The immigration debate, for those progressives deeply involved in it, has felt rather like waiting for Godot -- we know our fellow progressives are going to be coming along any day now to join the journey toward effective reform. Still, we sit and sit, checking our watches as the clock ticks down, and we wonder.
So far, the debate has almost entirely revolved around the division between rival factions of the right: the corporate conservatives who have benefited from the status quo and would benefit even more from a "guest worker" program; and the nativist bloc that wants every one of the 12 million "illegal aliens" in America rounded up and "sent back where they came from."
If there is a progressive position, it hasn't been enunciated clearly at all -- which means that there has been precious little advocacy from the left. It's well past time for that to change.
but I nonetheless disagree, at least insofar as the observation pertains to elected officials. 2008 abolutely, positively, has to be won. Stevens is 87 and the Fifth vote on Roe. If the US invades Iran, every possible hope of stemming the violence in Iraq is lost, and a long term troop commitment is inevitable. And we are past the point where long term institutional damage to democracy in the executive branch will be easily reversible.
Immigrant hating is popular. It just is, right now, and the Republican center is willing to be the punching bag about it. This not only provides cover to the democratic candidate, it makes it less likely that the GOP will nominate its most centrist candidates. And since there are very few democratic votes in the Senate against the reform in the first place, and Bush is pressuring his own party, it is very likely that the votes necessary to pass the bill will come from the GOP.
None of this excuses the absence of our involvement in the private sector, and Orcinus' recent posts have been excellent models of cyber-journo-activism on the issue. The breathtaking marches last year did not appear to be imputed to congressional democrats, and probably did much to soften the ultimate bill.