Did you think the Republican Party had cornered the market on racism, nativism and ethnic demagoguery? If so, think again.
That is the GOP's modus operandi when it comes to the immigration issue. In an ugly trend that started in the Southwest in the 1990s but has now moved on to the South and Midwest, Republicans have learned to scare up votes by exploiting fear of changing demographics and the anxiety that many Americans have about an "invasion" of illegal immigrants across the U.S.-Mexico border.
But this fear of foreigners has proven just effective enough that Democrats are now borrowing the GOP's playbook to advance their own causes.
Here's the difference: The voters who fear-mongering Democrats want to manipulate aren't so much afraid of what worries many conservatives -- that immigrants are supposedly lowering our standard of living, changing the country's complexion and weakening our sense of national identity. They're more afraid that foreign workers -- either here in the United States or even in their home countries -- are going to take their jobs, lower wages, or prove so attractive to companies and factories that jobs go overseas.
In other words, the fears aren't cultural; they're economic. But the way that Democrats exploit those fears is still the same: racism, nativism and ethnic demagoguery.
Which takes us to Kentucky, where a super PAC allied with Democrats recently took the low road in attacking its No. 1 Republican target: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
In a juvenile and insulting display, Progress Kentucky recently resorted to anti-Chinese fear mongering to stir public resentment against McConnell. The goal might be to soften up the Republican a bit before his 2014 re-election campaign, where he could find himself running against Hollywood actress Ashley Judd.
Politics is about finding your opponent's soft spot and then pounding away at it like Joe Frazier. Progress Kentucky thinks that McConnell's soft spot is that he has -- gasp! -- an Asian-American wife, who happens to be former Labor Secretary Elaine Chao.
The group has been pounding away at this absurd idea that McConnell's wife's ethnic heritage (Chao was born in Taiwan and came to the United States with her family when she was 8 years old) has led him to support outsourcing jobs to -- wait for it, wait for it -- China.
In a February 14 tweet that was "re-tweeted" several times, Progress Kentucky said this about Chao: