Thursday, June 28, 2007

End of a narrative

The Democratic Strategist describes the collapse of the immigration bill, which it regards as an unmitigated disaster in tones bordering on panic.


The margin was pretty stunning: 46-53, or fourteen votes shy of the 60 necessary to cut off debate. And even though (annoyingly) the Post article linked to above suggested the bill was killed off by attacks "from the left and right," it's clearly GOP support that collapsed. Democrats (including their leader, Harry Reid) supported cloture 33-15, while Republicans (including their leader Mitch McConnell) opposed it 37-12; the two independent split, with Lieberman voting for cloture and Sanders against it. All the Democratic presidential candidates in the Senate (Biden, Clinton, Dodd, Obama) voted for cloture, along with 2004 nominee Kerry. With Sam Brownback, an earlier supporter of the "grand bargain," voting "nay," John McCain stands alone, more than ever, in the Republican presidential field.

... it's clear the Senate's done for the time being. But the issue is obviously not going away. Even as they high-five each other for killing "the amnesty bill," conservative pundits and activists are already talking about next steps towards an "enforcement first" policy (check out the ongoing discussion at National Review's The Corner for details). And newly emboldened by their Senate victory, anti-immigration conservatives are not likely to be satisfied with fences or border control money or other such amelioratives. If not in the Senate or House, then in the right-wing blogs and on talk radio, we will soon see an effort to make mass arrests and deportations, along with big-time employer sanctions, a limus test for Republican candidates for president and for Congress in 2008. What Democrats do about all this, other than standing back and watching the carnage, is an open and important question.

What's striking about the piece is that it asks nearly all of the wrong questions. The major correct question to ask is how a bill with so much lobbying and political muscle behind it could so abjectly fail? The most probable answer is that the narrative behind amnesty and open borders has died. Somewhere in the last few years, the idea behind it became fundamentally so repulsive to such a large number of people that the bill, like the Zepplin which outstayed its time, would despite efforts to lighten this or strengthen that, remain on the ground for so long as it retained the kernel of the narrative. The Democratic Strategist is correct is saying that the "immigration bill" is not dead. But it really has a new name and core narrative: regaining the sovereignty of the borders: they can't think it -- yet.

24 Comments:

Blogger whiskey_199 said...

Wretchard -- what this is (the death of Amnesty and Open Borders) really amounts to the beginnings of the populist, Jacksonian backlash.

Bill Clinton and Al Gore promised no "giant sucking sound" of loss of jobs and sovereignty, and yet that is exactly what has happened. And this time Perot is not a wealthy nut but Fred Thompson, an experience communicator and professional pol.

The elites told the American public to shut up, and the American Public pushed back. Made their points known. Forced the issue.

Democrats ought to be terrified. They have put themselves out backing anti-Sovereignty, anti-Nationalist, anti-American, pro-Mexican, identity politics, and anti-Average American policies and politics that it will destroy them if the populist wave continues.

As others have noted, all our institutions have failed in the War on Terror (or perhaps Globalization which might be considered a different aspect of the same thing). The Media, Academia, the Democratic Party, The Republican Party (incumbents anyway), and the pundit/elite class along with Hollywood.

What stands out is a huge disdain for the working/middle class the elites have, and how much it's returned. One telling stat: men have pretty much abandoned Network TV except for Pro and College Football.

We are a nation divided by identity politics, and every group except the average person has an identity group. So naturally Joe and Jane Average will start their own. It will likely be a variant of Angry Jacksonian identity politics. I detect a purging of the Republican Party of elitists for populists and very likely a sea change in politics.

Among the implications: rubble does not cause trouble. No more "why do they hate us" and very likely pre-emptive strikes on a nuclear scale of suspected enemies. Without the Pottery Barn rule.

6/28/2007 03:39:00 PM  
Blogger hdgreene said...

Last October the President was dragged into supporting the border fence by his base. After the election he dropped it but continued to push "reform." And I thought, "gee, he just told the rank and file to go dunk their heads--he'll do it with the Democrats." It didn't seem like smart politics to me (and I never thought GWB was dumb). I think the DC elites loathed the fence. Nice people don't build fences. And a neglected fence gathers holes--visible proof of the neglect. In this case, the neglect of the border.

