A particularly vile “great replacement” rant that Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R) unleashed on Fox News opens a window on all of this.
“The revolution has begun,” Patrick told host Laura Ingraham. Speaking about the president, Patrick added: “A silent revolution by the Democrat Party and Joe Biden to take over the country.”
Patrick blasted the Biden administration for “allowing” in one or two million migrants this year. In 18 years, Patrick railed, if “every one of them has two or three children, you’re talking about millions and millions and millions of new voters.”
“Who do you think they are going to vote for?” Patrick seethed. “So this is trying to take over our country without firing a shot.” Patrick added this flouted the Constitution’s guarantee of republican government and protection against “invasion.”
The specific situation triggering Patrick is that thousands of Haitian migrants have crossed the Rio Grande, creating an emergency for federal officials. The administration has extended temporary protected status to migrants from Haiti amid an earthquake and political upheaval there, so they may not be expelled.
Patrick says this decision, and the broader “allowing” of millions to cross the border, are fundamental threats to republican government. He says this is a scheme to import people who will have children — and become citizens — who will inevitably vote Democratic, further threatening self-rule.
This is more than just loathsome demagoguery. It’s also an argument about democracy itself.
Patrick’s ludicrous nonsense
Biden has the authority to grant temporary protected status because our democratically elected representatives in Congress gave the president that authority, to designate countries as recipients of this status due to wars, disasters, or other extraordinary conditions.
Similarly, we “allow” people to seek asylum here because our elected representatives passed a law requiring it, to bring us in line with international human rights obligations.
As a substantive matter, Patrick’s claims are ludicrous. In his rant, he accidentally tells the truth when he notes that those millions of migrants are being “apprehended,” as opposed to being released. And that’s happening because migrants who cross the border have the legal right to seek asylum in the U.S., a right created — again — by our democratically elected representatives.
If anything, the Biden administration is largely reneging on that right. Huge numbers of those being apprehended are being expelled under the Title 42 covid-19 health rule, without due process. Patrick is grotesquely distorting the real meaning of “apprehension” numbers.
That aside, the core point here is that allowing migrants to seek asylum and granting them protected status — and providing them with ultimate paths to citizenship and even opening up other channels for legal immigration — are perfectly compatible with self rule. They are decisions the polity has made, via democratically elected representatives, about whether and how to admit outsiders as potential future members.
All that should be obvious, but these fundamentals are precisely what people like Patrick reject. When Tucker Carlson stirred his own “great replacement” controversy, it underscored the point: Carlson suggested the act of allowing legal immigration itself undermines the nation’s democratic character.
A deranged vision
All this amounts to a suggestion that allowing in outsiders democratically cannot be legitimate by definition. Patrick, Carlson and their ilk are advancing a deranged vision of democratic self rule that wouldn’t permit the polity to decide democratically to allow in outsiders as members or to provide refuge to the persecuted. That’s not democratic. That’s not self-rule.
Some would respond that when undocumented immigrants gain legalization after entering and/or staying illegally, it does have undemocratic implications. This does raise complex questions, but ultimately, if our elected representatives decide legalizing them is in the national interest, that’s compatible with democracy. When the children of the undocumented or of people granted asylum get citizenship — which so enrages Patrick — it’s because the Constitution grants it.
That’s because such bad actors routinely employ hallucinatory depictions of Apocalyptic threats supposedly posed to their cagey version of the “nation” by liberals and Democrats, which are then used to justify the most maximally anti-democratic tactics. The left is out to replace and destroy you, so anything goes in response, even subverting our democratic order if necessary.
The “great replacement” nonsense is yet another example of exactly that sort of derangement, and this mental habit is becoming dogma in the GOP. Which makes it particularly despicable that in pushing it, Patrick piously pretends to stand for democratic values.