I have seen little in the mainstream media about the warm welcome that President Obama is getting in many Latino communities. Here is one rare msnbc story about his appearance on Univision’s very popular “Piolin por la Manana” radio show today. (H/T: dailykos diarist here) It is revealing:
President Obama discussed immigration reform, health care, and the economy . . . part of a White House effort to drive turnout among Latino voters. … After a glowing introduction that incorporated clips from past Obama speeches, Sotelo joked that he would give the president a choice of topics to talk about it: A) immigration reform, B) immigration reform, C) immigration reform, or D) all of the above. He went on to say that many Hispanics were “disappointed” that the president had not been able to get comprehensive immigration reform legislation passed.
The president said he, too, was disappointed, but that he needed more Republican support to pass a bill, a common refrain from a White House that struggled to get major legislation — like the health-care overhaul — through the Senate despite having a majority. “I have not backed off this issue,” Obama said.
These heavy political pressures from Latino voters and media analysts of color are relatively new in our political system. In our rather undemocratic system, political party candidates and officials, including presidents, usually have to work with and please the underlying “investor” business blocs that really control our major parties. (See the excellent “investment theory of party politics” of political scientist Thomas Ferguson here).
The Democratic Party is actually not controlled by unions, voters of color, or white women, as is often assumed in the mass media and electorate. It is actually controlled — on most matters — by key business blocs (as is the Republican Party), which is why President Obama has made so many decisions favoring Wall Street financial corporations and other big businesses.
On immigration issues, President Obama is caught between these pressures from Latinos and other Americans who want a liberal and facilitative educational policy (including the Dream Act)–who in this case are partially joined by many employers who seek low-wage immigrant labor–and the majority-white, often middle-class voters, many politicians, and some business officials opposed to this Latino immigration.