Thursday, April 06, 2006


Yesterday in D.C. all the talk, despite our group's best efforts, was on immigration. As he spoke on the Senate floor, Dick Durbin's office phones were ringing off the hook with people who were, to judge by the reaction of the receptionist, quite virulently opposed to any form of citizenship or amnesty for anyone who had entered and stayed in the United States illegally.

I have a prediction about this: Nothing will happen. We've been discussing the issue for weeks in my class on public opinion and propaganda, and I've arrived at a conclusion: This whole debate is for show. And when it all ends up being for naught, Republicans will be quite pleased.

Why? They brought it up, didn't they?

Well, yes, but it's served its purpose now. It distracted the nation from the war in Iraq, taking up valuable front-page real estate in a time when that country's prospects for peace have dimmed. And it allowed various messages to seep out to different G.O.P. audiences. Republican House members get to run in their carefully-drawn conservative districts on a bill that appeals to their biggest base of voters because it presents a simple(-minded) solution to a complicated problem. Meanwhile, Republican Senators can run their statewide campaigns claiming that their bill showed more compassion. And the entire party can breathe more easily knowing that it has put off, for now, having to upset the big businesses that provide its financial lifeblood on the backs of the very immigrants the bill would have eventually provided rights and better wages.

It's been fun, hasn't it? The Republicans have managed to make the last two months or so of public debate all about peripheral issues like port security being run by Arabs and whether we should build a giant fence to keep out Mexicans and put the ones already here on buses. If you think they haven't known what they were doing, though, think again.

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