SB1070 Update: I understand, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it

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.

0 responses to “SB1070 Update: I understand, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it

  1. Thane,

    What needful state law have the Democrats been able to obstruct the Republicans from passing here in Arizona?

    I thought the Republicans have absolute, completely dominant majorities in both houses of the state congress, therefore the Democrats literally cannot obstruct anything here in Arizona. (It’s like me blocking one of Kobe Bryant’s shots; ain’t ever gonna happen!)

    The only possible obstruction of any type of Republican bill is when a Republican gets a conscience and decides not to go along (e.g., the last “jobs bill” that was really just another corporate tax cut).

    So, is the purpose of your post to suggest that since both parties obstruct, it is OK, just par for the course, business as usual? Therefore, Republican obstructionism isn’t quite as ugly and repulsive as we first think? Kind of rub some of the ugly off it since both parties do it? That they are (to use your words) really a “mirror image” of each other?

    Please point it out if I am wrong; maybe I am not informed as well as I think I am. If the state Democrats can actually obstruct anything the Republicans want to do in either house of our state legislature, the world just got a little brighter for me, a little glimmer of hope was ignited in otherwise woeful state universe.

    And I reject the notion that both parties are just mirror images. NO. It’s workers vs. profits; it’s state jobs vs. corporate tax cuts; it’s the public common vs. no tax pledges; it’s public schools vs. drown the gov’t in the bathtub. For me, an old liberal who has seen what works and what doesn’t, it’s smart vs. stupid, and sometimes it’s even becomes right vs. wrong.

    Now, I don’t know if I am reading too much into what you said, or inferring too much out of nothing, but saying Democrats can obstruct anything the Republicans want to do in the state of Arizona presents a very false picture as far as I know, and I also reject the proposition that the two parties are just mirror images of one another.

  2. Francine Shacter

    Immigration is a Federal issue. The law presents serious preemption issues. For this fact alone, it has to be challenged. Once you take all the emotion out of it, it isn’t complicated. Those of you who disagree with me, let’s just stick to the facts and try our hardest to keep emotion out of the interchange – ok????

  3. Finding more ways to punish businesses is (in my opinion) about 5 times the effort and cost of legalizing immigrant labor.

  4. Yet another interesting mirror image. The federal Democrats are accusing the Republicans of obstructing needful legislation. The state Republicans are accusing the opposition (Democrats) of obstructing needful legislation.

  5. So Arizona enacted the “Legal Arizona Workers Act” way back in 2007, and a bunch of Republican business groups like the Chamber of Commerce immediately sued, claiming that the bill was unconstitutional and preempted federal law.

    The Legal Arizona Workers Act revokes the business license of businesses that either knowingly or ignorantly hire illegal immigrants.

    The legal challenge to this law is still winding its way through the legal system, and is set to be heard by the Supreme Court in October.

    Where are all the teabaggers attacking Republican big business because they dare to challenge the will of Arizonans in the face of an unsolved immigration problem?

    [For the record, I support the Legal Arizona Workers Act, as it is my belief that nothing gets done in this country until you start inflicting pain on our corporate overlords. If the cheap labor pipeline corporate America has developed starts becoming a liability for them instead of a benefit, and businesses start losing their business licenses for hiring illegal immigrants, Congress will have a comprehensive immigration reform bill on the table about 30 seconds later.]