Only one candidate last night used the term “refugee” (Swalwell?). That’s who these immigrants are. GOP talking points instead tell a crime story with immigrants being rapists, job stealers and murderers, the victims are the poor American worker and the heroes are Republicans. The villains are, of course, not only the immigrants but (natch) the Democrats. There’s no room in that story for the concepts of refugee or empathy.
In a refugee story, the refugee is the victim of violence and grinding poverty in their home country. The villains are the Republicans who separate families, cage children and in general treat their fellow human beings with contempt. The refugee frame, however, opens a whole different empathetic conversation that includes what we might do to help those countries (which we had a hand in wrecking), treating these families with decency and dignity as befits moral beings and crafting a better approach to refugees that treats causes not symptoms.
Because Democrats don’t make proper framing of messages part of our culture, only a couple of the 20 managed to speak from within a refugee story, only one explicitly, and we again lost an excellent chance to give voters a new lens with which to look at the situation, and at us.