The Republican Fear Factor

February 18, 2019

The Republicans, whether in the White House or in Congress, are really masters of fear-mongering, in fact they are brilliant pushing at a political strategy that works. The list of fears is long and diverse – fear of immigrants, fear of crime, fear of gun laws, fear of taxes, fear of strong women, fear of big government, and now fear of socialism. I may have left a few out but I think you get my drift.

The Democrats are novices at the fear game and have not been up to the challenge of tapping into the driving force of voter motivation. They have tried with global warming/climate change and now with taxing the rich but they just don’t know how to convince people that governing is about cowering in a corner – whatever happened to the land of the free and HOME OF THE BRAVE.

Thanks to the progressive side of the Democrats in Congress pushing for a Green Deal, Medicare for all and tax increases on the rich the Republicans are back at the fear gambit  characterizing the female leaders of the movement as radicals who are taking the United States down the road to Venezuela. Fear has been at the core of the Trump strategy, especially with immigrants, and so the long knives are out to convince Americans that they must fear big spending, big taxes and big programs.

Now what may help the Democrats deal with the fear factor is that the new Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, does not appear to wilt in the face of President Trump’s threats or the Republican leadership. Also the new women in the House like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez show little concern over challenging cabinet officials, lobbyists and the Republican men. The fact that she and others might get their facts wrong or over play their policy recommendations has not stopped them from responding to the fear strategy with a healthy dose of class warfare.

So as the politics of governing plays out in the coming months what we will likely see is a tug of competing strategies as the Republicans continue to try and scare the livin’ daylights out of Americans with the fear strategy while the Democrats try and convince voters that they have been cheated out of their hard earned money by greedy millionaires and billionaires.

The fact that Trump Republicans continue to hold onto their base suggests that the fear strategy still works (at least while the economy remains strong), but preliminary polling shows that Americans like the concept of Medicare for all, believe that climate change must be addressed, and agree that the rich need to start paying their fair share of taxes. We could be at a turning point in American politics as fear is replaced with class, in fact the 2020 election is likely to be a contest between these two powerful motivations.




If We Only Had An Immigration Policy

November 26, 2018

In a normal governing climate when a problem of serious proportions arises governmental leaders often times rise to the occasion and take steps to correct the problem. Usually these governmental leaders come late to the problem, sometimes when the problem rises to a crisis stage, but they do eventually act to address the problem/ crisis. Sometimes the solution is piecemeal or slow to be implemented, other times the solution is fraught with unintended consequences. But the problem/crisis does foster  a serious attempt to deal with the matter.

Not so with immigration. The last time this country dealt with immigration was back in the Reagan administration, but the solutions agreed upon then were not comprehensive in nature and did not create a rush of partisan division or anger. Today, of course, we live in a far different political and governing climate from the Reagan years as now issues of national security, walls, asylum, child separations, and caravans foster a toxic mix of fear, nationalism, and hatred; there is little interest in trying to find out what can be done to solve the problem and certainly not much in the way of human compassion.

If we had a government that works and if national political leaders could put down their partisanship even for a few months there is a way out of this mess, and that would be a public policy that dealt with how to handle the crush of illegal immigrants seeking to enter the United States, the status of those undocumented immigrants already in the country, the protocol for asylum seekers, temporary work permits, and a reasonable amnesty system especially for the children of illegals brought to this country when they were babies.

Believe it or not  formulating such a policy is not rocket science since there have been many legislative initiatives put forward over the years by both Democrats and Republicans. If there was a will, a big IF, these initiatives could easily be dusted off and packaged into a comprehensive solution to our immigration mess – a rigorous pathway to citizenship for those here illegally, protections for young people brought here as babies, limited work permits with identification cards for those undocumented aliens seeking temporary employment, asylum opportunities for only the most deserving, fast track H1B cards for those immigrants with special skills, economic and political pressure on Central American countries to stem the tide of illegals heading north and of course a beefed up Border Patrol.

Serious public policies that address the key challenges of illegal immigration are far better than billions spent on a wall that only would show how incompetent and broken our government is. Sadly under the current administration there is little interest in public policies on immigration, only tough words and threats. As we have seen, tough words and threats haven’t stopped the caravan and future caravans from heading north. What would stem the tide of illegals is a  comprehensive policy system that addresses all the failures that years of inaction have created.