"Honestly, I thought that our politics could not get worse," says E.J. Dionne Jr. in The Washington Post. But the Republican Party's attack on illegal immigrants has taken Washington's "election-year ugliness" to a new low. Even "reasonable conservatives," who once championed comprehensive immigration reform, are now railing against so-called anchor babies (what a "hideous term"). It was the famously moderate Graham who gave momentum to the idea of repealing the 14th Amendment's guarantee of citizenship to "all persons born or naturalized in the United States." The 14th Amendment is part of the Republicans' "greatest political legacy," and they're on the verge of throwing it away just to win a few votes. Here, an excerpt:

Nothing should make Republicans prouder than their party's role in passing what are known as the Civil War or Reconstruction amendments: the 13th, ending slavery; the 14th, guaranteeing equal protection under the law and establishing national standards for citizenship; and the 15th, protecting the right to vote. In those days, Democrats were the racial demagogues.

Opponents of the 14th Amendment used racist arguments against immigrants to try to kill it ... President Andrew Johnson played the card aggressively: "This provision comprehends the Chinese of the Pacific States, Indians subject to taxation, the people called Gipsies, as well as the entire race designated as blacks, ..." Johnson declared. "Is it sound policy to make our entire colored population and all other excepted classes citizens of the United States?"

The methods of politics don't change much, even if the targets of demagoguery do.

Read the full article at The Washington Post.