Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Party Unity My Ass, or my plea to Hillary's supporters

So Hillary Clinton addressed the Democratic National Convention last night and stated her support for Barack Obama. She stated her belief that in order to prevail in the general election in November, we must unite as a party. It's a pretty simple message, and it's hard to deny her logic.

Ever since Hillary dropped out and Obama became the presumptive Democratic nominee, there have been rumblings. Those committed to Hillary's campaign found themselves in a tight spot. Most of the Democratic primary process was focused on choosing between the two. All others dropped away, leaving Democrats with those two.

For my own part, I was not in either one's camp in the beginning. I was not an Obama guy or a Hillary guy when this started. I liked Biden (and I'm delighted he's the VP candidate) in the beginning. But then he dropped out early, and I went for Richardson. I picked Richardson mostly for his experience with foreign relations. But then Richardson figured out he wasn't going to get the nomination, and he dropped out.

My point here is that with each candidate, there were supporters. Those supporters, for one reason or another, felt their candidate was the best pick. And when those candidates bowed out, they left their supporters looking for the second best pick. Many of us, whose first (and second, and third) choice didn't win have had to trade out loyalties several times. It's clear to me, as someone who has bounced from one candidate to another in the primary process, that the bottom line is to get a Democrat, ANY Democrat in the White House.

We Democrats have seen the damage inflicted on this country by George W. Bush. And if there was a candidate on the Republican side who was willing to admit that Bush had been bad for our country, if there was one single Republican candidate who had the courage to distance himself and commit to reversing Bush's course, I might have considered voting for him (or her). I'm not saying I would have, but it would have impressed the hell out of me to see someone willing to break ranks.

What Hillary's supporters need to keep in mind is this: easily 95% of the positions Hillary takes on the issue are mirrored by Obama. John McCain's voting records mirrors George W. Bush's 90% of the time. If a person supported Hillary Clinton because of her policies, it's not to late to see those policies win. And Hillary isn't going anywhere. She's still a Senator from New York, and she'll continue pushing her ideals through, whether Barack Obama wins in November or not. They also need to understand that without support from Hillary's people, Obama will lose - it's that simple. And if that happens, it means another four years of deficit spending, another four years of pointless war in Iraq, it means going to war with Iran in all likelihood, it means four more years of how things have been. I, for one, shudder.

We need to get a Democrat in the White House, for the good of the nation and the good of the world. We need to have someone who embraces the principles of the Democratic Party in a position to reverse the course that George W. Bush has set our nation on. We need to rebuild our infrastructure as well as our standing on the world's stage and we need a Democrat in the Oval Office to make that a reality.

If someone supported Hillary because she is a woman, and now won't support Barack Obama, then that person is, by definition, a sexist. There, I said it. And yes, women came be sexists just like men. When you decide to choose someone for a job based solely on their gender, that is sexist.

Hillary did not deserve to be in the running because she is a woman, or because of her last name. She deserved to be in the running because she was qualified and she would have made a good Democratic President. And like Obama or not, he is the nominee. And now the job is up to us Democrats to vote him into office. And we can still support Hillary Clinton. We can be proud that she got as far as she did. We can hope that if elected Obama may appoint her to a cabinet position. If all else fails, she is still the Senator from the great state of New York, and she will work with President Obama and no doubt advise him on many issues.

Maybe Hillary will run in 2012 if Obama loses. Maybe she'll succeed him in 2016. Maybe she will become the Senate Majority leader. No one is counting her out yet. But we are now in the phase of the political process where we vote for the President, and Hillary isn't an option. Please know that Hillary would not want John McCain in the White House, and if you call yourself a Democrat, I can't imagine why you wouldn't do everything in your power to keep him out as well.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

English is the New White

The "english as our official language" crowd has been rattling their sabres lately. Let me boil this down:

The idea here seems to be that if you speak english, you are "better" than those who don't. You should not be made to wait in line behind someone who only speaks spanish. The inference here is that english is the "better" language, or that people who speak english are "better" people, more deserving for prompt service. Pressing "1" for english is offensive, they tell us. Imagine if they had to press "1" for spanish and "2" for english? Oh, the outrage! Who do those spanish-speakers think they are, acting so uppity?