I think he "gave the fence" to Ted Kennedy and in that act lost immigration reform.

I listened to Rush on this last week. I have to score one for him and the rest of Talk Radio. They were rad.

6/28/2007 03:46:00 PM  
Blogger John Lynch said...

We're seeing what a genuine popular movement looks like. There's no astroturf, no steet protests, no sign- waving. There are millions of angry letters, millions of dollars not being donated, and millions of people being energized (or radicalized) by this issue.

It's a bus. Get on or get out of the way.

6/28/2007 03:50:00 PM  
Blogger buck smith said...

No "giant sucking sound" of loss of jobs and sovereignty, and yet that is exactly what has happened!

Dude, unemployment is under 5%! NAFTA has not hurt the American economy, it has helped. Look at the profits Wal-Mart of Mexico is making while improving the standard of living in Mexico.

Having said that, I hope that this is the start of a more agressive stance in the WoT, but fences on the border are such a minor a part of the problem.

6/28/2007 04:01:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

The most probable answer is that the narrative behind amnesty and open borders has died.

The damned thing failed because we TOLD them that if they voted it in, we would vote *all* of them out at the very first opportunity. We told them that and told them that -- if you do this you will lose your job. And your power. And all your perks.

Dammit.

They heard us the first time it went down, and they *really* heard us this time ... enough to throw Bush under the bus, as well as Big Business and the unions.

I think people were also starting to get creative with coming up with new resistance ideas in addition to voting the SOBs out. I've seen a march of enraged peasants carrying pitchforks and burning torches on DC mentioned on several different blogs, for a start.

This is the third time now that an enraged populace has backed Bush down. We won't let anyone else in the world treat him like that, but it's sure fun when we get the bit between our teeth and bolt out of his or anyone else's control.

6/28/2007 04:33:00 PM  
Blogger Brett said...

Bush has lost half of his ardent supporters (or more) by his poor leadership in ME politics, botching nation building, expansive bureaucracy, and giving the rest of us the middle finger on border enforcement. I thought he set back conservative politics by ten years or more but may soon credit him for reinvigorating conservatives with a cause that they would rally behind. Moreover, to give “compassionate conservatism” and Mr. Bush an unflinching heave ho.

6/28/2007 05:04:00 PM  
Blogger whiskey_199 said...

Buck -- real wage growth has not just stagnated, but fallen behind.

Men in their 30's have less real inflation adjusted income than men in their 30's did in the 1970's.

Why do you think the anger behind Amnesty/Open Borders was driven mostly by working class and middle class people?

The 1990's to present has been:

Jobs, particularly skilled jobs, have been moved to China, India, and Mexico. This includes engineering jobs, and machining/assembly/manufacturing jobs.

Constant downward wage pressures from H1-B visas and illegal immigrants.

Loss of sovereignty and identity politics of La Raza, the message of exclusion to Whites.

This is the story of the last 15 years or so. No, people are not happy. The elites have done very well, and have expressed their disdain and hatred for the average person.

In turn the average person loathes and hates the elites. They consider the elites to be about the level of Paris Hilton or Vince McMahon.

6/28/2007 06:40:00 PM  
Blogger buck smith said...

Here's a graph of inflations adjsuited income. I have a hard time beleiving non-illegal immigrant men int their 30 are in the lowest quintile.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:United_States_Income_Distribution_1967-2003.svg

6/28/2007 07:23:00 PM  
Blogger whiskey_199 said...

Buck, the wikipedia entry is bunk.

See CNN Money Link .

"Relying on Census Bureau figures, the study's authors found that after adjusting for inflation, men in their 30s in 2004 had a median income of about $35,000 per year, for a 12 percent drop compared with $40,000 per year for men in the same age group in 1974.

That stood in stark contrast to men in their 30s in 1994, who earned 5 percent more than their fathers did.

