by David Safier
The Feds filed a lawsuit against SB1070, and the politicians' reactions are pouring in. Of course, the Rs have a dozen reasons why the lawsuit is terrible. But to my dismay, most Ds, at least those from Arizona, kinda agree.
The basic Democratic response is, the Feds shouldn't file a lawsuit because that doesn't address the real immigration problem. There's some questionable logic going on here. Yes, we need genuine immigration reform, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't fight a bill that challenges federal immigration authority and may be unconstitutional.
The bottom line is, Democrats don't want to go on record challenging SB1070, which polls say is popular, so they're shying away from criticizing it directly for fear of the attacks their challengers will bring against them. Instead, they're adopting a semi-safe, semi-middle position.
I understand. It makes good short term political sense to dance around SB1070. But it also gives the Republicans cover. SB1070 will remain popular so long as it isn't challenged. That means the hatred and the bigotry built into SB1070 is given a pass, and the Republicans who promote the hatred and bigotry look reasonable because Dems say, "I understand why they're frustrated over illegal immigration." By my lights, that helps Republicans more than Democrats.
Republicans managed to move the country against health care reform by attacking constantly, often irrationally, and creating doubt and fear. I guess that's not in the Democratic DNA. We want to be reasonable. We want to be right. If we screamed the equivalent of "Death Panels!" and we were called on it, we would duck our heads in shame and say, "Yeah, I guess we went a little too far that time."
So this may be our fate, to try and be nuanced and to avoid direct confrontation with Republicans who exaggerate and lie with impunity. Unfortunately, it puts us at a rhetorical disadvantage. Voters often prefer candidates who are "strong and wrong" over candidates who are right but appear to be waffling because they insist on presenting ideas that reflect the complexities of the real world.