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Does it take balls to become a demagogue using immigration as a way to rise to power?
Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin went on attack on Fox News Sunday, stating that Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer has the balls that Obama does not in order to “secure the border” — now a GOP euphemism for doing nothing on immigration reform.
President Obama reacted calmly to the accusation. “I understand the frustration of people in Arizona. But what we can’t do is demagogue the issue,” he said in an interview with CBS “Early Show” co-anchor Harry Smith. “And what we can’t do is allow a patchwork of 50 different states, or cities or localities, where anybody who wants to make a name for themselves suddenly says, ‘I’m gonna be anti-immigrant and I’m gonna try to see if I can solve the problem myself.”
Political analysis tells us that successful demagoguery is predicated upon certain conditions. For a demagogue to rise to power and exploit a certain issue for political gain, s/he requires a certain level of impassioned rhetoric and propaganda to become the dominant narrative. “Illegal immigrants are stealing our jobs and ruining our economy” and “we must secure the border” are the dominant narratives right now, propelled by the rough economic times. The problem for immigration reform advocates is that neither politicians nor the mainstream media is doing anything to quell that narrative.
President Obama has little issue with slurring undocumented immigrants as “illegal immigrants” and adopting a tough framework that criminalizes immigrants. Border security spending and deportation numbers have actually skyrocketed under the Obama Administration. The “champion” of comprehensive immigration reform, Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), actually insists on the label of “illegal aliens” as a prerequisite to advancing any sort of reform. After buying and selling a narrative that demonizes undocumented immigrants (and Latinos), it is hardly shocking that we have demagogues who use the issue as a way to wield power and prestige.
A power vacuum or lack of leadership is another factor that is important for demagoguery. While we don’t need demagoguery from the likes of Governor Brewer and Sheriff Joe Arpaio, we do need leadership from Congress and the President. The Democrats are yet to provide us with any because they lack a moral compass when it comes to immigration and do not see it as a winning issue for them. With the election of the first black President of the United States, the GOP has done an about turn from the party of “compassionate conservatives” and pro-business elites to becoming the party of Tea Party racists.
If Obama wants politicians to stop acting like immigration demagogues, maybe he should start by setting an example. Heck, it is something that even anti-immigrant conservative blogger Michelle Malkin can agree on.