Why Isn't Rahm Emanuel His Brother's Keeper?

by: Chris Bowers

Tue Oct 23, 2007 at 19:49

Sage advice from Rahm Emanuel on immigration:

"This issue has real implications for the country. It captures all the American people's anger and frustration not only with immigration, but with the economy," said Rep. Rahm Emanuel (Ill.), chairman of the House Democratic Caucus and an architect of the Democratic congressional victories of 2006. "It's self-evident. This is a big problem."(…)

"For the American people, and therefore all of us, it's emerged as the third rail of American politics," Emanuel said. "And anyone who doesn't realize that isn't with the American people."

This isn't the first time Emanuel has publicly encouraged Democrats to take right-wing stances on immigration. Basically, he has told everyone willing to listen that this is his advice. As I have written before, he has told multiple people I know that this is the reason he thinks so many Democratic women lost close races in 2006. As Howie Klein recently reported, he also appears to have disgusted several Democratic candidates for House in 2008 by recently telling them all at the training to do the same thing this year.

What is Emanuel's problem here? Not only is it disgusting and immoral to scapegoat a national minority in order to gain power for yourself, not only do foreign-born Americans represent over 11% of the national population, but doesn't it occur to him that angering the largest growth demographics in American politics is just a stupid thing for the party to do long-term? Sure, all of 6% of the population considers immigration to be the top issue facing America in recent open-ended questions, but only are those voters almost certainly very unlikely to ever vote for Democrats anyway, but they don't represent massive growth demographics in America. Latinos and Asians represent 10% of the national voting population, and they are growing fast. Not to mention that Latinos represented the largest, pro-Democratic swing of any demographic group in 2006.

  So what if Jim Ogonoski cut a 10% deficit to a 6% deficit by running hard-right on immigration. In the first poll after the primary, with 4% undecided and 5% indicating they would vote for third party candidates, any member of the challenging party would be expected to make up 2% simply via the incumbent rule. That means that Ogonoski pulled in, at best, about 2% from his right-wing stance on immigration. Are we seriously willing to trade about 2% of the vote in one election, for 10% of the vote in elections over the next few decades? And isn't it even possible that the other 2% can be chalked up to Ogonoski simply being a more effective speaker or harder campaigner, rather than any issues he is running on?

Are we seriously willing to throw both our principles and a large minority that tends to be supportive of Democrats under the bus in order to gain a small, short term benefit that will sink our long-term electoral prospects? Rahm Emanuel is. Actually, when I think about how the Rahm Emanuel's of the Democratic Party want to scapegoat pro-Democratic immigrants in order to win an election, it reminds me of wealthy Democratic consultants who want to scapegoat the netroots and the blogosphere while still taking our money. Whatever happened to, as Barack Obama said during his 2004 convention speech, "I'm my brother's keeper," or "I'm my sister's keeper?" It strikes me that this is actually a key aspect of the corporate, "centrist," DLC-nexus wing of the party: they do not see themselves as their brother or sister's keeper. What other allies do they want to throw under the bus and publicly scapegoat in order to increase their own power? With the netroots and immigrants under their belt, maybe it is time to start going after unions, especially teacher's unions. Or how about African-Americans? I bet we could do well if we ran against affirmative action and welfare queens, too. After that, maybe we should go after seculars, and then start attacking homosexuals. Sadly, we have already done many of these things in recent elections.

What is good for the goose is good for the gander. If we think it helps us to win elections by scapegoating some of our minority allies, imagine how well we would do if we scapegoated all of our minority allies? After all, if there is anyone who hurts Democrats more than their allies, I have no idea who that is. Let's attack them all to the right of Republicans, in order to shield ourselves from Republican attacks.

Chris Bowers :: Why Isn't Rahm Emanuel His Brother's Keeper?

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Rham's immigration framing problem (4.00 / 1)
This is a classic example of how buying into your opponent's frames distorts your perception of issues.  If you accept that the issue here is illegal immigration, then you lose, because the only morally acceptable solution to law breaking is law enforcement (caveat/pot-shot: the other acceptable solution is clearly retroactive Congressional immunity).  But is the problem here really that laws are being broken?

If Rahm could think a little more broadly, he could channel people's frustration with lawlessness and cheating away from immigrants fleeing untenable situations at home (the people at the bottom) and towards the criminals that run our government (the people at the top).  After, the US has spent an awful lot of time and resources making sure no one else in the world can get ahead in life...why shouldn't they want to come here?

