Saturday, May 01, 2010

Won't listen to me about immigration? Listen to Ronald Reagan then.

Supporters of the new Arizona immigration law (which gives state sanction to what the Sheriff of Nottingham has already been doing with no legal justification at all) have been jumping all over the shooting of a Sheriff's deputy in Pinal County as 'proof' that we need the law.

This of course is absurd. The shooting was carried out by suspected drug smugglers and smuggling drugs is a felony and local law enforcement already have the full authority to take action against suspected drug smugglers. So the people in more danger from the new law (and the past six years or so of increasing anti-immigrant and anti-Latino legislation and ballot initiatives pushed by Russell Pearce) are 1) migrants who are NOT otherwise committing a felony that the police already have license to go after them for-- in other words those who are here working at a job and not committing any crimes, and 2) people (like one of my close personal friends) who are Hispanic American citizens who have been detained, questioned and humiliated by police for apparently no other reasons than their skin color or surname.

In fact, if they really want to catch the drug smugglers, human traffickers and others who are causing violence along the border, then destroying any remaining trust that members of the Latino community might have towards local law enforcement seems a curious way to do it. As unscrupulous employers, drug kingpins, prostitution ringleaders and others who often exploit migrants know well, someone who is afraid to go to the police is someone who can very easily be intimidated into doing anything. Any law that makes them even more afraid of the police strengthens the hand of the real criminals, not weakens it.

Maybe GOP members might want to consider and contrast the view of migrants that this law puts forward with that espoused by their biggest icon:

I've spoken of the shining city all my political life, but I don't know if I ever quite communicated what I saw when I said it. But in my mind it was a tall, proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, windswept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace; a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity. And if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here. That's how I saw it, and see it still. -- Ronald Reagan, Farewell Address, 1989

Because in this law and others I don't see the optimistic and forward looking spirit of conservatism of the type embraced by Reagan, but instead a reactionary, angry and misguided spirit that is as far as possible from anything that Reagan ever stood for.

Hat tip: To Pres Winslow, who first pointed this out.


dorsano said...

Great quote, Eli. Reagan always was a social "liberal" for the most part (he eventually came around on AIDS). I'm not sure where he picked up his libertarian economics but near the end of his term he realized they weren't working and turned another way. He came of age politically at a time polical parties in the US were realigning - it's interesting to look at the electoral map of JFK's election - California was solid Republican. I suspect he self-identified as a Republican - didn't know a whole lot about macro economics - and to get nominated just signed up with the Goldwater crew.

dorsano said...

Eli, the link to Nottingham's collaboration with ICE's 287g (I assume) is not working

Eli Blake said...

Thanks. I fixed it.

sandyh said...

What I see is a lot of desperation in Arizona.

It's caused by Mexican drug cartels going wild and a budget crisis brought on by Bush's economic meltdown. Republicans can't face up to their past mistakes so they blame racial scapegoats. Same old song.

But passing laws they know will be held unconstitutional is just a delaying action. It will cause a lot of hype and litigation but not stop the drug gangs or fix the budget. And it will cause boycotts that will make the fiscal problems even worse.

I've never understood Libertarianism. Either you are for equal justice or you aren't. To say it applies to social matters but not to economic ones doesn't compute with me.

It must be noted that Libertarians always vote their fiscal concerns over their civil liberties. And they almost never vote Democratic when it's the Democrats who always pay down Republican deficits and support civil rights.

So it's really all about not wanting to pay their fair share of taxes. Period. Civil liberties are just a ruse like this bill is.

Eli Blake said...


I do know a couple of principled Libertarians who I respect-- not agree with, mind you, but do respect.

But you are right, that many so-called 'libertarians' are really just conservative Republicans using the label to hide behind and push their agenda.

The real problem of Arizona is that one party-- the Republican party has controlled the legislature since being swept into power of Barry Goldwater's coattails (odd thing to say, but it is true here) in 1964. During most of that time we've also had Republican governors who signed whatever they passed.

So, we have the predictable result of decades of continuous and mostly unchallenged Republican rule: Low tax rates, near the bottom funding for public schools, an economy heavily dependent on growth (few environmental or workplace regulations beyond what the Federal government puts in place,) 'Right-to-work' and other laws which restrain union activity, tax credits which effectively allow nearly unrestricted donations to private schools and then take the amounts directly out of the state coffers, unregulated charter schools (which have in recent years featured a number of sexual predators who would never have passed the background check at a public school) and lots of 'legislating morality,' at least as much as they can get away with; and developers who pretty much have always gotten their way when deciding which land to build on and which water they would use.

If conservatism worked, Arizona would today be the most prosperous state in the country. But the fact that it is not anywhere close is a testimony to the fact that conservatism has failed.

Vincent Harris said...

It's kind of a double standard to look at today and say conservatism doesn't work but then say conservatives have run Arizona since 1964.

If you compare this year to last year or two years ago it looks bad but in 1964 things were alot worse.

Since then Arizona has grown faster than any other state except maybe Nevada and Florida. Under conservatism Arizona enjoyed decades of prosperity.

Just saying if you are going to blame conservatism for the present then also credit conservatism for the boomtimes whicn went on for long enough for kids to grow up, have kids and watch their own kids grow up. If we use 1964 as a starting point to compare today with then Arizona has been a smashing conservative success.

dorsano said...

@Vincent Harris - "conservative" "liberal", etc. - I'm not really sure what to make of those sorts of words anymore - I really think they've come to identify American tribes rather than anything else. I believe that my state should put itself on a course to bring state corporate income taxes down to 0% in ten years (so long as dividends and capital gains are taxed at the federal level) - and I believe that my state should self-insure for health care (and just leave the insurance companies out of it) - and let each of us choose which ever health care provider we want regardless of who employs us. The 'conservative' tribe welcomes me on one and for some reason has a problem with the other. The 'liberal' tribe welcomes me on one and for some reason has a problem with the other.

sandyh said...

I don't get it.

Even with everyone toting guns and all that extra cash in your pockets from not paying taxes, Arizona still can't stop the drug lords?

Maybe conservative Republicans just aren't really trying very hard? They know that it was hiring illegals that led to the boom times? They can't free the slaves now and preserve the same standard of living?

But now Arizona wants more federal dollars to handle the crime problem that this created? Not with my tax money. Raise your own state taxes and hire more police...or just quit hiring illegal workers entirely.

Arizona's Republicans built their own hypocritical reality based on illegal hiring, and the illegals came...the good and the bad. You're stuck with both now.

Either conservatives finally deal with the mistakes they've made, even it means facing up to their financial responsibilities for a change, or Arizona will face a far worse future.

Passing unrealistic, unenforceable laws won't impress the drug lords. They might crack down on you even harder.