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.