Given that the basic conclusion is that the public is really unhappy with Bush, the Republicans, and the status quo there's something pretty depressing about this Democracy Corps (PDF) strategy memo based on some polls and focus groups. In particular, what's depressing about it is the extent to which independents and other median voter types seem inclined to basically see nefarious foreigners as the root of all our problems. Here participants are asked to name the top two problems facing the country:
Democratic voters, like Democratic politicians, see Iraq and health care as the big issues. But to independents the entrance of too many immigrants into the country is overwhelmingly the top priority. And, indeed, independents see pretty much everything as more important than Iraq. Meanwhile, the text of the memo makes it clear that voters' concerns about illegal immigration, as voiced in focus groups, tend to be founded on the inaccurate perception that illegals are hogging up tons of public services and tend to be focused in rural areas where few immigrants live. Nevertheless, Stan Greenberg and James Carville don't have any particularly creative advice to offer:
But Democrats can get this right – genuinely attacking Bush for losing control of immigration, specifically, failing to manage the borders and no longer enforcing laws at the workplace. Democrats favor greater control and enforcement at the borders and restored penalties on employers for employing illegal workers. They would deny most government benefits, which is current law in almost all cases. Recognizing we can’t expel 12 million workers, Democrats accept some kind of legal status for the those who are working, pay taxes and are law-abiding – putting our values at the heart of the reforms that will further open up our society.
That may be good electoral strategy. Obviously, Republicans will counter by shifting to an even more restrictionist stance. And since the more anti-immigration party will be arguing that illegal immigrants' use of public services is a big problem and the less anti-immigration party will also be arguing that illegal immigrants' use of public services is a big problem, then moderately informed voters are, naturally, going to become even more deeply entrenched in their erroneous conviction that this is a big problem .