Immigration Reform may or may not end up being the hot button issue for 2010, but as the end of year reviews and one-year assessments of the Obama Administration hit the press, one thing is certain: Barack Obama’s presidency owes a good deal to the undocumented immigration meme.
Looking back at the October 2007 democratic party debate as a turning point in Obama’s journey to the nomination, it is quite possible that had Hillary Clinton not stumbled on the question about Real ID and drivers licenses for undocumented immigrants, Obama would not have reversed the polls of that month which showed Clinton with a double digit lead.
During the waning days of the 2008 campaign, as Obama looked nearly invincible against the aging and incredibly lackluster John McCain, McCain’s veep candidate Sarah Palin started questioning where Barack Obama was born. The blatant subtext was that barack Obama was an undocumented immigrant and had no legitimate claim on the presidency. The trope of being undocumented connoted illigitimacy and danger. Obama was too different, too foreign, too black, too “muslim”, too threatening to ever be president.
Such “know-nothing” attempts to discredit the legitimacy of Obama presidency didn’t cease when he took office. Quite the contrary: It spread virulent attacks against Obama which have made fiction of the democratic process.
During Obama’s address to both chambers of congress, Joe Wilson shouted “you lie” when the President declared that HCR would not cover undocumented immigrants.
The breech of decorum aside, Wilson’s outburst was an exclamation mark framing the idea that deliberative democracy in America is gone. It has been sabotaged by Obama’s right wing opposition which is now favored to have a resurgence in 2010.
So, here’s the bigger question, what is it about the “undocumented immigration” meme that permits its use as a cudgel on democracy?
Undocumented immigration hay have destroyed America, but not the way political conservatives would have us believe.