Friday, September 04, 2015

The sad political truth

I'm all for swinging doors wide open and letting a whole lot of Syrian refugees into the U.S., but I just can't see that happening in the current political climate.

We in the midst of a presidential election year (somewhat misnamed because the fucking process takes more than a year). When we are in one of those, the political system always goes a little crazy. But this year we are going really crazy, largely because the Republican party is currently dominated by crazy people, and because the current guy who is dominating that race is even crazier than the rest.

Donald Trump has made illegal immigration the centerpiece of his campaign. Illegal immigrants are not the same thing as refugees, but the primary voters who the GOP are catering to are not likely to see much a distinction. And those voters, thanks largely to the demagoguery of Donald Trump and most of his opponents as they all fall over themselves to jump on his bandwagon, seem to think that there is a historically large number of people coming illegally to the U.S. That assumption is objectively false if you look at the data. But they are not looking at the data. They're looking at a failed businessman who successfully marketed himself as a successful businessman talking about an immigration crisis. So voila, there is an immigration crisis. At least there is in the heads of Republican voters.

And alas, what happens in their heads matters. A lot. Because those heads are what virtually every Republican official are going to be pandering to in the next 14 months. And while Republicans do not hold the presidency, they do hold the other two-thirds of the government, i.e. both chambers of Congress and (effectively) the Supreme Court. And they control an effective outrage machine in a presidential election "year."

I just don't see how we are going to end up letting more Syrians into the country, no matter how good of an idea that is or many dead three year olds wash up on the beach. The people who drive a lot of policy in this country are far more concerned with made-up crises than the real ones.