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Thursday, November 20, 2014

There's Actually a Name for Those People, Secretary Kobach

As the hysteria over President Obama's upcoming and, sadly, rather run-of-the-mill abuse of presidential power over immigration policies builds to a fever pitch, let us hear some clarifying words from Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach:

"The long term strategy of, first of all, replacing American voters with illegal aliens, recently legalized, who then become U.S. citizens....There is still a decided bias in favor of bigger government not smaller government. So maybe this strategy of replacing American voters with newly legalized aliens, if you look at it through an ethnic lens....you've got a locked in vote for socialism."

There is more at the link which features Kobach speculating thoughtfully, in response to a caller who asks about the possibility of Hispanic immigrants engaging in a murderous ethnic cleansing of Caucasians, about the rule of law in America, but let's stick with the quotation above, and one slight problem with it. Not the presumption that all these poor Hispanic immigrants are going to vote for expanding government programs, nor the (incorrect) assumption that expanded government programs is the same thing as "socialism," but rather just the language Secretary Kobach uses. You see, if you are an "illegal alien" whose residency in this country is "legalized," such that you are now a "U.S. citizen" who can "vote for socialism" (or whatever), well, then that means you are what is usually called an "American voter." And additional "American voters"--even "newly legalized" ones (and by the way, you can't call them "newly legalized aliens," because by virtue of being "newly legalized" they aren't "aliens" any longer, but "Americans")--cannot possibly be understood as "replacing" other "American voters" because they are "American voters."

Unless, I suppose, Secretary Kobach was suggesting that Hispanics immigrants who "become U.S. citizens" and vote still aren't really "American voters," but rather are something else. I'm sure that was just a slip of the tongue, however. I mean, who could possibly mean something as silly as that?


Anonymous said...

Sigh. FYI, cheap and flimsy accusations of racism don't scare anyone on the right (no matter their subcategory of conservatism) anymore. Do they actually impress people on the left still?

Russell Arben Fox said...


"Cheap" I'll happily grant you; there is very little which is said on talk radio or written on blogs which doesn't qualify as that. But "flimsy"? I have to strongly disagree on that point; if you--or, indeed, Secretary Kobach himself--can explain exactly how it is that his comments weren't assuming that a certain category of voters are to be considered suspect solely because of their origin, I'd love to hear it. As for the impact of this, well no, of course almost no one on the right cares about accusations of racism anymore, sadly enough. Do people are the left like to hear them? Sure; putting them out there makes us feel good about ourselves. We're superficial that way (though I suspect you already believed that). As always, thanks for commenting.

Anonymous said...

"We're superficial that way (though I suspect you already believed that)"

Actually, no I didn't believe that about you, personally, at least. I've been reading you on FPR for a long time, and actually I'm often surprised by stuff you write because you're quite atypical of those on the left, at least those who are active on the internet, that scourge of all that is decent and moral. It's interesting to read someone who often says things that I agree with 100% and then later says something that reveals that your foundational assumptions are radically different from mine.

Immigration is an issue that has been ruined by intentionally divisive rhetoric in the last few decades, to the point where I don't see any hope for pulling back from the abyss. I remember moving from bigoted and backwards Texas to enlightened and egalitarian California in the mid 1990s and being shocked at the massive resentment towards immigrants combined with vicious race-baiting "activists" clearly trying to stoke feelings of persecution among those immigrants. As far as I could tell, the root of the problem was that in TX you could still get by in the lower-middle class but in CA you just couldn't, and that has not only gotten exponentially worse in CA since then, but has spread to much of the country.

Personally, I'd open the borders pretty wide, with caveats being that dual citizenship would be abolished, cultural assimilation would be actively encouraged/enforced, measures to ensure productivity were put in place, etc. But then, I'm not lower-middle class, so I don't feel threatened at all by immigration. However, I do feel, along with that segment of society, that the dominant political and economic class has nothing but contempt for many of my values, so my sympathies are with them in many ways. Being called a racist by someone who you already know hates you just doesn't have an impact. But again, this is an area where everyone has basically given up on persuasion.

Russell Arben Fox said...


Thanks for helping me understand a little better where you're coming from, and my apologies for jumping to conclusions about your point of view. Also, thanks for the kind words about my FPR writings. It's been an interesting journey over there--when the site started out, there were a few other oddball left-wingers that would write occasionally, but I think most of them have kind of fallen away.

the root of the problem was that in TX you could still get by in the lower-middle class but in CA you just couldn't, and that has not only gotten exponentially worse in CA since then, but has spread to much of the country

That touches on something that I think is really quite important, but which I really haven't given enough thought to. The historical data makes it clear that unions in the U.S. were hardly wonderful tools of integration, and often in fact contributed to the opposite, but still: when a lower-middle class life is both economically feasible (you can afford to get your kids into college, etc.) and culturally respectable, the idea that folks very different from you are building up their own parallel neighborhoods and routes to success needn't be an invitation to identity politics, because you don't need (and over-educated elites won't be terribly successful in brow-beating you into believing that you need) identity-as-an-economic-proxy; you'll be okay, economically, and so identity can take care of itself.