They will use, as a rationale, the fact that more people in this country speak english. And since we are a democracy, and majority rules, those people who speak spanish are therefore "second-class", and should have no special treatment. Don't speak english? Too bad. Either they learn english like us "first class" people, or they shouldn't be allowed to vote, drive, get jobs, eat in restaurants, open bank accounts, rent property, own a home, send their kids to school, get medical care, etc.

The idea is offensive, they will say, to see any kind of print in spanish. Instructions on a voting ballot, for instance. Never mind that there's instructions in english. Never mind that the english instructions come first, and the spanish ones second. Never mind that no one has suggested removing the english language instructions, only that they make room for instructions in spanish as well. It's still offensive, we're told.

They seem to see spanish-speaking people as some kind of a threat, like they're a cult that's going to brainwash our kids when we're not looking. We get fed statistics of crime, shutting down emergency rooms, rape and murder, and we good white people are supposed to circle the wagons and protect ourselves from the invasion of these unwashed savages. We're told that spanish-speaking people are up to no good, and should not be trusted.

And of course, they raise the spectre of illegal immigration. They tell us that pandering to the spanish-speaking people (in other words, treating them like human beings) is going to encourage illegal immigration. Never mind that most if not all of these folks shop at Wal-Mart, one of the biggest offenders, hiring more illegal aliens than anyone else. They don't mind the spanish-speakers mowing our lawns and washing our cars like the good little peasants they are, but the minute they try to speak to us in spanish, look out. Now they've gone too far. Spanish speaking people want a living wage? Why, who do they think they are?

They tell us that we need to declare english as our national language, and thereby justify further mistreatment of those non-english speaking riffraff. They want other laws changed as well, to protect their "way of life", even though their way of life is not under attack by anybody. (Unless, by "way of life" you mean systematic and legal discrimination.) They want us to help them maintain their time-honored status of superiority by virtue of language. They want us to think of spanish speaking people as inferior. They create a crisis wher none exists, to scare us into passing laws to maintain their status quo.

But they're not racists - heavens no! This isn't a race issue, they assure us. It's a heritage issue. Just like slavery was a heritage issue. Just like "colored-only" swimming pools, lunch counters and water fountains were about "preserving our heritage". Of course they're not racists. Just because they automatically assume anyone who speaks spanish is an illegal alien doesn't make them racists, does it?

Surely not.

Friday, August 8, 2008


Right now Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, and other major U.S. cities have two things in common: booming economies and high numbers of illegal immigrants. The problem is, many people living in these cities and doing business in these cites have a problem with the "sanctuary city" policies. They continue to do their part to contribute to the economies, despite their objections to their cities' policies.

In the meantime, the federal and local governments can butt heads and tie up the courts trying to prove each other's side wrong. It's all election year posturing and campaign rhetoric, and nothing actually gets accomplished. They use the issue to get people angry enough to vote against one side, and after the election peoples' tempers cool and the issue is largely forgotten until the next election.

I've confessed in a previous post to being a Craig's List addict, and in the past few days the topic of "sanctuary cities" has become THE hot topic. In my browsing the conservative talk radio rants, it seems the hosts on these programs all but froth at the mouth over it. They attack the mayors, the city councils, even the police for not hunting down every last illegal immigrant and deporting them. As I listen to the radio hosts and read the Craig's List posts, I wonder - do these people actually LIVE in a "sanctuary city"? It seems most of them do. Which begs the question: why do they stay? I mean if they're really that fed up, and if there are other cities that don't have these policies, what's stopping these people from going there?

