As Rahm Emanuel continues his campaign to demonize immigrants, I think it’s valuable to place these actions in the larger context of his continuing support for the corporate welfare otherwise known as “free trade.” Sirota has an excellent piece connecting the dots:
The fact is, both Democrats and Republicans know that exploitation is at the heart of illegal immigration, but neither party is really willing to confront that exploitation because that would mean confronting their big corporate donors who are profiting off the status quo. And so, taking a scapegoat play out of the Reagan and Clinton playbooks, the con artists in both parties are trying to channel Americans’ intense anger at Big Money interests into a rage at illegal immigrants.
This is particularly disgusting on the Democratic side, mainly because the Democratic Party is supposed to be the party of the little guy, and of fairness. Instead, it is becoming the party of Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-IL) – the former investment banker and NAFTA architect who is cravenly trying to protect the moneyed interests that have underwritten his political career by playing to the ugliest societal instincts. The whole debate is about how much or little to punish undocumented workers – rather than about how to punish the moneyed interests that are abusing all workers, undocumented or otherwise.
Clearly, illegal immigration is a serious issue that needs to be addressed – but simply bashing illegal immigrants or proposing punitive measures against them doesn’t go the root problem, nor will it solve the issue.
But then, perhaps neither party wants to get to the root of the problem. Maybe both parties want a scapegoat to take take heat off the interests writing the big campaign checks. That would be a real tragedy, especially considering polls show that the American public is ready to embrace the kind of populist power-challenging politics that would be required to beef up wage/workplace safety enforcement and reform our globalization policies so that they lift up all workers, rather than crushing them and exacerbating the illegal immigration problem.
NAFTA was Rahm’s baby, and his reward was the congressional seat he now holds. He recruits Republicans for Democratic seats because he knows they will be reliable votes for the trade- and corporate-friendly legislation he promotes (drill down into the immigration bill he put forward through his puppet Heath Shuler and you’ll find yet another corporate boondoggle to privatize/raid more of the public sphere through the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security that the taxpayers underwrite). He’s a portrait of everything Naomi Klein warns about, and to do his dirty work he needs a convenient scapegoat for his narrative that immigrants serve well.
Now he’s turned into a concern troll, offering advice to Republicans. Word to Rahm: the Democrats don’t need a Karl Rove.
(h/t Eureka Springs)