How to explain someone like Kobach in a place like Kansas, then, where finance capitalism hasn't quite turned us into a total winner-take-all class war yet? I'm not sure. I suppose that as every political subculture has its own forms of rationality (my own included), a smart man like Kobach has probably simply socialized himself to believe--thanks in addition to a heavy degree of Constitutional fetishism, I suspect--that certain cohorts of American voters have a proper understanding of government, and other cohorts don't; consequently, right-thinking Americans need to slow the legal assimilation of the bad cohorts as much as possible, with voter restrictions above and beyond what the federal government had settled upon decades ago being just one tool to do so. He really doesn't strike me as at all motivated by an economic dog-eat-dog mentality. Maybe he's just responding this way because his perceptions were poisoned by a bunch of crusading Harvard liberals whom he decided (perhaps justly, perhaps not) were full of hate for white people like him? Who knows. Either way, here he is, saying what he does, and I continue to find it rather hard to apologize for.

Withywindle said...

If you do not recognize the amnesty as legal or constitutional, as I do not, then the amnestied are neither fellow American citizens nor fellow American voters. They are foreigners whose spurious votes perpetuate, but do not legitimate, the new regime.

Withywindle said...

When they progress from illegal permanent residents to illegal citizens, I should say.

Russell Arben Fox said...


If you do not recognize the amnesty as legal or constitutional, as I do not...

Well, we obviously differ right there, as I differ from Secretary Kobach as well. I regard the president's action as legal but not constitutional (which is a distinction I need to write a post about, hopefully tomorrow).

[T]he amnestied are neither fellow American citizens nor fellow American voters. They are foreigners whose spurious votes perpetuate, but do not legitimate, the new regime....When they progress from illegal permanent residents to illegal citizens, I should say.

I'm not sure who you think "the amnestised" are, as President Obama's executive order provides no path to citizenship; if anything, it provides backhand support for the creation of permanent second-class citizenship. But given that facts on the ground frequently control future political options, let's let that pass. Overall, if you reject the legality of President Obama's actions, as I do not, and as I'm sure Secretary Kobach does, then of course you're correct: the "amnestised" can neither be called citizens nor voters. But if so, someone ought to contact Kobach's office, since he speaks of "newly legalized aliens," while your whole point is, I assume, that what keeps these aliens "aliens" is that their legalization, whenever or however they spuriously received it, isn't actually legal. Which means they aren't actually legalized at all.

(Incidentally: you think their votes will be for the "new regime"? What's new about it? Do you actually believe that Obama's unconstitutional actions have created a political context entirely different from the one which Bush operated in, and indeed all presidents for the past 40 years or so, if not more? Come on, Withy, you're smarter than that.)

Withywindle said...

I aspire to continue the tradition of Alfonso el Sabio and James VI and I; who but me to be the most learned fool in Christendom?

To separate out various issues:

1) I take constitutionality as prior to legality; where constitutionality is absent, so is legality.

2) I have been ranting on my blog, but I take this as action as a tipping point between a constitutional regime grievously distorted by engorgements of arbitrary power and a regime so dependent on arbitrary power as no longer to be constitutional. I no longer recognize its enactments as constitutional or lawful; it no longer possesses my allegiance.

3) I do actually think that this executive lawmaking is different in kind from what has gone before, but, as I said, it is a tipping point rather than an unprecedented change. My exempla of previous arbitrary actions, partisanly enough, focus more on abortion, gay marriage, the executive actions necessary to maintain ObamaCare from collapse, etc., but I now have no partisan desire to minimize the damage done by the metastasis of the national security state, or whatever else you choose to ascribe to conservatives, Republicans, etc. (Yes, the first two of those are judicial arbitrary actions; the point is the damage to the constitution of arbitrary action of all sorts.) We were barely constitutional before this point; now we are not.

4) I do take the inevitable ascription of civic status to illegally amnestied aliens, by further illegal enactment, as destructive of the American nation, but that is a separate issue. Their presence legally, much less their eventual gift of the hollow name of citizen, is a result of the collapse of the Republic, not (save as an occasion) the cause.

Withywindle said...

Their presence period the occasion, i should say.