Let's (Not) Get Mean

Hey again, Ezrafficionados. Much thanks to Ezra for once again tossing this opportunity my way; it's a pleasure to be back. I think we're going to have some fun this weekend, as I have a few decent rants planned. Due to a scheduling thing, I won't be posting much until later this evening. For now, I want to flag some weird advice from the Democrats' answer to Jeff Foxworthy, Dave "I Actually Make People Call Me 'Mudcat'" Saunders:

"Bubba doesn’t call them illegal immigrants. He calls them illegal
aliens. If the Democrats put illegal aliens in their bait can, we’re
going to come home with a bunch of white males in the boat."

Okay, listen. I know Democrats have to be more sensitive to the cultural concerns of white guys. On some fronts, I'm sympathetic to that impulse. But it seems like a lot of advice Democrats have been getting lately amounts, essentially, to "Be rhetorically meaner to group X," and that kind of bothers me.

First, it's bad politics, because people can smell a phony a mile away. The reason John Kerry's opposition to gay marriage won exactly zero white votes is that white male voters don't really care about your stance on gay marriage or immigration; what they want to know is whether you share the same level of cultural concern about these phenomena, and he clearly didn't. Moreover, do we really want to start getting mean - not tough, but mean - on immigrants at a time when the Hispanic demographics in AZ, NM, and the southwest are becoming increasingly large and decreasingly reliable for Democrats? (Hint: No.)

More to the point, though, this bothers me on an ethical level. Democrats, I'm sorry, are not the party of meanness. We're not the party of exacerbating cultural divisions. I know it sounds trite, but we campaign on the hope of unity, not the fear that amplifies division. So when I hear that we have to move to the right policy-wise on some areas, I'm open to the idea. But lateral moves on policy should never be confused with downward moves on rhetoric. There's a million things we could stand to get tougher on, but there's not a lot I want us to get meaner about. It's not who we are, and it's certainly not who I want us to be.

Clarification: I'm not objecting to calling them "illegal immigrants." Aside from not being particularly offensive, that's just objectively true. What I'm objecting to is switching from "immigrants" to "aliens" for no other reason than to tap into the powerhouse of ressentiment that is white males. These people may be breaking laws, but they're doing it in search of a better life. They're not bad people, and they're not terrorists. I'm fine with tightening legal restraints on them, but let's not chastize them personally in the process, hey?

- Daniel A. Munz

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