Congressman, Dave Brat (VA-7th District), recently met with inmates to talk about their problems with drug addiction. In an amazing tone-deaf comment, he told them he doesn’t have an easy life either, citing attack ads as he campaigns for a third term. Brat is a poster boy for the lack of empathy Republican office holders show these days. Brat’s opponent, Abigail Spanberger, a former CIA officer, is calling him out and stressing the real needs of this semi-rural district. This race has moved from Leaning Republican to a Toss Up.
The District’s voters remain concerned that Brat is fully on board with the administration’s misrepresentation of America’s great immigrant tradition. Both Brat and Trump have declared that foreign nationals who entered the United States are “public enemy number one.” Brat misrepresents the reality that the law differentiates among various categories of people who present themselves at the border and tars all with the brush of illegal border crossers, whether they have visas or valid asylum claims, such as those who come from places like China, Central America, Nepal and the Horn of Africa. They each want to hunt down and deport these “menaces.”
Brat has no problem with the administration policy to tear families apart at the border and now thousands of youth and children are housed in temporary concentration camps all over the county. The Administration plans to expand the “Family Destruction Program” ” to even more categories of immigrants and border crossers. The objective is to eliminate border crossers by making the U.S. appear as cruel and unattractive as the circumstances in the failing states of Central America. Thus, America needs to look more inhumane than the gang violence in, say, Honduras.
Of course, Brat and other members of the minority Freedom Caucus are wedded to the misrepresentation that immigrants take jobs away from Americans. I am assured, however, that no one in our local high school is studying to work in a pig slaughterhouse, or the farm fields of the hot and humid south, or as crab meat pickers around the Chesapeake Bay. In fact, time and time again, when local jurisdictions drive off migrant workers, food is left to rot in the fields.
Recently, Brat has taken his anti-immigrant rhetoric to the next level. In an Associated Press interview on the shrinking availability of migrant labor, Brat wholeheartedly concurred with the Administration’s goal of drastically continuing to reduce the number of immigrants. Brat said he did not think the current labor shortage would weaken efforts to restrict immigration.
Citing that about 10 million Americans are not in the labor force, Brat called for improved education and imposing work requirements on food stamp recipients to get more of these Americans into the workforce. “The answer is not to bring in 10 million folks from abroad,” Brat said. Brat the Cruel argues that if the number of immigrants drop by 10 million, then the 10 million people on welfare can find jobs.
He apparently has no idea who is on welfare: women, children, the disabled. The welfare mother in Grayson County is not the kind of person who could pack up and move to the Chesapeake Bay to start picking crab meat. The child on welfare in Nottaway County cannot drop out of school to start picking apples in Rappahannock County. The disabled man in Culpeper County cannot move to Fairfax County and trim hedges.
Besides being heartless and cruel, Brat has little influence in the House, even if he were interested in representing his district by dealing with health care, exploding government debt, and jobs. Brat may have gone to seminary, but it obviously didn’t stress empathy. The voters are beginning to see the Trump/Brat projection of America the Cruel is not a projection of our better angels. That is why the Democratic challenger Spanberger is gaining considerable traction.
Editor's Note: this op-ed originally appeared in the DailyKOS, and has been re-posted here with the author’s permission.
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