Oh, my God. Liberals. Please. I speak as one of you. What do you want to do, just hand Donald Trump a jewel-encrusted crown and let him skip the election? I thought we wanted to defeat him. Did I have it wrong? Do we just want to get on TV?
The national president of the League of United Latin American Citizens, Domingo Garcia, a Dallas lawyer, former City Council member and former state representative, has been picking up some national press in recent days for slamming Tarrant County Republican Sheriff Bill Waybourn. At a recent Trumpian White House media event, Waybourn made some admittedly not cool remarks about undocumented repeat drunk drivers
“This sheriff needs to resign and apologize for his bigoted comments immediately,” Garcia said in a statement. “It is appalling that a man with a badge and gun like Sheriff Waybourn would make such ignorant and twisted racist statements influenced by his far right-wing ideology.”
OK. But over repeat drunk drivers? Really? And, please, I am not saying repeat drunk drivers do not have rights, including those who may be noncitizens. Of course they do. We can’t just put them up against a wall and shoot them, satisfying as that might be.
But is this the right sword to fall on at this moment? Couldn’t we let the undocumented repeat drunk drivers sort of figure things out for themselves, at least until we get rid of you know who?
Waybourn made his remarks in the context of a bunch of other anti-immigrant, anti-Hispanic dog whistles at a Trump event designed to stir up the white base. I get that. I’m just suggesting that maybe, if we want to win, we need to choose our dog whistles. Running around the yard yapping insanely every time a delivery truck rolls by is not a good look.
And let’s think a lot about looks. Waybourn is a big, bluff, black-shirt, black-Stetson, white-mustache, extremely sheriff-looking guy right out of a John Wayne movie. I fully understand how that image affects us urban liberals. Just looking at him makes me crazy. Every time he’s on TV, I want to go outdoors and run around the yard yapping.
But we need to recognize that, to the Trump base, this guy looks like Jehovah. You think the hat’s an accident? C’mon. He even speaks like Jehovah. At the press event, he said, “These drunks will run over your children, and they will run over my children.”
I’m not sure how words like that really affect even the Trump voters here in Texas. Our lives are very integrated. It’s not merely that a typical Anglo family has dealings with honest, hard-working, Mexican-immigrant workers around the house and in the yard. The family next door or the one just down the street is probably Hispanic; everybody’s kids play together and do sleepovers.
But it’s such great fun for the Trumpies when a bunch of cat-yowling, self-righteous libtards (their terms, not mine) take the bait. It’s a delicious thing when they demand that a guy like Waybourn resign because he maligned drunk drivers. Why on earth even say a thing like that? Talk about setting yourself up. Can there even be a motive?
Maybe. It gets Garcia on TV. Hey, hear me out. Domingo Garcia is an extremely successful, wealthy attorney of a type known in the profession as “billboard lawyer.” You see his handsome, 15-years-out-of-date, glamour-shot photo on buses, billboards and kiosks all over the region. He’s big business. There’s a whole Domingo ecosystem.
I met a lawyer a couple of years ago who was part of a law firm that lives entirely on Garcia’s leavings. Garcia gets so many clients from his advertising, this lawyer explained to me, that he is able to cull the richest cases for his own firm and peddle the thinner gruel to others.
I must say here that Garcia also has a lifelong distinguished career as an activist champion of Hispanic rights. In the Texas Legislature, for example, he led the way to force Texas public school districts to start giving a damn about how many of their Mexican American kids actually graduate from high school. Before Garcia, that was a new concept, which tells you something.
And as I have suggested already, I don’t think he’s hurting for business. On the other hand, however, a billboard guy is a billboard guy. Publicity is mother’s milk. Maybe jumping on the national networks to stick up for repeat drunk drivers seems like a good idea if it gets you on the national networks.
But when I think about justice and immigration, other causes come to mind. Trump’s door-slam for refugees from terror and oppression, for example. The attempt to strip citizenship from children born in this country, a right sacred to the founders: That leaps to mind as a better banner.