The solution to "illegal immigration" is justice and compassion applied to the rest of the world, not "justice" and punitive measures applied to the victims.

Yes we Kang

NAFTA, etc. (0.00 / 0)
The counter is obvious.  Immigration is such a big deal because Republican and DLC Democrats have given away the store on trade and jobs.  BTW, they also have given away the store on a whole lot of protections for American workers: unions, job safety, health care, pensions, bankruptcy laws (or should I say "bank"ruptcy).  Plus the penny pinching has stalled a lot of the normal growth in the economy.

As Jesse Jackson said so memorably in 1988, "a rising tide lifts all boats."  We don't need to be fighting over a diminishing piece of the pie; we need to be baking more pies.

Disgustingly.... (0.00 / 0)
Un-American Rep. Emmanuel. Where did you study American History?

Regent University?

One wonders if 'The Rabbit' has ever given a moment's consideration to the process by which his family entered America.

That would seem to be a good research project for some industrious IL blogger.

I might do it myself.

Peace, Health and Prosperity for Everyone.

That's what I was thinking (0.00 / 0)
someone needs to ask Emanuel why he thinks he is better than other immigrants.

[ Parent ]
Because Rahm has to be responsible to citizens first (0.00 / 0)
To render public opposition to illegal aliens as "scapegoating" is too simplistic. Despite the partisan framing of immigration in the media, this issue for many people is about the value and perception of fairness shared by Democrats, Republicans, and Independent voters.

As a long-time Democrat, however, I am deeply troubled tonight with Senators Reid and Durbin's repeated attempts to serve the narrow interests of open-border, big money advocates by trying to push through the so-called DREAM Act (S. 2205) (and an increase in the number of H-1B visas).

I live in Prince William County, Va., and I supported the Board of County Supervisors' vote last week to crack down on illegal aliens in the county. I believe that the Board's plan supports and respects the effort legal immigrants have made to follow the rules and share a stake in creating safe, healthy communities.

However, ignoring the unchecked growth of illegal aliens in our county further erodes opportunities for working- and middle-class citizens who wish to pursue their own goals and dreams. For instance, the Woodbridge campus of Northern Virginia Community College has turned away many students this fall, because enrollment has skyrocketed. College president Robert Templin Jr. stated that the influx of students is due to the rapid increase in population growth in Prince William County and the other surrounding counties.

Like other citizens, my family and I have worked hard for generations, contributing to the commonwealth for the common good, to build these institutions and the infrastructures that support them.  This is personal.  I am doing the best I can to help my daughter through college so that she can pursue her goals and dreams. And if there is one seat left in that school, it is going to go to my baby.

Unfortunately, most Democrats seem destined to misjudge the intense, visceral opposition to illegal migration in terms of fairness towards citizens at their own electoral peril.

congratulations (0.00 / 0)
the housing crash in Prince William County is about to get worse because the immigrants are moving out.

Guess racial scapegoating isn't working out so well.

[ Parent ]
Some progressive moral values you have... (0.00 / 0)
So, it's okay to exploit illegal cheap labor for personal benefit, or to reduce the availability of working-class jobs and diminish educational opportunities so long we don't upset the housing market? Wow.

[ Parent ]
It's easy to miss the point when you buy into... (4.00 / 2)
Right wing frames.

...this issue for many people is about the value and perception of fairness shared by Democrats, Republicans, and Independent voters.

Polling consistently shows that a majority, from 60 to 68%, favor a 'Path to Citizenship'. More than a few economists have concluded that 'illegal immigrants' are net economic gain for the communities the reside in. The voters, in the main, are far more 'fair' than 'The Rabbit' thinks; if indeed it can be said that he 'thinks' at all.

As to the statement from the head of your local college that there might not be room for your child I respectfully submit to you that there might be much more of a connection between the 'conservative' tax meme than there is with illegal immigrants. And keep in mind all this has happened more than once in America as successive waves immigrants reached our shores and it would seem that they got educated. They got educated because the taxpayers insisted that that happen and paid the money to make it happen. This despite the rich fighting universal education every step of the way. Which they are still doing when they tell you 'there's no room...'

Americans generally are very fair and they've said, 'Let them in!'

