PALABRA DE ODIO, NEW MEXICO — Clem O’Connor, 52, describes himself as a “dyed in the wool” conservative Republican. He voted for George W. Bush twice and once each for John McCain — though he says that was “mainly ’cause of Sarah Palin on the undercard” — and Mitt Romney. The one subject he feels most strongly about is immigration reform. On that subject, like many conservative Republicans, Mr. O’Connor believes that border security and deportation are the two steps America must take to fix its broken immigration system, and he respects candidates who understand that, while disregarding any who give undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship, which is why he was “just totally confuzzled” about what he saw during the first Democratic Party presidential primary debate of the 2016 election season.
“Not a single mention of self-deportation, not a single mention of building a massive wall, or even of putting up that awesome trebuchet idea that Sen. Cruz had,” Clem told our reporter, adding that it made him “very angry and sad” that an entire political party in America “doesn’t see the Mexican forest for the Mexican trees.” O’Connor said when the subject of immigration came up in the debate, he was extremely upset by the lack of fear mongering and xenophobia displayed in the Democrats’ rhetoric.
O’Connor said he is “not convinced a single Democrat understands the threat” that undocumented workers are to American society. “Oh sure, studies may show they contribute to the economy and open small businesses more than native born Americans,” Clem said, “but what does that mean anyway? As a Republican I love job creators, but only if they come across our imaginary border lines in the completely proper way, no matter how broken the system is, or how long that broken system makes good, honest people wait to come into the country.”
“I just didn’t think it was possible to discuss undocumented immigrants without calling them rapists or murderers,” O’Connor said, “so when I saw everyone on that stage talk about immigrants without saying words like amnesty, or self-deportation, or you know, murderers and rapists and stuff, it didn’t even seem like they were discussing immigration reform at all to my Republican ears.”
O’Connor said that the closest thing he saw to a candidate he’d vote for in the debate was Jim Webb. “When Webb started talking about killing people in the Vietnam War, I won’t lie, I got a little chub on,” Clem said, “but it quickly went away when it became painfully obvious he wasn’t about to take as hard-line a stance on immigrants as he took on the Vietcong.”
“Does no one believe in being unrelentingly suspicious of foreigners and other-types anymore,” Mr. O’Connor asked finally in desperation, “does no American these days remember the rich tradition of looking at immigrants with a raised eyebrow anymore? Hell, my Irish ancestors were treated like utter garbage when they came across the Atlantic, and I take pride in giving today’s immigrants the same amount of disdain and lack of regard for their humanity. It’s the American way.”
Clem paused at that moment, then added, “But clearly it’s not the Democratic way, and that just makes me sad for this once-great nation of ours.”