Similarly, American families, which experienced a 32 percent increase in income levels between 1964 and 1994, saw household income growth slow to 9 percent between 1974 and 2004, according to the report."

Let's see, barely 5% growth over 20 years (likely the start of the internet boom), and a 12% DROP over thirty years?

Buck if you want to understand the anger behind public sentiment, look at the wage drop and loss of income.

In the 1970's, the average white collar working man, could afford a house and a family. Now, he's hard pressed to, ESPECIALLY in nice places to live: California, Florida, the Pacific Northwest, etc.

What Globalization has done is to make Indian and Chinese men more wealthy (from absolute poverty) and few connected tycoons there fabulously wealthy beyond Bill Gate's dreams, and the average American man poorer. Not only is he not richer than his father, for the first time since the Great Depression, he's POORER than his father. So much so that his ability to marry and have kids is affected.

It's the movie "Falling Down" and most American workers understand this very well.

If you are a connected elite who made a lot of money off the internet bubble, well you're set. But for the rest, it's not so.

6/28/2007 08:04:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

whiskey_199,

I don't think a physical fence, however effective, will completely stop the relative slide. Better border security will help keep criminals out and prevent a physical influx of masses of undesirables, but many jobs will continue to leak out through outsourcing and offshore production.

If the world economic system functioned efficiently the absolute levels of income could rise everywhere, even though the relative levels between countries might close. But it does not function efficiently and I suspect there are lot of barons in the Third and First World who are making astronomical fortunes from the asymmetries today.

6/28/2007 08:34:00 PM  
Blogger Fat Man said...

The MSM has the story wrong. the truth is that the both parties are deeply split on this issue. The R split is between the business community and the conservatives. The D's are split also neither Labor nor the Black caucus had any enthusiasm for the bill.

Guys like Kennedy and Kerry have been in the Senate so long that they no longer receive signals from planet earth.

The defeat was helped along by some truly inept management from Pinky Reid, who is setting new marks for Senatorial fecklessness.

6/28/2007 09:22:00 PM  
Blogger whiskey_199 said...

Wretchard -- agreed that a border fence is not a panacea, but part of that dynamic (populist revolt) has been that the average person loses not gains from globalization. Certainly a border fence would stop the massive inflows of Mexican nationals seeking work. About 40% or roughly 40 million want to move to the US. Something the Social Welfare system simply cannot support.

Social Welfare spending is only politically possible in relatively homogeneous, culturally unified nations, with high-trust networks and low corruption. See "Bowling Alone" and so on (diversity increases distrust and civic participation).

But the larger point is that like the French Revolution (generations of rising income followed by sudden declines) we see in the US (and very likely in the West) the average joe get screwed over economically, socially, politically, and culturally, to the point where you get variations of the populist revolt.

Why did the Danes burn Mohammed in Effigy? Because they are either racist yahoos or possessed of Horatio at the Bridge courage? I would suggest neither merely fed up with the whole liberal project of which PC and Multiculturalism and Diversity are part of. Also globalization, outsourcing, off-shoring, loss of national sovereignty, identity politics, consumerism, materialism, and so on.

What does it matter if DVD players are cheap, or there are hundreds of cable channels, or computers cost very little? If men can't afford to buy a house and raise a family?

We've seen how frustration affects the Muslim world, but very likely we also have much of the same factors here. I don't think we'll see people thrown off buildings (I pray not) but I do think all these institutions:

The Media.
The Democratic Party.
The RINO Republican Establishment.
The Hollywood elite.
The Academy.

Will be overthrown and a Jacksonian revolution will at least be attempted.

Senate insiders were totally unprepared for the deluge of calls, faxes, and e-mails. The Capitol Phone system went down under the deluge of calls. Obviously something deeply significant happened.

6/28/2007 09:41:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

I don't think a physical fence, however effective, will completely stop the relative slide.

No, of course the fence won't keep them all out. But it will be a HUGE physical symbol that we are really Really REALLY serious when we say, "We don't want you - stay out."

Right now, most humans on the face of the planet are operating that they have an innate RIGHT to come to America, every bit as much as they have a RIGHT to water, food and air.

