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Tuesday, April 11, 2006

The Future of America?

Emery and I ran down to the national mall as the immigrant rights rally was just winding down last night. It was hope-inspiring to see all those families and groups of friends proclaiming their love for the US and celebrating their own pride and dignity. The demands almost seemed secondary to the sheer joy of self-expression. Everyone we saw on the streets was smiling. The mall was left in beautiful condition. Despite the thousands upon thousands who had assembled, there was no more litter than usual, the turf hardly looked trampled. Their presence seemed to honor the place. One really did feel, as Sen. Kennedy put it, that assembled there was the future of America. They were so young and so energetic, and there were so many children.

Being there did give me a feeling similar to the one Publius so beautifully describes in his post today: maybe this is a turning point. There was a hopefulness, a positive energy, an expansiveness that made recent politics seem so small and petty and somehow over. Perhaps it was all an illusion, and we will return to the politics of resentment and fear described by TenaciousMcD. Perhaps we're doomed to Paul's Aeschylean fall. But I came away with the first taste of political optimism I've felt in a long time.


At 12:02 PM, Blogger Paul said...

We'll I hate to throw cold water on the party, but I suspect that all the demonstrations are going to backfire in Middle America. I also think that the Republicans are bringing all this up right now not only to take our minds off Iraq, but also to give the country a big, fat wedgie.

At 8:05 PM, Blogger Number Three said...

I agree that the demonstrations are going to cause a backlash, but immigration is not a wedge issue, not for Democrats, anyway. The classic wedge issue is an issue that unites your party and divides the other party. Right now, it's the Republican party that is divided by immigration reform. If the GOP all lined up behind more enforcement, more deportations, and English-only, with a healthy dose of economic populism (I'm looking at you, Lou Dobbs), then they would cause the Dems a major headache. But the GOP, as constituted today, is incapable of taking an economic populist position. (So are the Dems, btw.)

The heartland is going to react very, very negatively to the demonstrations. But then, when conservative voters in Mississippi, Kansas, and Ohio look to their GOP leaders, they are going to see that their positions are all over the place. My guess is that the inability of the Republicans to respond, with a unified voice (which is, after all, what the Republican rank-and-file has come to expect, for good reason), will send the rank-and-file into a fit of anger that will hurt the party in power.

I could be wrong. But this issue is not helping the GOP right now.


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