Thursday, April 06, 2006

Winning The PR War On Immigration


Congress has been more spineless than usual this week, as many Conservatives have complained. Despite the moral imperative to address Illegal Immigration as a critical National Security and Economic Infrastructure issue, the House and Senate have not managed to put a bill on the President’s desk. In fact, the House, Senate, and White House all seem to be moving towards differing objectives, to say nothing of how the nation’s court system is likely to react to whatever legislation eventually makes its way out into the world. So it is that perverse fate of the universe that seems to grant that the Democrats will gain from this debacle, not through any merit on their part or moral virtue; the Democrats are uniquely malicious towards the notions of protecting the borders or enforcing extant laws regarding citizenship and fraudulent manipulation of our economic and legal system. Yet it is that because the party of reform and ideals seems to be showing little of either at the moment, that the party of pettiness and pandering hopes to gain seats in both Houses, perhaps enough to take over the House or Senate, which result would poison the nation’s course for at least the next two years. As it happens, however, the cause is not yet lost, and the Republicans may yet set things right. Part of that effort, of course, requires the Republicans to start speaking the language of the average American.

When the yappers and whiners finally get tired and leave the discussion to adults, a consensus shows up pretty soon. No one but the criminals thinks we should be granting citizenship to anyone except those who were born here or those who go through the legal system. No shortcuts. No one but the criminals thinks we should give a break to illegals who are already here, as some kind of reward for getting away with it, or to employers who move their business success ahead b breaking the law. After all, you wouldn’t want your builder to ignore the building codes when he builds your house, and you wouldn’t want him to surprise you by dishonestly padding his costs, so it just makes sense to expect him to only hire legitimate workers, that is to say no “undocumented” workers. No one thinks that millions of people pouring through our borders is a good idea, and no one thinks better security is a bad idea. With that in mind, it obviously becomes a matter of how you sell the fix.

The Democrats have learned from the recent past in one respect at least; when you don’t have any ideas, let your opponent hurt himself. With the MSM pushing stories that make the Republicans look incompetent or dishonest, Democrats simply sit there and gain by default. I have been pushing for people to be careful about how they address the issue, because I recognized that the broad attacks against the President have not been helping to resolve the issue or convince Congress to act responsibily, but instead have merely lowered public confidence in the President. False clams about what he intends or has proposed only muddy the waters and make fair examination of his plan that much more difficult. Rabid radicals like Tancredo, who demand perfection now but will not explain the details in their own demands, heighten the tension without any good effect. In the end the noise drowns out better discussion.

President Bush bears some responsibility here, but not in the way he is so commonly attacked. His plans are intelligent and demonstrate a deeper understanding of the causes of this border problem, and he has moved to forestall obstacles being placed by Mexico and other Latin American countries. Yet the common perception is that President Bush either does not understand the issues of Illegal Entrants or worse, sides with them against the American people. While the White House has belatedly begun to corrrect those false claims, other people have allowed the White House to be blamed for their refusal to address the issue, most notably the U.S. Senate. While Senators Kyl and Cornyn have begun to make good suggestions, as a whole the U.S. Senate seems to be in a serious condition of denial.

The problem then for President Bush is not so much that he is on the wrong side of the issue, but that as the Chief Executive of the nation he has not done so well in bringing the teams together in a common effort, and in explaining his priorities and vision to the nation. People sense that Dubya’s on the right road, but the lack of firm details makes it hard to stay on that road with him for many people. This allows Democrats to weasel out of the fact that they either have no alternative to present, or else simply do not wish to control our borders, and it allows egotistical politicians to demagogue the issue and prevent effective discussion of the issue.

The main responsibility, though, lies with the Media. The protests of which the MSM made such commotion, were largely high school and middle school students who saw the protests as a way to get out of school, and urban “progressive” groups which attempt to use any possible issue to attack traditional values and priorities. The MSM tactic of presenting biased polls as news, and manufactured events as some kind of barometer for public commitment, has been shameful and dishonest, and only weakens the already-plastic spine of Congress to address the issue with conviction and resolve. The duty of the New Media, then, begins with correcting the image by providing facts and functional solutions. Whether by radio, blogs, or grassroots politics, the New Media must focus on those whose ideas need highlighting, and whose coordination drives home the argument and which provide solutions. It is not valid for New Media to only make the problem worse by rousing anger and resentment and drowning out calmer voices. Too much of the New Media is copying the tactics of the Old Media, pulling audience response by getting everyone angry, and doing nothing to support the people working to actually move the dialogue forward. This is plain wrong.

There are good ideas out there, some which address the short-term condition and some which address the long-term condition. There is a a consensus which must be the starting pont of all dialogue, and there is a sense of moral responsibility which every member of Congress should be reminded on a regular basis. That challenge faces all of us, not just the suits and the high-profile chuckleheads. And so what happens depends on all of us, not just the convenient blame targets.

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