'The Rabbit' is just plain dumb re the political implications. One thing that sticks out is the simple fact that many of these illegal immigrants have relatives already here....

Who are registered to vote.

And who are politically engaged as the Republicans have already found out.

Frankly, I find 'The Rabbit' to be more than a little racist in his frames. This particular episode really sucks in that regard.

Peace, Health and Prosperity for Everyone.

I'd really like (0.00 / 0)
to see all of what Emanuel said and who he was addressing to make sure this isn't a cherry picked quote by the WaPo who is showing their RW bias more and more every passing day.

As for the quote itself if that is 'all' that he said he is not throwing anyone under the bus with it. He is basically saying two things: One that he feels we lost a couple of close races because of the immigration debate and Secondly in many people minds it is an economic issue. On both counts he is right. He certainly did not say we as Democrats should change our policy on immigration which I think this diary is suggesting that is what he is saying.

Perhaps in the past he has suggested that some candidates move right on immigration in their races. But what races were they? If they were hard fought right leaning or slightly right advantaged districts then that may have been good advice. One can 'talk' a little tougher on immigration without changing the Party's actual policy - that's just politics, I don't see any problem in trying to rhetorically inoculate ourselves when it comes to immigration in a tight race. There is nothing wrong with fudging your position a little bit in order to win a race and therefore help maintain a majority.

FWIW I am for a pathway to citizenship. But at the same time I also see the concern of many Americans with the huge economic burden created with illegal immigrants.

Why go after .. (4.00 / 1)
illegals .. why not go after the companies that hire them? .. 7 years ago .. my cousin spent the summer between college semesters working as a roofer ... making $15/hr ..so go figure what a lot of OT would be at time and a half .. anyway .. there is no way he could get a job doing that now .. they'll pay someone $7 .. if that .. crack down on the companies .. and things will change .. but Rahm can't advocate that .. he's a corporate whore

[ Parent ]
Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! (0.00 / 0)
Just pretend there's no Elephant in the room.

Peace, Health and Prosperity for Everyone.

[ Parent ]
I don't think Rahm (0.00 / 0)
was going after illegals in his quote. And neither was Bowers.

You seem to be the one who is for booting them out. If that is what you think then just come out and say so.

[ Parent ]
I think that this statement.... (4.00 / 3)
There is nothing wrong with fudging your position a little bit in order to win a race and therefore help maintain a majority.

Puts you out of step with most posters on this site and it sure as heck puts you at odds with my opinion of the man.

That's OK as we are all truly entitled to our opinion. But in the case of Rep. Emmanuel there is far more than you mention at play.

Emmanuel is the guy who absolutely, resolutely insisted that Democrats not run on a plank of getting out of Iraq in the mid-term elections. And now this guy is getting it right by agreeing with the Republican Party's approach to Latino voters? Check the polling on this.

Mel Martinez resigned as head of the RNC. I do not think that a coincidence.

Despite what 'The Rabbit' would have America believe an argument can be made, and was on this site, that his management of the mid-terms COST the Democrats seats. That is the Dem majority would be bigger if not for his fumbling and inept and just flat wrong electioneering in 2006.

Duckworth is just one example.

'The Rabbit' is to put it charitably one dumb bunny! And I for one have not interest in what he advises...except as something to be avoided.

Sorry to go on at such length but Emmanuel is in my opinion the next gate we gotta crash.

Peace, Health and Prosperity for Everyone.

[ Parent ]
Nice list (0.00 / 0)
of why you don't like Emanuel but I was only addressing what he said on immigration in that one article.

As for my opinion you quoted there isn't a Democratic Presidential Candidate nor any member in the House or Senate that hasn't done what I said about fudging their position and I would include the Kennedy's and the Feingold's in that statement. If "most" posters here do not believe that or cannot accept that then they are the ones out of step with politics. This is not utopia you know.

[ Parent ]
Without arguing your contention that.... (0.00 / 0)
....'everybody does it....' as to the facts.

Didn't your mom ever tell you that that was not a winning argument.

We are all very, very aware we don't live in a utopia.

With such as 'The Rabbit' leading us you need have no fear that we.....

Ever will.

Peace, Health and Prosperity for Everyone.

[ Parent ]
Actually At Times (0.00 / 0)
"everybody does it" is a winning argument - even in a court of law at times.

