Truly [L]insane Republicans

Here’s a truly odd observation from the usually-excellent Marc Ambinder.  Writing about Jeremy Lin, Asian-Americans, and the Republican Party, Ambinder argues:

If Republicans were to rid themselves of their anti-immigrant wing, or if they choose not allow their primaries to be controlled by it, there is no real reason why Asian-Americans can’t become a true swing constituency. Their allegiances with the Democratic Party are tenuous. “If Asians vote for Republicans like Jews have traditionally voted for Democrats, Republicans could see many advantages,” [Asian right-wing activist Tony] Lee says. “For that to happen, Asians have to see conservatism as the best way for them to be more integrated and assimilated into the mainstream for themselves and their children, which should not be that hard a sell.” Look again at Lin’s own story: he faced discrimination as a kid playing on the courts of (even) Palo Alto, and slurs while at Harvard, but because of his superior natural abilities, rose up through the most meritocratic institution in society. There is no affirmative action based on race or last name. If you can’t play, you are not going to get on the court. That up-by-the-sneaker-laces narrative is a vital part of Lin’s appeal—and the Republican deal.

The first, and probably most important criticism is that the “up-by-the-sneaker-laces narrative” is most definitely not the “Republican deal.”  Today’s GOP is committed to doing everything it can to ensure economic inequality and social immobility.  It seeks to destroy all those things that enhance mobility and to even discussing the issue.  Paul Ryan made a big deal about saying economic inequality was irrelevant because American has more social mobility: when confronted with the inconvenient truth that the United States is far less mobile than Europe, he has dropped the discussion altogether.

Even more strange, though, is Ambinder’s argument that Republicans could win Asian-American votes if they “rid themselves of their anti-immigrant wing, or if they choose not allow their primaries to be controlled by it.”  Well, yes: and they could also win gay and lesbian votes if they rid themselves of anti-gay bigotry.  They could get more Black votes if they rid themselves of racist dog-whistles like the :”Food Stamp President” or Obama’s alleged reliance on teleprompters.  But like anti-gay bigotry and racial prejudice, xenophobia is a key component defining today’s GOP.  As Theda Skocpol and Vanessa Williamson have demonstrated in their recent brilliant book on the Tea Party, anti-immigrant sentiment is the most salient issue holding the Tea Party (and thus the Republican Party) together.  Rick Perry’s collapse in the primary did not occur because he obviously has no business coming anywhere near the White House: it occurred because of his defense of illegal immigrants and his (absolutely accurate) assessment of his competitors as “lacking heart” on the issue.
We can have fun with this game! A midget would have a real shot at the NBA if he were seven feet tall.  But it gets old in a hurry. 

Author: Jonathan Zasloff

Jonathan Zasloff teaches Torts, Land Use, Environmental Law, Comparative Urban Planning Law, Legal History, and Public Policy Clinic - Land Use, the Environment and Local Government. He grew up and still lives in the San Fernando Valley, about which he remains immensely proud (to the mystification of his friends and colleagues). After graduating from Yale Law School, and while clerking for a federal appeals court judge in Boston, he decided to return to Los Angeles shortly after the January 1994 Northridge earthquake, reasoning that he would gladly risk tremors in order to avoid the average New England wind chill temperature of negative 55 degrees. Professor Zasloff has a keen interest in world politics; he holds a PhD in the history of American foreign policy from Harvard and an M.Phil. in International Relations from Cambridge University. Much of his recent work concerns the influence of lawyers and legalism in US external relations, and has published articles on these subjects in the New York University Law Review and the Yale Law Journal. More generally, his recent interests focus on the response of public institutions to social problems, and the role of ideology in framing policy responses. Professor Zasloff has long been active in state and local politics and policy. He recently co-authored an article discussing the relationship of Proposition 13 (California's landmark tax limitation initiative) and school finance reform, and served for several years as a senior policy advisor to the Speaker of California Assembly. His practice background reflects these interests: for two years, he represented welfare recipients attempting to obtain child care benefits and microbusinesses in low income areas. He then practiced for two more years at one of Los Angeles' leading public interest environmental and land use firms, challenging poorly planned development and working to expand the network of the city's urban park system. He currently serves as a member of the boards of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy (a state agency charged with purchasing and protecting open space), the Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice (the leading legal service firm for low-income clients in east Los Angeles), and Friends of Israel's Environment. Professor Zasloff's other major activity consists in explaining the Triangle Offense to his very patient wife, Kathy.