No. They don't. They have to earn the right to come to America, and I want a fence that is visible from space so that every time someone sees a picture of the United States that boundary is there and obvious.

Coming to America is serious business, and you have to MEAN it. You can't be coming here and then be sending money "back home"; you can't be coming here and not learning English; you can't be coming here and not paying taxes; you can't be coming here and dragging along your tribal hatreds with you.

Right now, it's just too dadblamed easy to look at a map and dream about coming to America. I want a physical symbol that shows the rest of the world that coming to America is harder than drinking a glass of water or gasping a breath of air.

6/28/2007 10:31:00 PM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

What happens when in 5 years it's a 30 million problem, a 50 million problem in 10 years, then what?

When will it be that being an American mean you mean serious business, and for starters, Jon Stewart and his Club of Hollywood Comedians find just how serious life can be.

6/28/2007 11:22:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

I said in the last Presidential election, that if a candidate had just grabbed immigration and made it THE number one priority for himself, he would win. No one, either Democrat or Republican, would do that.

I said then, and I'll say again, the candidate who solemnly promises to build me a fence gets my vote. I pretty much don't care about any of his other positions, if he'll push through the fence.

I'm thinking from the outpouring of rage over the recent unlamented stupid legislation I may not be alone in that mindset now, so MAYBE one of the parties or one of the many candidates for the 2008 election will make immigration and building the fence a priority. Because I don't think Bush nor any of the current Senators is gonna do it.

6/29/2007 06:40:00 AM  
Blogger dchamil said...

Nations have traditionally defended their borders with whatever deadly force is necessary. If we get serious, we will have to do the same. This will raise the ante for those who want to cross illegally.

6/29/2007 08:53:00 AM  
Blogger Alison said...

Agree with whiskey 199 on the doleful effects of open borders and globalization. There are pockets of America that are facing economic desolation (rust belt heavy industry towns,Appalachian textile towns, etc.) But all manufacturing is under assault from the Third World. I saw this firsthand in the custom woodworking industry. Over 20 years, nearly all products were imported including shipping raw materials to Asia and finished products back.
Pundits love the buggy whip analogy for obsolete technologies, but that is a facile explanation because the rise of working class prosperity in the twentieth century was utterly dependent on decent paying manufacturing jobs. The elites here want to level the playing field by stripping American wages and benefits while investing in production abroad.It's a short sighted greed motivated plan and the people are feeling it.
I recently returned to Arizona after nearly 20 years in the southeast. There is a heavy illegal presence in the South, but while unassimilated it's a quiet population, but here in Tucson you feel the tremors at ground zero. There is a lawlessness here and a huge spike in violence since I was last here. The Senate responded in fear to their constituents, but their obliviousness to reality and their bending over for corporate interests is frightening.

6/29/2007 10:49:00 AM  
Blogger Dewage said...

The horrible tragedy of "the immigration issue," has been deliberately mischaracterized by the U.S. government for political cover. In fact, the immigration issue is Mexico's fault.

1) It should be called the "Mexican Disapora"

2) Mexico should be characterized as a failed state, unable to support it's own people.

3) Illegal Mexican immigrants should be classified by they U.S. governemtn as "economic refugees" and treated accordingly.

The solution to illegal immigration from Mexico, is to fix Mexico. In fact, that should be the name of the name of the ex parti lobby of the Minutemen: "Fijemos Mexico!".

Border fences, ID cards, visas and workplace sanctions only advance authoritarianism in THIS country and do NOTHING to address the source of the problem.

6/29/2007 12:30:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

...do NOTHING to address the source of the problem.

Would that be the same thing as "fixing the root causes" beloved by our Muslim brethren?

6/29/2007 12:37:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

If you are interested, dewage, there is a three step process to understanding the course the US is on, vis a vie the 31 United States of Mexico and its intwined relationship with the US.

It begins with a social and cultural experiment begun by the Rockefeller Family in 1946 and culminating in a live, multi-year experiment in Italy in 1957. Described here the Rockefeller action arm for the experiment was a company called IBEC.