If you don't understand that fudging your position is not only part of politics but part of life then you have some catching up to do. But then I am sure you know what I said is true as I'd bet that you fudged on what you have told people in your life more than once - as all people have. It's called the little harmless white lie that we have all been guilty of.

[ Parent ]
Let me clarify something for you. (0.00 / 0)
'Fudging one's position....' for most current politicians is a form of lying in my opinion.

And one more thing....

I'd really, really, really fucking appreciate it if you would stop telling me what I 'understand...' or 'that I have some catching up to do...'

You are the one trying to assert that lying, spin and other forms of manipulation are unavoidable. That there's just nothing progressive can or should do about these methods of propaganda.

Such rhetoric is one and the same with that used by Beck, Limbaugh and Mr. Decider himself and is not a form of discourse that most progressives would use.

Shorter Form: Having read most of your comments here I feel no need to pay any attention to what you're saying as you are mostly wrong.

Peace, Health and Prosperity for Everyone.

[ Parent ]
"Let me clarify something for you" (0.00 / 0)
And then you go on to tell me I should not make statements like you just did and have done in other posts to me previously. That's kind of like Bush accusing others of playing politics, as if he doesn't - LOL. Or should I say people in glass houses...

Yeah fudging is lying - that is what I said - it is a white lie. And I even said you have done so yourself. Are you going to say here in front of God and everyone that you have never told a white lie? I doubt it. But yet you expect others to not do what all people do including yourself? Get real.

"I feel no need to pay any attention to what you're saying as you are mostly wrong."

Well I am sure people have said the same to you with good reason.

The fact is that when people don't have the knowledge to understand what others are saying then they always say the other person is wrong because they lack the capacity to understand what is being said in the first place. In your case you simply don't have the capacity or the will or the openness of mind to understand my and others point of view. You do much better parroting what thousands of other parrots say on the internet. It's like a parrot virus that keeps spreading.

But I will take pleasure in your not paying attention to me anymore regardless of your lack of comprehension. It is not at all thought provoking to have a little attack robot nipping at your pant leg every time you turn around and you seem rather pleased to do that often.

Shorter form: If you no longer want to pay attention to what I say then quit reading and responding to my posts.


[ Parent ]
Short term, it's fairly neutral. Long term, it's negative (0.00 / 0)
If you're running in a conservative seat, turning right on immigration is unlikely to work exceptionally there. The Republicans are always going to be able to beat you there. Attacking them in an economically populist way, which can address immigration but must make sure to point out that they're not the enemy, allows clearer divisions to be drawn that put the Republicans firmly on the negative side.

And long term, going right on immigration is bad for progressivism. Not just in the national aspect, although the fact that that candidate will have to remain anti-immigrant isn't going to help in producing a Congress sympathetic to immigrants, but on a local level it reinforces right-wing memes and makes it that much harder to drag the seat back in a progressive direction.

Forgotten Countries - a foreign policy-focused blog

[ Parent ]
Tammy Duckworth (4.00 / 1)
I remember Rahm putting millions into a campaign for Tammy Duckworth in an Illinois district. I also remember a ridiculous photo advertisement with the democrat Tammy Duckworth and the words "no amnesty" placed on the photo. Trying to show a hard line. But Tammy Duckworth  lost in 2006. So clearly Rahm doesn't have a clue.
He put millions with "no amnesty" and lost the election.
If he wants to take the Democrats to the right on this issue, he should tell us now. I wouldn't vote at all if that were the case.


If you check the poll numbers.... (4.00 / 2)
...you'll find that the Latino vote supporting Duckworth cratered shortly after that outlandish flyer came out.

I have friends in that district, and we all just simply could not believe that this was coming out of her campaign.

[ Parent ]
My two bits... (4.00 / 4)
I come from a family of immigrants, for the most part.

My father's father's line goes back to the mid-1750's in North Carolina, among the Scotch-Irish.

My father's mother's line goes back to the mid-1800's, escaping the Prussian envelopment of the North German states.

My mother's father was a German-American orphan born in Chicago, one of twins who never learned of the fate of his brother, let alone of his parents.

My mother's mother was the only real American - a Comanche.

To say that I have some special benefit because I showed up sooner and have paler skin is outlandish.  To sell that to the public is promoting hate speech.

Yes, I know that people crossed into this country illegally.  I also know that they do so because we have a system in place that demands cheap labor and damn the consequences, one that pits working class citizens against these same immigrants, one that refuses to go after the people that offer these jobs and punish them for pitting two groups of people against one another.

