 700-mile-long fence along the Mexican border. But in recent months, some of those same Republicans have come to realize that, while Tancredo may be a crank, he is a crank with a large and passionate following
Bush, forced to step up his own security rhetoric in response to the feud, is still hoping for a compromise. At an immigration meeting at the White House last week, the president said that "the debate must be done in a way that doesn't pit one group of people against another." But Florida Sen. Mel Martinez, a former Bush cabinet member who sides with the president on the issue, fears that's exactly what is happening. "Republicans have made significant gains [among Latinos]," he says, "and we're risking all of that by allowing ourselves to be positioned as anti-immigrant ... We are at great peril."
He's remained unapologetic about his views. In 2002, The Denver Post ran a human-interest story about a high-school honors student who couldn't get college financial aid because he was in the United States illegally. Tancredo tried to have the boy and his family deported. (He was unsuccessful.)
The other side of the Southern Strategy was to appease white abti-Castro Cubans, and support white landowners in the Southwest and California. But since the GOP has the inability to learn, they forgot the last time immigrant bashing became an issue. Remember Prop 187? The law that made California blue. What they wanted to do was bar illegals from all services. Which was unconsititutional.
Now, like a fat, Western Jesse Helms, here comes Tom Tancredo.
He doesn't care about the fate of the party, he just wants them brown people gone. Only problem, they're the fastest growing group of Americans. And Chicanos with 200 years in the US don't like anti-immigration laws any more than the most recent fence jumpers. And as Prop 187 proves, they vote.
Oh yeah, the Catholic Church opposes this as well.
If Bush was smart, he'd call Tancredo out on his racism. But he won't, because the base will go nuts.
The smart Dem play is to offer a moderate bill, along the lines of Bush's, and the the GOP go to war.
It may seem funny that this is the ultimate outcome of the Southern Strategy, but it is. Most Americans forget how virulent anti-Mexican racism has been. It's different than anti-black racism, they were never segregated in the military, they didn't have the most onerous conditions of Jim Crow, but then black kids were never beaten in the LA County schools for speaking Spanish. HBO has a movie called "Walkout" about the rebellion of the students of the LA county schools to this second class treatment.
We forget that much of the Southwest was built on changing ownership of the land from small Mexican farmers and ranchers to big white farmers and ranchers. And that Mexicans were barred from jobs in the same way blacks were without the benefit of law.
My favorite story, which a book was written about, was when New York nuns sent Irish orphans to be raised by Catholic families in the Southwest. Only problem, the families were Mexican. Well, the white folks went batshit, got their guns, threatened the nuns and took the kids. How dare they let white kids be raised by Mexicans, was the thinking.
So in the end, what was done to blacks, would eventually affect the largest minority group, no matter who it was. Now it's Mexicans. The GOP thought they could use conservatism and religion to wedge in with Latinos. But as always, the racists raise their shiny heads and help turn the GOP into the white man's party. And of course, they could always hint that brown was better than black.
Now, even black pols, often prone to immigrant bash because of jobs, see what this is, the war against brown people. Tancredo gives the game up, and his buddy Lou Dobbs doesn't help matters.
A smart Republican would denounce the Minutemen, not ride shotgun with them. Not wage vengeful campaigns to deport teenagers, not do and say things which make it clear that we're not just talking about illegal immigration. When Tancredo opens his mouth about multiculturalism, which this country has always had, we know he's speaking code for "goddamn Mexicans are ruining the US and no more better come."
We need to get immigration policy away from fantasy and into reality, like as long as Mexico limits opportunities for metizos and Indians, we're going to get the ambitious ones and should have a plan for them to come legally and be paid fairly, driving up wages for everyone.
As long as immigration policy is based on thinly veiled race hatred and punative measures, we're not going to have an effective immigration policy. Local law enforcement doesn't like helping ICE now. Add felonies on it, they will like it even less.
Oh yeah., and we need one. Something about people crossing borders with intention to do harm.
But this isn't going to make a dent in that.
posted by Steve @ 5:32:00 PM