34 thoughts on “Truly [L]insane Republicans”

  1. There’s such a thing as believing your own propaganda too much. The GOP isn’t anti-immigrant, it’s anti illegal immigrant. No matter how much people who don’t want border enforcement insist on ignoring that distinction, it still exists, and is important to everybody who doesn’t want open borders.

    Which is upwards of 70% of the population, and most legal immigrants.

      1. Yes, they have. As inept as the Dems are in many of their campaigns, failing to frame the issues in a favorable light, that’s what the Republicans have done (failed to do) with the problem of illegal immigration. That, plus failing to come up with a coherent policy to push, which puts them in the same bullpen with the Dems on that issue.

        1. Neither has the GOP helped itself by completely distorting the impact of illegal immigrants on crime in an appeal to fear and xenophobia. In addition, making the distinction between legal and illegal immigrants is often tricky because of bonds of sympathy and family between the two groups.

    1. Right. Which is why legal immigrants are leaving states like Arizona and Alabama. It is not that being hassled for being the wrong color is that big of a deal, right?

      Must be because bluer states are more receptive to young bucks on welfare, or anchor babies, or something that is sure to kill the demographic. Someday, just you wait. Too bad about the crops, I guess we’ ll just have you outsource fruit production to, say, venezuela. Hey, I’m sure White America will survive.

      1. I know plenty of legal immigrants here in South Carolina, and the closest thing to being “hassled” they seem to experience is that they can’t get their drivers’ licenses renewed at all the DMV offices. A remarkably cosmopolitan area, Greenville.

        1. Yeah, and legal- legal- immigrants being unable to renew their driver’s licenses at DMV offices isn’t an actual hassle. Why, you probably have the same exact problem but forgot to mention it. What are these people complaining about? Sheesh.

        2. You might notice that I was talking about two states, neither of which include Greenville.

          Although it wouldn’t surprise me if an ambitious state employee in SC trys the same thing – the model language is floating around like a caged outline for a hard law prof’s class.

    2. If the GOP were pro-legal immigration they would support making visas and citizenship easier to obtain. The fact is they have opposed this on numerous occasions, from Bush’s “amnesty” proposal, to McCain flip-flopping on the issue to win the 2008 nomination, to the failure of the dream act. Republicans only trot out this line about only opposing legal immigration to obfuscate on the real issue- this has nothing to do with immigration per se, but everything to do with culture. This is what the Tea Party rallying cry about “taking back our country” is all about. It’s a cry for a time when America was whiter, less diverse, and darker skinned folks weren’t so uppity. This explains the Tancredos, the english languange only movement, and all the oldsters who complain about hearing Spanish spoken in public. This is what the GOP has become- a backwards looking, reactionary, elderly, angry rump obsessed with a changing culture they don’t recognize. They are angry because they grew up in a world where being white (and male) conferred social, political and economic privilege, and now that is less and less the case. They rage against immigrants (and Obama) as a proxy for their percieved decline.

    3. I disagree. FAIR is anti-immigration, and they certainly are on the GOPer con side. Likewise, the anti-Latino sentiment espoused by Tom Tancredo was certainly not directed merely at illegals, but at Latinos in general; ditto Pat Buchanan. Lastly, when asked about appealing to the Latino vote, how did Rick Santorum respond? By equating “illegals” with “Latinos.” This is not something the Dems do to slander GOPer cons; they do it to themselves.

  2. >>We can have fun with this game! A midget would have a real shot at the NBA if he were seven feet tall. But it gets old in a hurry.

    Well said.

  3. For those who insist that the problem is with illegal immigration (emphasis on the illegal, wouldn’t the obvious solution be to sell fully valid green cards for, say, two dollars each? That would drastically reduce the number of illegal immigrants, now, wouldn’t it?

