KausFiles

Charge of the Latino Brigade

Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result: A few days ago I wondered whether President Obama, faced with knowledge that his immigrant legalization plan now has no chance of passing, would

a) recognize that [his] political strategy for winning Latino votes has hit a dead end; or b) organize another White House conference!

We now know the answer. … I’m searching for the right metaphor for the absurd political strategy Obama is pursuing. Is it performance art? Camusian heroism? Pickett’s Charge? The Charge of the Light Brigade? He’s asking Latino leaders and voters to join him for one more futile straightahead push, knowing that it’s futile and knowing they know it’s futile. And he expects them to reward him for it. …

True, it’s not Obama’s fault that amnesty is dead. The way to get amnesty (as Lawrence O’Donnell once pointed out to me) has been clear for years: gain support for legalizing the current wave of illegal immigrants by demonstrating that you can and will prevent the next wave of illegal immigrants. The reason Latino leaders won’t take this deal is equally obvious: they don’t want to prevent the next wave of illegal immigrants–at least of Latino illegal immigrants. If they did, they’d have their amnesty by now.

That’s their fault. But a President who was a leader would move them off their head-meets-brick-wall position. (He could even appeal to the same ethnic sentiments that drive the immigration debate on the ground: Let’s help the Mexican economy prosper. Let’s increase the quote of legal Mexican and Latin American immigrants, and welcome them–but also do what it takes to block and deter illegals.) Instead the White House’s plodding, by-the-numbers Latino strategy–meetings and more meetings to say the same things that haven’t worked before and hope that rouses the ethnic vote one more time–is itself all the proof you need that the immigration issue is still on the backburner. If it wasn’t, someone in the adminstration with a bit of imagination might give it some thought. …

P.S.: The latest big Pew survey has identified a group of mainly blue-collar, white and black “hard pressed Democrats”–about 15% of the electorate–who are deeply skeptical of the benefits of immigration. Why do these Democrats tell pollsters that immigrants are a burden because they “take our jobs”? Maybe because they do. Just a thought! (If journalists were trying to make a living in 2011 as unskilled workers, the CW on immigration might look very different.)   …

P.P.S.: Is it reasonable for Obama to dangle in front of Latinos the prospect of an immigration amnesty even in the next Congress? Is there a plausible political scenario in which the next Senate is more receptive to legalization than the Senate of 2008-2010? Or is this the political equivalent of malpractice? …