Secondly, we’ve had three debates now, and I can’t recall a single question about the issue–other than the war–that dominated the GOP primary debates: illegal immigration. Is McCain afraid to bring the topic up given his history of flip-flopping on the issue? Does the mainstream media (outside of Lou Dobbs and Bill O’Reilly) so regard illegal immigration as a “rube” issue based entirely on anti-Hispanic sentiment that they don’t consider it worth discussing? True, the elite in both parties tend to favor looser standards on immigration because of their globalist commitments over and against the bases of both parties. But in a campaign season dominated by faux populism–arugula, Joe Sixpack and Hockey Moms, Scranton, “gotcha media”–you’d think a genuine populist issue like illegal immigration might have gained a hearing as well.
Maybe I have Grand New Party on the brain, but it seems to me if John McCain had come out with a strong economic case against illegal immigration back in August or September (leave the “cultural threat” stuff to the wingnut fringe), he might have been able to rally the working class on an issue that ties directly to the over-arching theme of a weak economy (unlike Bill Ayers), not freak out the opinion-makers and the Europeans, and perhaps might have kept more of the Clinton primary states in play. I’m thinking Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, and other states with a significant number of blue collar workers that were once toss-ups but are now strongly trending Obama. Illegal immigrants taking unskilled positions at below-market wages is a real Main Street issue for the working class. We get a lot of talk about stocks and 401(k) returns, but many people like myself have years to get the losses back–illegal immigration is a working class economic issue right now. Talking about it would show McCain has the ability to connect with people outside of the Beltway corridor on an authentic populist issue.
But McCain isn’t talking about it. Instead we have Bill Ayers, earmarks, and spending freezes. Feh. Go Phils.