Monday, September 14, 2020

Romney knew exactly what he was doing

Another new book I'm reading (as opposed to something I'm re-reading) is America for Americans by Erika Lee. I loved The Making of Asian America, but this one is even more powerful, perhaps because it is so timely.

Or so you might think, but the truth is that immigration is an evergreen issue in this country, and it's easier to name periods where that wasn't a constant argument, rather than when it was. (And wow: if anyone wants to wax poetic about Boston's storied history of fighting for liberty, just toss this book at them and tell you to call you when they're done. My city appears way more frequently than it should, as does Harvard University.) My family and I just finished the chapter about what happened to Mexican Americans all over the country during the Great Depression. Really sickening to read about how people were tricked into leaving, including by social workers they trusted, so "real" white Americans wouldn't have to compete with as many people for scarce jobs. And for all of the people who go on about the calculated plots people draw up that center around US-born "anchor babies", such children were in the same boat as their parents when they were pressured to leave and coerced into signing documents that meant they wouldn't be able to return. 

You can read more here about just how well Mexico fared during the Depression.

This program was sold as "voluntary departure" and "repatriation", and when I saw that term I couldn't help but think of Mitt Romney is 2012 touting his strategy of "self-deportation" for undocumented immigrants. I remember rolling my eyes when he first proposed that during the debates, and I remember the way he said it. To me, it sounded like a hokey mix of aw shucks and someone reaching for words in the moment, something Romney did frequently on the campaign trail. But it was completely disingenuous to suggest that someone who became the Republican nominee for president had never heard of what had happened during the 1930s when he was coming up with talking points on a hot-button issue and just came up with that phrase -- and concept -- on the spur of the moment.

Romney is a much better actor than many of us ever gave him credit for, and I don't think I can see him casting a vote to remove the president -- or even marching with Black Lives Matter -- and think he's the real deal.

Deb in the City

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