Sunday, October 10, 2004

Immigrant Paranoia II

In Mark Hyman’s ongoing rhetorical jihad against “illegal immigrants” (a term that in his thesaurus seems interchangeable with “poor Hispanics”), Hyman plays the scare tactic of illegal immigrants voting en masse thanks to motor voter legislation.

According to Hyman’s reasoning, hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants are lining up to vote in order “take away your rights” (i.e., the rights of white people).

How illegal immigrants could ever vote to take away “your” rights is something Hyman doesn’t bother to explain, since there’s no conceivable way it could happen. In fact, the whole paranoia about illegal immigrants flocking both register and then vote is based on paranoid fantasies (as this essay from, an organization devoted to fostering greater voter enfranchisement and participation, points out). It’s completely unrealistic to expect that illegal immigrants are going to voluntarily register themselves with the government in order to vote. The risks outweigh any conceivable benefit.

That matters little to Hyman, who traffics in fear, primarily (one assumes) because he, like many arch-conservatives, believes that encouraging people to vote is bad for Republicans. Hyman’s not worried that poor illegal immigrants will vote; he’s worried that poor, non-white, Americans will vote in greater numbers. Folks like Hyman pine for the days when tortuous and illegal procedures were put in place to systematically disenfranchise minority voters. Let's remember that Hyman recently equated illegal immigrants to terrorists recently equated illegal immigrants to terrorists. Fortunately, some more realistic Republicans, such as Senator Mark Hatfield of Oregon, have said that the fear of voter fraud is a “red herring” in the debate about “motor voter” legislation.

The odd part about is that there’s actually little to no reason for Hyman to get his shorts in a bunch over the increase in registration. As former President Jimmy Carter notes in a lucid essay on the need for easy registration, there are no studies that suggest the increased registration, and hence increased voting, will automatically help the Democratic party.

But then again, this would require Hyman to actually look at facts, and we know that’s not going to happen.

And that’s The Counterpoint.


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