Major kudos to Howard Dean.  He’s running way out front of lying Ken Mehlman again:

U.S. Democratic Party chief Howard Dean predicted on Saturday that Republicans would make illegal immigrants their new scapegoats during the 2006 elections, and said splintered Democrats were starting to find common ground on the Iraq war.

Dean is making a wonderful frame, one that is well voiced here and on other liberal blogs, and injecting it into the mainstream media. &n

He said Republicans exploited the topic of gay marriage in the 2004 elections with a series of state referendums on the issue, and were at it again with another hot-button social issue in immigration.

“In 2006, it’s going to be immigrants — that’s who he is going to scapegoat next,” Dean said of Bush. “Once again, the Republicans create a problem so they can think to come in and solve it.”

I’m f’ing ecstatic that Dean has the ability to look around the corner, see what the GOP strategy is going to be, and start interfering with that strategy this far out.  By calling out the Republican’s tactics, he gives the Democrats a chance to continue pointing out that the GOP way is divide and conquer and they don’t give a crap what tool they use to accomplish that.

Dean offered an alternative to Bush’s guest worker proposal:

President Bush has urged Congress to let illegal immigrants get three-year work visas that could be extended for an additional three years. Then, they would have to return home for a year to apply for a new work permit.

Dean said the government should have an “earned legalization” program in which immigrants who contribute to society and pay taxes should be able to earn the right to become citizens.

The DNC chairman also criticized Bush for not working with Mexico to confront America’s immigration problems. “Work with Mexico to improve economies in rural America and rural Mexico, and you will stop the flood of people wanting to come to America,” Dean said.

Dean’s alternative outshines the Bush proposal, by extending the right of citizenship (not merely the watered down quasi citizenship offered by Bush) to those who prove they can be responsible citizens (as an aside, I find the implication that every illegal is unworthy of citizenship just becuase they came here illegally illogical; what about wet feet dry feet, hmm George?)  Bush’s plan offers upheaval and chaos for guest workers every three years and marginal personhood status.  And besides, do we really want to be like Saudi Arabia and Kuwait?

GOP Response?

Republican National Committee spokesman Tucker Bounds said Democrats are out of touch with voters on border security.

“Dean’s blatant mischaracterization of Bush’s agenda is his best effort to mask the Democrats’ unmistakable lack of a plan and any connection with voters on issues that matter,” Bounds said.

Notice the conflation of immigration issues with border security?  Dean didn’t say a damn thing about border security, the topic was immigration.  The GOP is working to employ the weak on law and order frame on the Dems.  Don’t let ’em do it.

Thanks Howard.  Keep up the good work.

Update [2005-12-4 12:50:32 by lapin]:More from this morning’s WaPo

Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean offered a preview of the 2006 elections Saturday with a critique of President Bush’s policies on Iraq and immigration and the Republicans’ ethics scandals. But he warned Democrats they cannot expect to win next year without offering an agenda of their own.

Speaking to the fall meeting of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), Dean pledged Democrats would offer tax policies aimed at middle-class voters, a plan to provide health insurance to all Americans, immigration proposals that offer a path to legalization for illegal immigrants and defense policies that would protect the nation and expose the “hollow promises” of the Bush administration.

The Democratic meeting came at a time of growing confidence within the party that 2006 could bring significant gains in Congress and the statehouses because of Bush’s low approval ratings and public anxiety about Iraq.

But Dean said those conditions alone are not sufficient to produce Democratic victories. “The collapse of confidence in the Republican leadership is not enough to elect Democratic leadership. We have to stand up for what we believe.”

I’m sure very few of us here would have any trouble speaking our minds in a public forum; I hope Dean’s statements will help give courage to those who may have felt cowed in the past and held back their views. Now we need our Congressional Dem leadership to develop a consistent message that coordinates with the DNC’s and start broadcasting that message clearly and often.

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