It used to be that any mention of Social Security by an aspiring politician would be tantamount to professional suicide. Nobody wanted to talk about solvency issues or benefit curtailment much less question the basic tenets underlying the whole raison d'etre for the program. We got over all that when the tea party pushed their nonsense agenda to the front of the news pages. They proudly scream that the whole idea of government helping old or sick people is wrong headed and in need of evisceration. And everybody else is afraid to defend the program much less suggest it be expanded or firmed up in the face of withering ridicule from the right. Indeed we have stepped through a looking glass where all that made sense no longer does. And yet, we are on the edge of a new precipice. . .a cliff over which no one is prepared to peer, much less walk along. The new additional rail is immigration and I am a tiny bit afraid of electricity. Still, I want to talk about it and maybe bring out some ideas from thinking people because so far the only people talking about it do not seem to be thinking very hard about what they are saying.
Three years ago, I went to a local meet and greet organized by the liberal left bureaucrats, professors and what pass for intelligentsia who run my neighborhood association. The idea was to introduce us all to a woman named Regina Romero who had decided to crown herself our new City Council person. The previous guy was retiring after his use of policemen to shield him from hostile citizens at town hall meetings was no longer effective. After collecting the required signatures to get on the ballot, she found herself unopposed in the general election and thus on a waltzing path to victory even though the election was two months away.
In the course of her self introduction to our group of thirty or so, she stated that her parents had come to the USA as migrant workers but had no papers and were technically illegal. With her voice choking and tears flowing, the earnest political performer who could pass for Linda Ronstadt's little sister admitted that her mother just happened to have been with child during a visit to Colorado to pick apples for hard currency. Regina Romero had become a US citizen by an accident of birth and was now assuming the right to represent a few hundred thousand people of our city at the table of government.
I was probably the only person in the room who did not feel pangs of support, or shed crocodile tears, or go up to give her a big hug afterward for "being so courageous" as someone said out loud. And today, the executive order from the President that effectively implements what some are calling the "dream act" goes into effect. I want to continue being enlightened and liberal and left wing and progressive and wide eyed. But it's hard. If anyone can help me with this, please reach out and smack me or correct me or talk some sense into me.
On a recent trip to San Francisco, California, I drove up the 101 through Salinas and came back down the I-5 through the central valley. The stark reality of where our supermarket food comes from raced past my windows for miles and miles and miles. . .through 105 degree temperatures and baking, sweat-producing sunlight. Chevy Silverados and Ford F-150s trundled along the ditches with port-a-potties dragging behind so the workers could relieve themselves in accordance with strict laws enacted by California lawmakers. Water jugs were also there to re-hydrate the humans who toil for weeks in wretched conditions for paltry pay. And when I see that avocados are 99 cents each, I recoil and do without since I consider that an inflated price that serves only to enrich the billionaire family of mormons that own Albertson's supermarkets. Am I the only one who sees this as another looking glass reflection of distorted images that make no sense to anyone with a brain who can do grade school math in his head? There is a lot wrong with all three dimensions of this picture.
I went to hear Cesar Chavez give a speech once; he shrieked and screamed "Viva la Raza" to whip up support for Bobby Kennedy's presidential campaign, and the white anglo members of the crowd heartily joined in. But if my mexican congressman whose name is Raul Grijalva were to give a speech in support of Obama, and he screamed out "Viva La Raza," I wonder how many whites would join the chorus given today's economic realities. He would more likely start a race riot with such talk now.
It is commonly believed that no white people will pick vegetables outdoors in the summer for any amount of money though that thesis has never been rigorously tested. It is the underlying foundation for the entire migrant worker program which gets what are really third world peasants into the land of Oz for a day pass of back breaking labor in exchange for a fistful of grubby dollars. Middle and upper class white (and black and brown and yellow) citizens who power our giant consuming economic engine blithely pay a dollar or two or three or five for a box of strawberries or a head of lettuce or a bag of potatoes with no thought to the big picture. It has been like this for a couple three generations now and everybody is happy with it.
Only we have a new set of circumstances whose origins can be spelled NAFTA. It was the rightest most conservative democrat since Carter who rammed it through the Congress with zero votes to spare way back twenty years ago. . .and now we are seeing what might have been his ulterior motives playing out? Or is it just dumb luck that the leveling of the playing field to allow social darwinism to be staged on a grand scale is now pushing older, less skilled, maybe less healthy, maybe less educated, but decidedly white workers out of the labor pool? This bloc of white Americans who do not want to be put in the same demographic gene pool that Archie Bunker epitomized, ridiculed and institutionalized find themselves being put precisely into the untenable position of seeing their way of life taken away and replaced with something that is uncomfortable, unfriendly, un-American and unrecognizable. Immigrants from mexico mainly but all the other countries of central america will be coming now in greater numbers to attend school, get jobs and speak spanish on TV and in local businesses. All with the blessing of the US Federal Government. This re-ordering of the demographics has started in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and southern California mainly. It will continue and expand; do not delude yourself.
Let me return to northern California for a moment to cast the dichotomy more starkly. The upper middle white educated class of the East Bay and SF proper have no fear of these changes because they are still insulated from them by geography mainly. Those who still vote in large enough numbers for Democrats and turn a map deep blue with a collective stroke of their light pens on election day do not identify with the Bunker crowd who react with instinctive fear of invading tribes. I was all but accused of being one of these neanderthals by mere possession of a Grand Canyon State driver's license during my visit to SF. Nobody reading this from their high rise apartment overlooking Golden Gate Park will comprehend the dilemma I am describing and that exists here in the Arizona desert 60 miles from the mexican border.
I wish I could be like my San Francisco friends and reject those who fan the hatred and fear of mexicans that is just under the surface here. But the popularity of our governor who continues to defy the federal mandates to accommodate, acquiesce and accept is proof that a new and dangerous rail packing megawatts of anger and resentment and distrust is poorly protected and dangerously close to the surface. No democrat running for any office in Arizona dare bring up the tensions I am describing here. Republicans who trade on these ideas are assured election. So my original question remains: is there a liberal view of the problem that asks for some retention of some characteristics of white European american culture with restoration of the basic former structure of a fair labor market, equal educational opportunity, taxes paid by all, and government services allocated to those who have participated? Sort of like a hundred million of you still enjoy in New England, the Pacific Northwest and San Francisco. . .Or have I turned into Archie Bunker and not even realized it? Does wanting life to be fair like it used to be make me a xenophobic white supremacist? My cry for help goes out to you dear reader.