By Arthur Piccolo
News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. May 13, 2011: Demagogue: definition: one who manipulates public emotions to gain power or popularity. Hmmmmmm.
Presidential candidate Barack Obama made immigration reform one of his chief promises during the campaign in 2008. Then quickly forgot about it after his election. Nothing has changed except the next campaign is underway. Not immigration nor Obama’s rhetoric on the subject. This week’s high visibility statements by the President has been a perfect correction imperfect example of his well developed style of governing.
O how he covets the Latino vote as of course he would. And no subject is as dear to as many voting Latinos as immigration. It is a very practical issue for many having relatives or friends in the U.S. illegally under current law or deported for this reason. Most others harassed one way or another while they are here often working and living in deplorable conditions.
It is an even larger and more basic issue to many Latinos and to a
sizeable number of other Americans on principle as defining the nature and quality of our country and our immigrant spirit of earlier immigrants. That paradoxically is widely celebrated as part of the American myth but that excludes those from Latin America from the accolades and in fact punishes and vilifies their interest in living and working in the United States.
So it is useful for President Obama to be seen as a strong advocate for enlightened immigration reform which will end much of the persecution of many Latino immigrants to America. Unfortunately for Obama there are serious questions being raised in the Latino community and beyond it about his sincerity.
From the perspective here in Obama’s America this series, it seems to be yet another example of President Obama’s real and only agenda to get himself re-elected by appealing to as many groups as possible and taking any position that appeals to significant bocks while courting opposing blocks by not fulfilling those promises.
So you say so what those are the ways of politics. And I say gotcha; that is my point. President Obama is a very typical American politician not the Change Master he markets himself to be. So what happened this past week?
President Obama hopped on Air Force One for the umpteenth time – this time to El Paso, Texas which makes my point. He went there to inspect measures to prevent border crossings by Mexicans and other Latinos and to praise his “successful” efforts to deport more “illegals” than under any previous President while at the same time calling for immigration reform.
Now combining the two opposite themes may seem to make sense and it does cynically for President Obama – but here is why it does not.
If we are making serious “progress” preventing the undocumented
from entering the country and better and better at rounding up those who are here and sending them back well the Right Wing which opposes reform is getting all it wants, and it does not want those God forsaken Mexicans and other Latin Americans coming
to or staying in America. Nirvana for many on the Right would be NO Latinos in any of the 50 states or the District of Columbia.
So Obama finishes his El Paso walk through taking lots of photos with the border police then he strides over to a microphone to tell everyone, specifically Latino American and many Democratic
Voters, about how passionate and committed he is to real immigration reform and legislation.
Well HELLO Mr. President; that is surely not the way to convince
the part of America opposed or the many members of Congress
who don’t want to support immigration reform that they should.
What are the chances Obama does not know this? None. Pushing seriously for immigration reform would mean the President standing in the desert near El Paso where Latinos have died trying desperately to get to the U.S. and/or visiting one of the many deplorable deportation “centers” where undocumented Latinos are housed (sic) before being booted out of the country.
For the President to listen to their sad painful stories with the cameras rolling, then stand in front of a microphone and tell the country how much we need immigration reform right now.
Or how about this ….
President Obama using his pleasure dome, Air Force One, to travel to Ellis Island and surrounded by immigrants from all over talk to the cameras about how the U.S. has always been a nation of immigrants and how previous generations of “patriotic” Americans did everything possible to keep out Italian, Irish, Asian, and many other waves of immigrants beginning from the very founding of America. That lucky for us they failed.
For President Obama to stand on Ellis Island and remember out loud how if the xenophobic Americans of the past had been more
“successful” in keeping our golden doors shut much of what is
America today never would have been built and the America they
love today would not exist were it not for millions upon millions of
immigrants who for 200 years were decidedly NOT welcome.
NO President Obama does not want to do that and will not do that
and be labeled by the Right Wing as a dangerous immigrant loving monster who must not be re-elected. What President Obama wants is for the immigrant bashers to feel that they need not go all out to defeat him in 2012 because he really isn’t all that friendly to immigration and most of all President Obama will not do as much as he would need to actually get immigration reform legislation enacted rather than just talk about it.
But at the same time for Latino American voters and a good portion of the Democratic base who desperately want to believe in Obama’s sincerity he makes “strong” comments in El Paso in favor of immigration reform then (today) on Thursday morning lo and behold surprise President Obama is the keynote speaker yes at the National Hispanic Prayer Breakfast in Washington, DC to “mobilize” a movement for immigration reform.
Here is President Obama in his own words at the breakfast as reported in The New York Times …
“As it is written in the Book of Deuteronomy, ‘Love ye therefore the stranger: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt,’” Mr. Obama said at the biannual National Hispanic Prayer Breakfast. “What this verse reminds us to do,” he added, “is to look at that migrant farmer and see our own grandfather disembarking at Ellis Island, or Angel Island in San Francisco Bay; and to look at that
young mother, newly arrived in this country, and see our own grandmothers leaving Italy or Ireland or Eastern Europe in search of something better.”
Now here is the “best” part his concluding remark …
“So I’ll keep doing my part. I’ll keep pushing and working with Congress. But the only way we are going to get this done is by building a widespread movement for reform.”
In other words FORGET about immigration reform AND yes remember don’t blame him; blame yourselves for not mobilizing! Say AMEN Mr. President.
Arthur Piccolo is a professional writer and commentator and often writes about Latin America for New Americas.