Thursday, March 30, 2006

Political Earthquake

The worm has turned and all those Latinos in the streets represent the beginning of the end to an era of (r)epublican majorities:

“The San Diego Union-Tribune” reported remarks by Fabian Nuñez, the young speaker of the California Assembly from Los Angeles.

“All of this has been a wake-up call for the [r]epublican Party,” he told reporters yesterday. “You can’t pander to the right by picking on immigrants. It’s not going to work anymore...This is going to work against the interests of the [r]epublican Party in November.”

So why should we listen to a Latino Democrat talk about the (r)epublicans’ demise? Because he’s right that’s why.

But here’s another column from the same San Diego paper, which covers a city with more than mild stake in immigration issues; border city that it is.

Former Congressman Lionel Van Deerlin, another Democrat, talks about the(r)epublican face on this issue:

“The resentment brimming from these rallies – and from some less orderly student marches days later – stems from action taken in the House of Representatives late last year, and already as outdated as King George’s tax on tea. House leaders jammed through a bill to deport everyone who’s in our land illegally and punish any American giving them aid and comfort.”

He discusses the role played by Rep. Tom Tancredo, a rather heartless (r)epublican who chairs the House Immigration Caucus (of his creation) and, “exhibits the personal traits of both Bull Connor and Madame Defarge –while showing scarcely more respect for his president than for any of the 12 million illegals reporting in our midst.”

Here’s the scribe’s take:

The marches represent a political earthquake for their size, intensity, duration, surprise, spontaneity, and the fact they took form in a parallel, Latino U.S. using its own media to drum thousands into the streets.

There are dirty secrets to American currents of political thought. Secrets because they are never discussed publicly, and not really secrets because the native-born citizen’s intuition divines it.

To wit: When (r)epublicans have a national nominating convention, they put a lot of Latinos on-stage, speak Spanish intermittently and symbolically, ask those doing the television camera work to seek out and focus on the brown people present.

That’s because they are a largely white, homeland party and don’t have the “natural” concerns the Democratic Party, rooted in ethnic social movements and identity politics, possesses. They may stray in fits, starts, and exceptions, but Latinos know who their natural friends are on this issue.

The same thing happens to Democrats with patriotism and national security. There are more American flags waving at a nominating convention of Democrats, because everyone knows of the party's dependence upon a farther afield progressive left awash in the international traditions of the 19th Century socialist and union movements; less given to viewing things exclusively within a national framework.

National security? The party traded in those credentials for the legitimacy and electoral rewards its belated opposition to Viet Nam war lent it. Democrats just don’t have the same red-blooded violent approach that makes Americans feel comfortable in unsettling times.

And (r)epublicans have ridden that advantage for some five years since Sept. 11, 2001.

But the streets have filled with the urgency (and implied violence) of a people that will not be jailed and humiliated for the work they do and tax they pay. No amount of PR can move them, because what caused the initial tremors was the (r)epublican Party’s callous nativism.

What happens next is this: Hungry for a legislative victory and a patina of continuing relevance, the Bush Administration passes an amnesty, mixed-up with more enforcement spending, in coalition with Democrats and mod-Republicans against the wishes of the beloved “base,” which is becoming as much a pain in his ass as it was for poppy.

The deal sealed, the (r)epublican coalition cracks up for good and the Democrats gain the graces of an energized demographic for a long time to come.

(The cartoon is by the "L.A. Weekly's" Lalo Alcaraz).

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