Conservative blogger, John Cole, has an insightful article on immigration being the new wedge issue for the midterm elections.
It is weird because I thought that this was an issue that would just backfire against the Republicans. Hispanics, after all, are not voting â€œtraditionally democratâ€ anymore than Catholics are (I believe the numbers in the last election were 45 for Bush, 55 for Kerry). Driving the largest growing segment against you, especially a segment that normally votes for you on the abortion wedge-issue seems a recipe for pitting border-Republicans (California, Arizona, Texas, Florida) against the rest, in a party that can only survive through nazi-like disciplineâ€”their views, after all, on nearly every issue are in the minority.
But itâ€™s bad to dismiss Right Wing political strategy. I can only assume that theyâ€™ve done the polling and have determined that while a majority of them again are disagree or are indifferent, a number of people like â€œMs. Kitlicaâ€ mentioned in the article will be motivated enough to go to the polls to vote.
Being cognoscenti of hypocrisy
Living in California, you sense this large hypocrisy going on. It is obvious to us that the very people speaking this heavily nativist sentiment (build a wall, kick them out, hunt them down, etc.) are the very same people who depend heavily on illegal labor for their yardwork and crop picking. Any trip to the local Home Depot and the amount of cash business in California done during growing season cross-referenced against that districtâ€™s partisan index gives lie to their anti-immigration rhetoric.
The rest of us, who donâ€™t own a yard or a farm, shrug our shoulders. The problem isnâ€™t an easy one, and the practical solution of holding the employer accountable isnâ€™t going to fly.
Itâ€™s easier to shout about those â€œfucking Mexicans who are too lazy to learn our languageâ€ than it is to find real solutions to a real problem: one of integration of illegal immigrants into our society and to limit the number to a rate at which the country can properly assimilate without a breakdown of social services and order.
The key to the wedge issue is distance
The reality is that it is not important to see how an issue plays out in the area most directly affected by it. Instead, those farthest from an issue are most likely to be driven to be â€œwedgedâ€ away from their normal views based on it.
When attempting to destroy inheritance tax (framed as â€œDeath Taxâ€), the Republicanâ€™s sold us stories about â€œprotecting the family farm.â€ No investigative reporter could find more than a single instance where a family farm was actually repossessed after death under the current law (that single instance was a very special case). Those in the center of the country, who understood inheritance and farming, found the whole thing laughableâ€”they knew that there were already exemptions in place that protected family farms and small businesses. Only the very richest would see any benefit to the new law. And yet, we still went for it.
Washington D.C. and New York City, the two cities hit by terrorism, were the most heavily anti-Bush in the last election. Bush won mostly on â€œterrorism.â€ Did you know that the Bin Laden tape released just before the election alone tipped the election in favor of Bush? Let us be honest about what the most likely targets are for a terrorist attack and check out how they vote on the issue of terrorism.
The â€œgay marriageâ€ issue is a non-issue in every state outside of Massachusetts. In those states where it was the most successful at driving conservatives to the polls to â€œamendâ€ their state constitutions in 2004, can we honestly say that gay marriage was ever an issue?
If you are going to create a wedge issue, people need to have an â€œus-themâ€ mentality and it makes sense that the wedge issue should be sold in an area where your neighbor doesnâ€™t have the facts or experience to contradict your gut reactionâ€”it is much harder to hate â€œgay marriageâ€ when you know some gay couples.
Putting distance between us and the wedge issues: thatâ€™s pretty clever of the Right.