Sunday, May 21, 2006

OK, But Who's "We?"

Got home from church today, and went upstairs to change into my usual weekend grunge and turned on the tube, as is my wont. Some weeks, you can see the F1 race rebroadcast on the Speed Channel. This wasn't one of those weeks. However, on my PBS affiliate, I caught the rebroadcast of The McLaughlin Group. Yes, I know -- it's a profoundly guilty pleasure, and probably more than a little perverse, too. Mostly, I just like to see Tony Blankley Of The Thousand Dancing Chins and remind myself that, when the "Find the Fattest Chickenhawk" contest is announced, I have my winning horse all picked out in advance.

But, anyway ...

There I was, hanging my good shirt back up, and the folks of the Group were talking about Topic A, which was illegal Mexicans. I can't really provide quotes, since the Group's website doesn't have a transcript posted quite yet. But the Main Man, Big John, was saying that the illegals must be allowed to stay, because when they came here, "we welcomed them," meaning that they got jobs, health care in the emergency rooms, places in the government schools, and so on; it would be unsporting and inconsistent if "we" changed "our" minds now and un-welcomed the illegals. Eleanor Clift was quick to agree with him. After all, she said (approximately), "they" have mowed "our" grass, cleaned "our" houses, raised "our" children.

And I thought -- not for the first time: Who's "we?"

This is illustrative of the ultimate hopelessness of politics. It's just too easy to say things that don't make any sense. People -- even great big smart famous people who are in McLaughin Groups -- talk about three hundred million people as if they shared a single set of interests and motivations. We do this, we do that, something-or-other is in our best interest: as if the condition of residing within the same vast arbitrary boundaries makes one person of us all. Sure, some Americans welcome -- perhaps "import" is a more-accurate term -- undocumented Mexicans into the U.S. Some Americans have an economic interest in employing people who are anxious to work for very low wages, and who are in a highly-unfavorable position from which to complain about poor working conditions, safety, excessive hours, or much of anything else. These American employers range from produce operators in California's Imperial Valley to the proprietors of third-tier automotive suppliers in northeast Indiana to ... well, maybe to McLaughlin groupies who prefer housekeepers, pool boys, and nannies who work cheap and are eager to please. I just don't believe that any large fraction, let alone a majority, of Americans are part of this group or share their interests. When I want my grass cut, I reach for the mower and the gas can, not the Spanish phrasebook ... and I don't think I'm untypical in this respect.

Any time you see Eleanor Clift and Big John McLaughlin agreeing on something like this, it means the left-right paradigm isn't a useful way to analyze the political implications. I don't want to sound like a Marxist here, but a class analysis is more revealing. More on that later.


Craig said...

The funny thing about Big Tony is that when I hear him on NPR I don't dislike him so much. But seeing him and hearing him is another thing.

Does that make me a bad person?

Oh yeah, they showed the rerun of the Spanish Grand Prix last night. Alonso won again.

lemming said...

Illigal immigrants do not mow my grass, nanny my children or dig my ditches, but they do pick the food I eat.

Grace said...

Well, whoever comprises this "we" group sure seems to get all the tax breaks too. Lots of air time on radio and TV. Lots of column inches in the newspapers and magazines. And they keep getting media access no matter how wrong, wrong, wrong their analyses have been and always are.

Judging by the average age and collective cholesterol levels of the panelists on The McLaughlin Group, though, this particular set of weebils is a dying breed.

Bartleby said...

Craig: thanks for the update. Alonso's doing pretty well again this year, isn't he?

Lemming: True. But if they didn't (pick your food), then I suppose Americans would. The food would cost more. But somehow, cheap food provided by a system in which laborers aren't paid a living wage doesn't seem quite right, does it?

Grace: Very true. But, judging by the pack of youthful pinheads who've been left in charge of the National Review, I don't think there's much hope that the species is endangered. They may have coronaries and strokes, but very few of them are in any danger of being killed in their wonderful wars -- and they always manage to spawn before getting seriously to work on a good crop of arterial placque.