    I strongly suspect there is another animus at work, though. Have we heard of anyone clamoring to build a fence along the U.S.-Canada border to keep out those (white) furriners?

    1. I suppose in the same sense that the solution to bank robberies is to take the money out of the vault, and pile it out on the street for anybody who wants to take some. That would put an end to bank robberies, I suppose…

      There’s a difference between having reasonably high levels of immigration, and having an open door: Any sane immigration policy is going to reject at least some people. People with criminal records, contagious diseases, the functionally illiterate or unemployable.

      People who have entered the country illegally, of course, are by definition members of that first class that any sane policy would exclude.

        1. So John, what were the national immigration laws of the nation of Native Americans, and which ones did you suppose Brett’s ancestors violated when they snuck into this country?

          1. So people X don’t have a formal set of laws, nor formal boundaries, nor formal laws for property ownership, and because of that anyone can come in and take over the land, as long as they write down laws, declare boundaries, etc.

            I’m not saying anything like “all non-Native Americans should leave,” but your “they didn’t violate any National immigration laws, ergo no problem” logic doesn’t fly.

      1. Of course, a libertarian would say, correctly, on the evidence, that undocumented folks as fulfilling a useful function, namely, jobs US folks do not want to take, even if they are prisoners.

        If you hold the belief that people should stand in DMVish lines, well, fine. I will call you a procedural statist. I would prefer that people get work, that Alabama doesn’t have huge problems. but I’m pragmatic that way.

        1. A libertarian would also say that we ought to have a night watchman state. Can’t have a welfare state next to a third world country without border controls, any more than you can have a pool and a clubhouse in your apartment complex next to a ghetto without the community being gated.

      2. Brett Bellmore says:

        ” I suppose in the same sense that the solution to bank robberies is to take the money out of the vault, and pile it out on the street for anybody who wants to take some. That would put an end to bank robberies, I suppose…”

        Wrong, and highly dishonest. The illegality of many immigrants is due to Evul Guvmint Regyulayshun.

        But suddenly Brett looks at government regulation, and likes it.

      3. Brett: “People who have entered the country illegally, of course, are by definition members of that first class that any sane policy would exclude.”

        I don’t think you understand how easy it is to accidentally violate US immigration laws, despite best intentions. There are lots of i’s to be dotted and t’s to be crossed and a single slip-up can make you deportable. Combined with the near absolute discretion that CBP officials have, it’s easy to find yourself on the wrong side of the law. For example, when I was dating my husband (who is English), I made it clear that he should never volunteer to an immigration official the fact that he had an American girlfriend, let alone any marriage plans (of course, not lie about it either, but not volunteer that information in the first place). Why? Because he was legally in America on a non-immigrant F-1 visa to pursue his Ph.D.; and, an immigration official in a bad mood may have construed him having an American girlfriend as having intent to immigrate (a big no-no) and potentially denied him entry. This is not hypothetical; I have a Canadian friend who got turned away at the border when she wanted to visit her American boyfriend and made the mistake of talking too much about him.

        Similarly, a major reason why my husband and I made our home in the UK rather than in America was that dealing with US immigration laws was not worth the hassle in the end. Yes, that was somewhat simplified by the fact that I have dual American/German citizenship (and via my German passport, the right to live and work in the UK), but even if I had only American citizenship, it would have been much easier (like, a typical processing time of two weeks for a British marriage visa back then vs. half a year for an American K-1 visa, and no restrictions on where and when you can marry).

        So, be careful with your “by definition”. US immigration laws and officials can be haphazard and unpredictable, and do not necessarily reflect a sane policy.

        1. I think that, as the spouse of a legal immigrant, working at the American subsidiary of a foreign firm with many immigrant employees, I’m rather better informed on the subject than you suppose. Certainly well enough informed to know that the vast majority of illegal immigrants are not inadvertently so.

          I think we can, however, agree that we do not have a sane immigration policy.

          1. The problem here is that you made a more far-reaching claim than “the vast majority of illegal immigrants are not inadvertently so.”