Basicly they modified Italian culture through mass market consumerism.

The Institutionalized Revolution, which ruled the United Mexican States for 72 years did institutionalize poverty, there. It has only been 6 years since they were deposed, but are sill a signifigant power in Mexico.

Wal-Mart, the USAs largest employeer and market maker entered the Central American marketplace in 1991 and now enployees over 140,000 in Mexico and another 40,000 in the balance of Central America, see here.

If one looks to the US energy use, and its sources, one finds the United Mexican States to be the first or second oil provider to US, month after month, year after year. An unstable Mexico is not desired by US. Instability is what we'd have if the $$ Billlions USD in remittances to Mexico from their workers in US were stopped.

US interests are in a headlong race to consumerize and thusly modify Mexican society, with the full support of the PAN, but the PAN while maintaining the Presidency still is a mnority political party in Mexico, the PRI and the hard left together could form a majority.

If the consumerization of Mexico were to fail, if the remittances were to end, revolution would be on the event horizon. Hugo, Fidel and Daniel guarentee that. The loss of the Mexican oil supplies, which would result from the chaos of evolution would economicly cripple the US.

Not much discussed, but there you have it. The battle for the soul of Mexico is under way, just not talked about.

6/29/2007 01:54:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Oil production and import data here

Mexico providing more oil to US than the Sauds, just a bit less than the Canuks.
Year to date, thousands of barrels per day
Canada supplied 1,846
Mexican States supplied 1,471
while the Sauds log in at 1,358.

Hugo supplies US with 1,070

That, amigos, explains the why we kow tow to Mexico, while trying to modify their culture and behaviours through market consumerism.

If there was another Mexican Revolution, the refugees would just not be economic.

6/29/2007 02:08:00 PM  
Blogger Dewage said...

Dewage said...
...do NOTHING to address the source of the problem.

NahnCee said...
Would that be the same thing as "fixing the root causes" beloved by our Muslim brethren?


If that means fixing Mexico's economy, sure! Although I never thought of the Islamists as being altruistic before...

But I guess Israel would have to suddenly discover it was sitting on a large oil field to test that hypothesis...

6/29/2007 08:13:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

I'm not interested in fixing Muslim "root causes".

I am interested in nuking the evil little SOBs because once Muslims go away, so do their root causes.

And I'm not at all sure how Israel got dragged kicking and screaming into the discussion out of left field. Other than it might be French Debating Tactic Number Three: "when stuck, change the subject".

Or maybe it's just anti-Semitism which is always the obvious choice, but never occurs to me until I come to a screeching halt, think about it for a minute, and then think, "a-ha!"

6/30/2007 10:08:00 AM  
Blogger Dewage said...

Nahncee said
And I'm not at all sure how Israel got dragged kicking and screaming into the discussion out of left field. Other than it might be French Debating Tactic Number Three: "when stuck, change the subject".


Maybe I didn't connect the dots well enough, or maybe I just stretched out the analogy too far. IMHO, the 'root causes' of the Mexican problem is the collapse of its Marxist-style socialism. That Marxist-Socialism was brought on after they tried to use their oil wealth as a social safety net that ended up encouraging poverty instead of solving it.

NahnCee said
Would that be the same thing as "fixing the root causes" beloved by our Muslim brethren?


I took the 'root causes beloved by our Muslim brethern' in this case to mean exterminating the Mexicans and replacing them with a friendly ethnic. I wasn't suggesting that.

Dewage said
If that means fixing Mexico's economy, sure! Although I never thought of the Islamists as being altruistic before...


If the Muslims want to fix Israel's economy, then the test is to let Israel discover lots of oil, implement a social safety net, wreck their economy by encouraging poverty instead of fixing it and then see if the Muslims want to fix that root cause. That's not going to happen.

Desert Rat's reference to the Rockefeller/IBEC link was helpful. It puts NAFTA in a new light, although I think it makes obvious that NAFTA has been neglected if changing the direction of the Mexican economy was its goal.

6/30/2007 04:50:00 PM  

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