Conservatives argue that black people should oppose amnesty for illegal immigrants, since immigrants can be expected to take low-wage jobs from black people. The WSJ's editorial page says that minorities should oppose a minimum wage hike, because it will end up costing them jobs. (They treat this as a simple economic fact, which it is not.) There's nothing like the hint of a new liberal policy to cause widespread concern for the welfare of poor minorities among Republicans.

It should go without saying that a higher minimum wage will help poor people. And it should go without saying that people who have historically been discriminated against, and who have had to fight for their own civil right in America, should be particularly predisposed to support civil rights for other members of the current underclass, like immigrants. And, of course, it should go without saying that if the sorts of people who are ideologically aligned with the National Review and the WSJ editorial page genuinely cared about improving the welfare of poor people and minorities, they would be clamoring for the government to institute measure to reduce economic and social inequality in this nation—in other words, they would not be ideologically aligned with those outlets in the first place.

(Sadly, these things do not, in fact, go without saying.)

Usually, watching Republicans trot out their own heartfelt proclamations of their commitment to civil rights and equality is just a mild comic interlude, like when the conservative white Congressman from the suburbs has to give a few awkward remarks at the annual Martin Luther King Jr. day breakfast. But when it becomes a transparently false excuse to oppose policies designed to help the very people that Republicans are purporting to care about, it becomes something more repulsive. The dead giveaway here is that while social and economic conservatives will rush to speak up against proposals like amnesty for immigrants and raising the minimum wage—ostensibly because they believe those policies would hurt the poor and marginalized people they care so much about—there is no rush at all on their part to make alternate proposals that will actually help these people. So: don't offer amnesty to immigrants, because that would take jobs away from black people, and don't raise the minimum wage, because that would make it harder for minorities to get jobs—but also, do not support a highly progressive system of taxes, and do not raise taxes on the wealthy, and do not support any type of preferential hiring or admissions for member of marginalized demographics, and do not support public health care, and in general do not support any government programs of any sort designed to mitigate the social and economic inequality that runs rampant in America.

"We are staunchly opposed to anything at all that might help you," Republicans say to the poor, "and we're here to tell you that these policies that you should clearly support will actually not help you. Trust us. Nobody knows as much about not helping you as we do."

America's biggest unions are preparing to throw their weight behind immigration reform, with an eye towards organizing a new generation of immigrant citizens. This is an example of people working together in a mutually beneficial manner. Unions need members. They can use their political influence to help pass immigration reform. People who came to America illegally can become citizens. They can organize. Their presence will make unions stronger. These stronger unions will be in a better position to actually help these new members—as well as those who are already members. The working class, of all races. These stronger unions will help support political candidates who favor measures that help working class people. Measures like immigration reform, and raising the minimum wage.

This is an example of a political plan that actually benefits poor people, and minorities, and immigrants. The Republican opposition to these measures is an example of a patronizing attempt to protect the interests of the overclass by tricking the underclass into voting against itself. All that post-election soul-searching by the "New Republican Party" is not producing very impressive results so far.

[Photo: AP]