            You said that “[p]eople who have entered the country illegally, of course, are by definition members of that first class that any sane policy would exclude.”

            It was the latter statement that I took exception with. It does not matter how much experience you personally have with immigration; absolute and unconditional statements of that kind are disproven by a single example (and there are far too many examples, alas, even if they are a minority).

            Mind you, I wouldn’t have cared much, if your claim hadn’t been founded on such an unconditional deference to the letter of the law and government authority.

      4. wait, we should keep people with contagious diseases out? So we should never let a person with AIDS immigrate, even if they are married to a citizen, escaping persecution, or otherwise valuable?
        And yes, I know that has been US policy at various times.

  4. I don’t know. The GOP/conservative mindset just exudes whiteness. Until the thematic narrative of America does some sort of huge switch away from white bread and apple pie, I don’t see the GOP as anything darker than pink. You can get on board that train, and they’ll welcome you, but the engine is heading to Whitesville.

  5. Wait, is THIS why Palin was photographed with a Knicks t-shirt the other day?

    {acronym-for-raucous-laughter-leading-to-some-choking-and-coughing-with-a-short-burst-of-laughter-fading-to-close here]

  6. I have to disagree with Jonathan’s basic premise: that the GOP is anti-immigrant. It is not. Ambinder is more than half right. The GOP is anti-Latino, and anti-black, and anti-Muslim, and probably anti-African and anti-Caribbean. But the GOP tries to be relatively friendly to Asian immigrants. There are a few reasons for this.

    – If you enjoy wallowing in cesspools like (DON’T TRY THIS AT HOME, AND ESPECIALLY NOT AT THE WORKPLACE!), you find that the crazed ideologues are relatively pro-Asian. This allows them to indulge in their fantasies that they are not stone racists, but rather scientific realists. (Some vdare types even pretend to be pro-black, the better to bash the brown and Muslim hordes.)

    – The funding wing of the GOP has no problem with immigration, of any kind. (Of course, they prefer it illegal, to keep wages down.) The culture warriors have great problems with immigration, but they immigrants they see are usually poor non-urban immigrants. That usually means Latinos.

    – America has had a long history of immigrants taking their first step up the ladder by adopting anti-black racism. There is no reason Asians could not do the same, perhaps expanding to Latinos. The GOP knows this.

    – Finally, the GOP knows that Asians are a fairly entrepreneurial lot. For some reason, this makes them think that they are natural Republicans. I’m not sure that this is true: after all, Jews have an entrepreneurial reputation, as well. But Republicans think this, and it shapes their perceptions and strategies.

  7. What is the GOP planning to do with the 30% of illegal immigrants who come here from Canada and Europe on the visa waiver program or with a valid tourist visa and simply fail to go home when their time here is up? Oh, yeah, right, nothing, because most of them are white and speak English. I forgot.

  8. I am an Indian-American, and came here legally with my parents in 1975. Like almost everything else, issues are over-simplified.

    I am as right-wing as they come, believe in deporting illegals, detest the current welfare state, could care less what unhappy leftists have to say, and think Obama is a unmitigated disaster. I believe and continue to believe in the dream of America, the dream for which my late father came here for…that is the unlimited opportunity of the most free, open, and fair country in the history of the world. America does not GUARANTEE success, it only allow the OPPORTUNITY for success. It is what you make of it.

    Too often, Asians and other minorities belive hook, line, and sinker, the lies and distortions being fed to them by the liberal leftist media complex. They begin to believe that racism is behind every corner, and that knuckle dragging Neanderthal republican Texans are out to hang them from the nearest tree. Rubbish. The real racists are the liberals, for whom everything is placing everyone in line with their ideology.

    1. “It is what you make of it. ”

      Alas, therein lies the problem: who makes *you*, right? My liberal argument is that America may not guarantee success, but it can go a long way toward guaranteeing a basic level of leverage so that all can then make themselves successful. Human and social capital are not created out of thin air, from some magical “freedom”, but rather the fruit of generations of culture and well-planned environmental structuring. It can come from family, or government (usually both) but not neither.

      Your second paragraph is shrill, and your own dreadful over-simplification.

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