You might think it heartless of me to suggest they pack up and go, but I would remind you, Gentle Reader, of the Conservatives' own slogan: "America - love it or leave it". We've been told on countless occasions that if we latte-swilling liberals hate our country so much, then we should just leave. Go to France, we're told, go to Canada, go somewhere else if you can't appreciate your country. I'm not suggesting anyone expatriate. I am suggesting that while living within the borders of America, a person has the choice of thousands of towns and cities, all with a variety of policies towards immigrants. You can find a town or city whose policies more clearly match your own convictions, and head there.

So with all that in mind, I say it's time for an experiment. Moreover, it's time for people to put some action behind their words and live out their convictions. But most of all, it's time to settle the question: are we, as a society, suffering or benefiting from the presence of illegal immigrants, and from policies that systematically tolerate their presence? It has been show time and time again that one of the most effective ways of getting policies changed is to cut off all financial support from the offending parties until they amend their practices. In other words, a boycott.

So here's how this works - everyone who is opposed to sanctuary cities leaves those cities. They move out, they relocate their families, their businesses, their lives to places with no sanctuary city policies. Then they stay gone for five years. Those of you that have no problem with living in a so-called sanctuary city can stay put.Those that leave, don't do business with anyone who works or lives in a sanctuary city, or anyone who does. Boycott all products and services based in sanctuary cities. Don't send your kids to college in any sanctuary cities. They live their lives, they get their goods and services elsewhere, they do their best to isolate these cities and let them fend for themselves economically, and in all other ways.

After five years, we'll compare the economic state of the sanctuary city residents' economic situation to those living elsewhere. We'll compare average incomes, crime rates, tax rates, education, health, pollution, suicide rates, infant mortality rates, unemployment rates, welfare statistics, and general quality of life. We'll do a side-by-side comparison between sanctuary cities and non-sanctuary cities, in every way that quality of life can be measured. If the quality of life measures out to be overall better in the sanctuary cities, then we will resolve no laws be made to interfere with those policies, as they would clearly be shown to be in the city's best interests. If the quality of life in sanctuary cities is worse, that can use that as a basis for outlawing sanctuary city policies and ridding it of all illegals by any means necessary.

The bottom line is this: if you want to do away with sanctuary city policies, you must first establish that it's in the public's best interest. You must prove beyond a doubt that people's lives would be better without the existence of sanctuary city policies. Because as long as there are people who believe that we as a society benefit from these policies, they will never go away. If you want to PROVE beyond any shadow of doubt that sanctuary cities are a bad idea, in my opinion this is the best way to do it.

You'll notice that I'm not taking a side here. I'm only interested in what's best. And until we can conclusively prove one side right and other side wrong, all we have is a difference of opinion - different conclusions drawn from the same set of facts. Whether you support sanctuary city policies or not, you want to see your point of view validated, proven true, and used as the basis for legislation. I respectfully submit that there is no other way I can think of to prove the point.

Of course, I am a confessed liberal, and I think that the anti-illegal mentality largely fomented by our friends on the right wing speak to their need to vilify a group and focus their hatred into xenophobia. I think they hate Mexicans, and they want it to be not only legal to stick it to all Spanish-speaking people, but they want it deemed patriotic. Hence, all the chest-thumping over these sanctuary cities.

For my part, I live in a sanctuary city and it doesn't bother me one bit. I know most of the people in this city are from somewhere else. Heck, I'm from somewhere else - it just happens that my "somewhere else" is here in the United States. But I came here to this city for the economy and a chance at a better life, at least financially, and I got my wish. So I can't bring myself to begrudge those people who have done the same, even if their "somewhere else" wasn't in this country.

And in my dealings with government, and after witnessing the colossally inept bureaucracy with which they address their affairs, I have to wonder: how many of these so-called "illegal immigrants" are only illegal because our government accepts mediocre work from its own employees? If the policies handed down from Congress addressed the issue of immigration with the same enthusiasm the immigrants demonstrate in their high-risk border crossings, how many "illegals" would we have? If the people responsible for processing the paperwork from these would-be citizens worked as hard as the Mexicans busing tables and washing cars in this city, I have to wonder: would we have fewer illegals?