U.S. Representative Adam Smith went unchallenged in this week’s Democratic primary in Washington’s 9th congressional district. However, there remains a challenge from the left that Smith must deal with before he can win re-election this November. Green Party candidate Roy Olson gained thousands of votes this week, enough to make the difference in the general election – if Congressman Smith doesn’t effectively shore up his progressive voter base.
Roy Olson has chosen the issue of immigration as a way of differentiating himself from Representative Smith. Olson writes,
“I want to discuss immigrants. Immigrants are not the problem. Immigrants built this country, and it is a shame that they have historically become scapegoats in difficult economic times, such as we are experiencing now… Misguided policies are the problem. We have 12 million unauthorized immigrants who are “home” right here. Before the U.S. exported its worst jobs, immigrants and Americans were doing those jobs. The U.S. also exported good jobs. Let’s bring back those jobs. The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which subverts the function of government for the benefit of global corporations, is a disastrous experiment that has caused damage to millions of people in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. Global corporations used NAFTA to eliminate American jobs, force people in Mexico off their land, and raise the price of food in Mexico. Running to the U.S. without a visa should not be the capital offense it has become.
In the absence of criminal enterprises, unauthorized immigrants are no greater problem than corporate polluters. Those who are caught get a slap on the wrist, the price of doing business.
We do not need more guns and fences at the border. This approach, together with the failed War on Drugs, has created business opportunities for criminals, who smuggle people and drugs across the border. There is a substantial amount of collateral damage as a result of the militarization of the border and these criminal enterprises.”
There’s a catch with this strategy of Olson’s: Congressman Smith hasn’t made the immigration scare a major part of his own campaign. Smith isn’t heavily engaged in the hype about border security. It’s great that Olson is seeking to bring a dose of reality to the discussion about immigration, but in terms of electoral politics, it’s an approach that may not move his candidacy forward very far.