Is it caving, is it collaboration to give the comments about repeat drunk drivers a pass? I guess. Maybe a little. Technically. But let’s face it: Dallas First Baptist firebrand and right-wing pot-stirrer Robert Jeffress is sort of right when he describes the nation’s current political climate as close to civil war. If Jeffress succeeds in getting us liberals to take things seriously, he’s doing us a favor. And in war, you pick your battles. You don’t set yourself up for a pie in the face.
Defending repeat drunk drivers is a major pie in the face. Oh, look at them now, the libtards. They’ve got their skivvies all in a twist because we’re being too mean to the repeat drunk drivers. What next? Sympathy for church arsonists? Equal rights for people who commit financial frauds against senior citizens with dementia?
In his more detailed remarks, Garcia made the point that it is wrong, both morally and in terms of strict accuracy, to connect dots between so-called illegal or undocumented immigration and crime rates. He’s on solid ground with that. Last May, The Marshall Project took data from the Pew Research Center and the FBI to plot the relationship between crime rates in the United States and undocumented immigration. The finding was that when undocumented immigration has gone up, national crime rates have come down slightly.
A person who hasn’t lived near a lot of undocumented immigrants from Mexico might take that as an anomaly, but I don’t think many of us here in Texas would. Most of the time, all we ever see undocumented Mexicans do is go to work, go to church and walk their kids to school.
But bias dies hard. It is strong folklore in Texas, if nothing else, that the state’s roads are crowded with drunken illegals who have no insurance, no driver’s licenses and maybe no identification at all. Republican Congressman Roger Williams made headlines recently by asserting as fact that half of drunk drivers arrested on Interstate 35 through his district are undocumented, 90% of whom have no identification whatever.
But it’s not true. The Austin American-Statesman fact-checked Williams in the paper’s home county of Travis and found no support anywhere for his numbers. The Statesman found instead that only very low percentages of drunk-driving arrests along I-35 involve noncitizens. There was no way to authoritatively establish how many of those noncitizens were in the country without proper documentation.
But you see, those arguments don’t work against the sheriff in the black Stetson. As he quickly pointed out when Garcia came after him, he wasn’t talking about immigrants in general, nor was he talking about undocumented immigrants in general, nor was he even talking about undocumented immigrant drunk drivers in general. He was talking about the repeats.
That gets us down to a pretty fine point, it seems to me. As you can probably tell, I’m all for sticking up for immigrants. I will even stick up for the ones who are here without documentation. Hell, as a die-hard libtard, I’m sure you could get me to stick up for an undocumented immigrant who was in jail for drunk driving. The first time.
But, c’mon, Domingo, give me a break. You’re kind of stretching my neck here. To hang onto my liberal card, I’ve got to go to bat for the ones who keep getting sent back to jail? Listen, I don’t like U.S. citizens who get sent to jail for that. At one point in life I had a dear friend who called me from jail every once in a while. I did my Eleanor Roosevelt voice on the phone and told him that sadly Mr. Schutze was no longer with us. And it wasn’t just the money. I was extremely angry with him for driving drunk. Plus, he thought I was actually Eleanor Roosevelt.
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Now you want the sheriff of Tarrant County, the guy in the Johnny Cash suit, to humbly depart from office because he spoke ill of repeat drunk drivers who are in the country without proper authorization. It’s a highway bridge too far for me.
And that’s not even the point. Are we even thinking about what will happen to this country if Trump gets reelected? Do we not understand how truly dire this is?
What all of that means to me is that we choose our battles carefully; we are mindful of wanting to win them; and we do not say and do things that will make pie targets of us.
In this day and age, maybe being a little bit strategic and cautious means our cause gets on TV less often. I’m sure it means that. Most of the mediasphere has devolved to straight humiliation TV. The price of admission is willingness to humiliate and be humiliated. So if we hit pause on the repeat drunk drivers, maybe they don’t put us on that day. Can’t we wait until tomorrow and talk about the “Dreamers”?