Friday, October 20, 2006

Why is the GOP Abandoning Tan Nguyen?

Speaking of betrayals by one's political party (see the previous post), the Los Angeles Times reports today that Orange County Republican leaders have ditched Tan Nguyen, a Congressional candidate running against incumbent Democratic Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez. What was Mr. Nguyen's crime? Was he found to have sold votes to campaign donors? Was he found to have sexually harrassed Congressional pages? No, his unforegiveable crime is that his campaign sent out a letter in Spanish that said in part: ""You are advised that if your residence in this country is illegal or you are an immigrant, voting in a federal election is a crime that could result in jail time…."

And the problem with that statement is, what? The last time I checked, it was voter fraud and a violation of federal law for an illegal immigrant or alien to vote in a federal election. True, the word "illegal" should appear before the word "immigrant" as well, but I have not seen the original Spanish version of the letter, and it is possible that the L.A. Times has creatively translated it.

The L.A. Times article further states, "The episode was a jarring reminder of what some observers call Orange County's history of xenophobia and voter intimidation, an ugly distinction that Republican leaders say they've tried hard to bury." Are we to seriously entertain the argument that the Tan Nguyen campaign, whose candidate is himself an immigrant from Vietnam, is xenophobic? Give me a break.

All this at a time when voter fraud, including voting by non-citizens, has become a major issue, and attempts by the States to stop it are fought by the Democrats by any means necessary. Witness today's Supreme Court decision, which allowed Arizona to proceed with a policy of requiring photo i.d. from voters in the upcoming November 7 election. The Democrats literally went to the Supreme Court to try to stop implementation of the Arizona law, as they had previously used litigation to defeat the application of similar laws in Georgia and Missouri. What is the principled argument against such laws? And what is the principle behind the abandonment of Tan Nguyen by the spineless GOP leadership in Orange County?

If I am missing something here, readers, please let me know.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

No, the word "illegal" should NOT have appeared again in front of "immigrant". Somebody who is still an immigrant (not a citizen) is not allowed to vote, even if his/her residence in the country is legitimate and he/she pays taxes.

Up to the 50's, many states required voters to pass a citizenship test. The 1960's Voting Rights Act abolished tests which had been abused by Southern states to stop blacks from voting.

There is a CRUCIAL DIFFERENCE between Southern Blacks in the 1960's and naturalized citizens in 2006: naturalized immigrants DID have to pass a citizenship test, and accordingly KNOW that they are entitled to vote.

Given that California's "motor voter" form is deliberately designed to downplay the requirement that only CITIZENS can vote, a written reminder is both appropriate and lawful.


Posted by Ben Gurion

Saturday, October 21, 2006 1:37:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"appropriate and lawful"

Nguyen's letter was neither. First, there is a HUGE effect of removing the word "illegal" from before the word "immigrant" - it is neither inconsequential nor accidental. Nguyen knew he could not win in a heavily Hispanic district, against a 5-time incumbent, supported by an increasingly distrusted political party. He knew this, and he knew that his only chance to win was a low Hispanic turnout on election day. He will now have neither the former nor the latter. This is the crux of what Conservatives always wanted - free market decision-making. Whether Nguyen's actions were legal or not, they are considered by the people, by the market, to be unacceptable, and he will lose accordingly. Who knew - maybe there's something to this "Invisible Hand" business.


Posted by Ian Rose

Saturday, October 21, 2006 4:23:00 PM  
Blogger The Kosher Hedgehog said...

Ben Gurion's observation about the meaning of the word "immigrant" underscores why the GOP overreacted. As a matter of dictionary definition, I believe Ben Gurion is incorrect--a naturalized citizen is still an immigrant. But the very fact that he interpreted the Spanish letter in that manner would seem to prove that the intended meaning is ambiguous. The writer may have indeed intended the meaning that Ben Gurion ascribes the the word "immigrant," in which case, as I wrote in my main post, I find the letter unobjectionable.

I would like Ian Rose to explain why the letter is not lawful. Presumably he means that the letter violated the Voting Rights Act. But does it violate that law to discourage non-citizens from attempting to vote illegally? I have no objection to the invisible hand of the free market operating in elections, provided that we limit the "consumers" in the marketplace to registered voters who in fact are legally entitled to vote in the elections, in other words, citizens of the United States.

Posted by The Kosher Hedgehog

Sunday, October 22, 2006 11:33:00 PM  
Blogger Harold C. Hutchison said...

The letter was sent to only Hispanics and in Spanish. That's targeting people - and quite frankly, it makes me feel sick to see it.

Granted, I think we should only use English for ballots in our elections. I think that only citizens (naturalized or natural-born) should be voting.

But stuff like this - or Border Patrol agents shooting people in the back and covering it up - won't help solve the problems of illegal immigration. 

Posted by Harold C. Hutchison

Monday, October 23, 2006 9:16:00 AM  
Blogger The Kosher Hedgehog said...

Harold, with all due respect to a loyal Hedgehog reader and commentator, one cannot fairly equate or even compare a Border Patrol officer shooting a person in the back and covering it up with this letter. The first act is murder and concealment of a felony--two serious crimes. The second is an attempt, however ill-conceived, to prevent a crime--voter fraud--and may itself not be illegal. As for the choice of language, the fact of the matter is that the vast number of non-citizens who might try to vote in the Tan-Nguyen election will be native Spanish speakers. The letter is indeed targeting an ethnic group, but it is the ethnic group where the problem of unlawful voter registration and illegal voting is mostly found.

Having said that, I became aware this morning that the letter in question went out over the signature of a fictional person--an Hispanic name--and the letterhead of a fictional organization. That suggests a guilty mind, and is cowardly at best--the writer should have had the courage of his or her convictions.


Posted by The Kosher Hedgehog

Monday, October 23, 2006 11:49:00 AM  
Anonymous But Tre said...

Dear Mr. Tan Nguyen,

Your letter to the 14,000 Latino registered voters is nothing but a cheap shot with the intention to intimidate the recipients to stay home. When your hand was caught in the cookies jar, you tried to come up with a lame excuse and blamed it on the translator, the media, your opponent, the political parties, and everyone else instead of taking the responsibility yourself.

According to professor Roberto Ignacio Diaz, chair of the Spanish and Portuguese department at the University of Southern California: "The word 'emigrado' in this usage has to mean immigrant. It can't mean anything else" . I trust that Professor Diaz knows more about Spanish and its usage than you, your staff, or the media ever would, Mr. Tan Nguyen.

By the way, how would you react if Ms. Sanchez, your opponent, sent a letter similar to yours to the registered Vietnamese voters?

In your press release, you asked "What is going on? And who is fueling this hysteria?".

The answer is: It's the democratic process that's going on; it's the foundation for democracy that's going on; and it's the intolerance of voters intimidation that's going on. And you, sir, just need to look in the mirror to see who is fueling this hysteria.

Sir, you are a disgrace to the Viet community. Or to use your slogan "Not afraid to tell it like it is", you are as stinky as horse manure in this race.

Bút Tre
A Vietnamese American, an "emigrado", and a US Citizen  

Posted by But Tre

Tuesday, October 24, 2006 4:31:00 PM  

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