The LA Times reports that Republican lawmakers have called on the Obama administration to return to the Bush-era practice of sending jackbooted thugs into private workplaces to arrest illegal aliens — revealing (as if we didn’t already know) that virulent xenophobia is alive and well in the Republican party. (Note well the hypocrisy of complaining that foreigners sneak into our country to take advantage of the welfare system, and then addressing the problem by focusing your deportation efforts on foreigners who have obviously come here to work).
The same Times article observes that even without the workplace raids, deportations have reached new heights for two years running at the direction of President Barack Obama — revealing (as if we didn’t already know) that virulent xenophobia is alive and well in the Democratic party too. This is, after all, the same Barack Obama who said in his acceptance speech at the 2008 convention that nobody benefits when an employer undercuts American wages by hiring illegal workers. Well, sure. Nobody, that is, except the employer, his customers, and the illegal workers who, in Barack Obama’s universe, count as “nobody”.
This raises the idle question: Which political party harbors more xenophobia? I have no careful documentation of this, but my impression in the 2008 election was that the Democrat John Edwards was the most despicable of the candidates in this dimension, with the Republican Mitt Romney running a somewhat distant but still unchallenged second. Going back to 2004, it was the Democrat John Kerry who called for federal contracts, whenever possible, to be performed by American workers, demanded tax incentives for firms that hired Americans instead of foreigners, and endorsed legislation encouraging consumers to “buy American”. (If that doesn’t strike you as virulent, ask yourself how you’d feel about a candidate who called for federal contracts, whenever possible, to be performed by white workers, demanded tax incentives for firms that hired whites instead of blacks, and endorsed legislation encouraging consumers to “buy White”.) But it was the Republican victor, George Bush, who followed in his Republican father’s footsteps by dispatching those jackbooted thugs who evoke such nostalgia in Republican leaders of today.
I always had the impression that Bush’s heart was actually in the right place, ever since that day in the year 2000 when, while campaiging for the South Carolina primary, he squelched a heckler with the firm observation that “family values don’t stop at the Rio Grande”. There was no obvious political advantage in it, and it seemed to come from the heart. But Bush, like anyone else, should be judged by his policies, not by his sentiments.
In the most recent election, we saw the execrable Republican Meg Whitman call for the banishment of the woman who she’d seen fit to employ in her home for several years, solely because this woman had been born on the wrong side of an imaginary line. I can’t offhand think of anything quite comparable from a Democrat in 2010, but I bet a little research would turn something up.
On balance, which party is worse? My gut feeling is that the Democrats — the party of Edwards, Kerry and Obama — win this shameful prize, but it’s close, and I could easily be convinced otherwise.