I also know that racism is a constant companion of immigration as an issue.  When I was a child, my grandfather used to tell me his "Swedish jokes" that his father told him, back from the 1880s and 1890s, when some of the good people of the Midwest were still convinced that Scandanavians were going to work for peanuts and cause everyone else to lose their jobs.

"NO BLACKS, NO IRISH".  Which soon changed to Irish afraid of the oncoming Italians.

Southerners as afraid for a while of southern Europeans as much as of African Ameircans, until they chased most of them out of the region.

Western white men never trusting Native Americans or Latinos. 

Finally, I know that when you make it harder for any working man or woman to get by in a harsh economic and legal environment, to blame it on someone as "the other" instead of fixing the system in place borders on criminal.

For Representative Emmanuel, a beneficiary of the last great wave of immigration before our most recent great wave of the 1980s, to agree with such actions, in effect to agree with such people by refusing to challenge them, is not worthy to call himself a Democrat.

[censored profanity] (0.00 / 0)
Comprehensive immigration reform has strong public support. It just needs a strong president with a bully pulpit to be passed.

I cannot even imagine the Democrats using the immigration issue to race bate. It would be an idiotic move to insult a huge portion of the country.

I you want health care, work hard. If you want universal health care, vote for liberals.

Pete Wilson (4.00 / 3)
Lest we forget, before California Governor Pete Wilson embarked on a previous wave of immigrant bashing, California was a state with a Republican lean. Nowadays, California has something like 34 Democrats and 19 Republicans in its House delegation.  The Republicans consist of 18 white males and the widow of a white male congressman.  The Democrats are incredibly diverse with about half women, Asians, blacks, and hispanics. 

This whole new wave of immigrant bashing has won the Republicans how many seats in the House and Senate?  Can you count any?  It all springs from that Minute Man fool getting 25% in a special election and finishing third.  What did Jim Gilchrist prove electorally?  Not much.

This is something that is wrong.  Wrong on the policy, wrong on the ethics.  And very wrong on the politics in the medium and long term.  We shouldn't appeal to hate and prejudice anyway.  But appealing to it when it is a known loser is just plain dumb.

Back around when I was 14 or so, an aunt recycled some conservative talking point at the time and attacked Martin Luther King as a communist.  It was more than 40 years ago, but I've always felt blessed that I took up the side of King.  Well, this one is just as wrong headed.  Do we want to be on the side of the angels or what?

The hardest thing in the world of power... (4.00 / 1)
...is to fess up to the fact that we are supposed to be the good guys, and must ACT as such, no matter how much of a pain in the ass it is.

When the desire for power and the simplicity of succumbing to selfishness trump what we front ourselves as, we become the enemy.

[ Parent ]
A very good point and.... (0.00 / 0)

....you really have to wonder at 'The Rabbit' both as to how he can be so obviously wrong on this issue and why someone as dumb as this can achieve his position in the party.

I'd guess it has to do with money and corruption. A pair of problems it would appear that the Republicans have no patent on.

This guy needs a primary challenge if for no other reason than to keep him busy defending his seat instead of making bad decision after bad decision on party strategy.

Peace, Health and Prosperity for Everyone.

[ Parent ]
Emmanuel isnt dumb... (0.00 / 0)
...but he is determined to hold and retain power.

No matter what.

[ Parent ]
Emanuel is providing in-kind campaign assistance to Republicans (0.00 / 0)
Numbers USA, one of the leading anti-immigrant sites, is circulating the article and his remarks to validate their strategy.
That aside, trying to be anti-immigrant light is a losing strategy, unless you are willing to beat the Republicans at this game -- and i sure hope that is not where this downward spiral takes us.
But it is short-sighted -- it will create a trap for Dems because they will corner themselves into voting for measures that align with their "fudged positioning."
And for those who want to make this about legality, let us not ignore that the anti-immigrant environment has provided an opening for an anti-Latino environment.  The Latino community is definitely feeling the heat -- regardless of immigration status, citizen and non-citizen alike.
Although that is not the intention of many who are ambivalent about immigration, we do have to face the consequences and examine how we deal with this debate -- because it is definitely having detrimental effects. Just ask the neighbors in Virginia who found KKK leaflets at their doorsteps.


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