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Works and Days

Anatomies of Electoral Madness

November 9th, 2012 - 6:17 pm

“Gonna be some hard times coming down.”

—Kris Kristofferson, Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid

One way of making sense out of nonsense in this new age is simply to believe the opposite of what you read. I have been doing that and it often works.

Latinos — Please Vote for Us…

Take the sudden Latino vote obsession. I don’t think not supporting the Dream Act, as we are told, factored in much at all in the Republican defeat — or at least no more than losing by the same margin the Asian vote, or (by a slightly smaller margin) the youth vote, or (by a much bigger margin) the black vote.

These groups, to the extent they exist as definable and predictable cohorts in the age of assimilation, integration, and intermarriage, mostly were Axelrodded. By that I mean that after six months of a vicious campaign — spiced up by a Sandra Fluke (on death’s doorstep due to lack of free condoms) or a Joseph (“all white folks are going to hell”) Lowery — and after four years of quotes like “fat-cat bankers on Wall Street, “you didn’t build that,” “fair share,” “nation of cowards,” “my people,” and “our enemies,” these groups more or less resented the older, and supposedly whiter, male establishment. In that sense, a decent fellow like Mitt Romney was reduced to a cutthroat, outsourcing, racist, tax-cheating, felon-committing epitome. (Our goddess Nemesis noticed — so beware, Mr. Axelrod and Mr. Obama, she is an all-powerful, take-no-prisoners deity with a long memory.)

Since the election, I have talked to all sorts of non-white and young people; most, after such a barrage, voiced a sort of Obama-fed feeling of “things are going our way and this is our future.” That such chauvinism is racialist and just as bad as the old white/alright racism matters nothing. But until these groups are jumbled up — following the path of Italians who, after immigration from Sicily and Italy ceased, fragmented culturally and politically due to economic success — we are in for some strange times.

In my area, voters were just as mad that Romney wanted legal immigration for those with skills, education, and capital. You see, that too sounded “racist,” or at least threatening to the system that has been letting about ½ million to 1 million annually in illegally from Latin America, the vast majority without a high school diploma.

Numbers are what the immigration issue is about, after all. When I go to the bank and someone speaks an indigenous Oaxaca dialect and cannot read the information on the check (and on rare occasions endorses with a mark), I am apparently seen as a racist to think that the country might benefit from one Croatian immigrant, with a Ph.D. in electrical engineering, allowed legal entry for every three who can’t speak English (or sometimes Spanish) and crossed into the country illegally.

As far as the grand bargain, the Dream Act, comprehensive immigration reform, or whatever the rubric of the day that a clueless Republican establishment employs: just imagine the opposite to learn the truth. If the Republicans were to agree to amnesty for, say, two million who were brought here as children and are in school or in the military, do you really think the “Latino community” in response would celebrate and then also agree to deport those who did not qualify? Or do you imagine the deal would at least result in deportation for those entirely on public assistance or with a criminal record? Did the Reagan-era Simpson-Mazzoli Act amnesty lead to 1) an end to calls for amnesty, 2) closing the border, 3) a surge in Latino support for Republicans, or 4) none of the above?

Does a conservative message of lower taxes, less government, and fewer regulations really appeal to Latinos en masse, who define La Familia values as something that includes a big and paternalistic government, along the Spanish/European model? Out here I see no difference in rates of abortion, divorce, criminality, or illegitimacy between whites and Latinos, and suspect the latter may have higher rates. So family values are defined somewhat differently from the Republican silk-stocking view that Latinos are natural Republicans — if only (fill in the blanks).  Again, I would like the Democrats to introduce the Dream Act, and then watch whether closed borders, E-Verify, and deportation of criminals were part of the deal. That is not to say one should not talk in softer tones and be magnanimous; but one is fooling oneself if one believes a cheap Dream Act endorsement would mean anything.

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