Unleash YouTube–We’re all Mad Men now: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has announced plans to rush the “Gang of 8” immigration legalization bill to a vote by the end of next week, even though votes on proposed amendments have barely begun. The key cloture votes could come within a few days. Reid’s action is in keeping with the dominant metaphor of the comprehensivist game plane, enunciated in February by a “former senior Bush administration official” who was involved in the failed 2007 amnesty attempt:
“Once you’ve got this thing baked, you’ve got to get it out of the oven and into the refrigerator and start eating it pretty quickly. Because if you let it sit on the table — I’m going to beat the metaphor to death — the ants will start eating the cake up.”
In other words, the more the voters find out about “comprehensive” immgration bills, the less they like and the more they protest.
It’s time for the ants to swing into action. The Gang of 8 bill can still be stopped. But there are not many days left to scare away the fence-sitting senatorial swing votes. Again, it’s not that they don’t know what the issues are. It’s not that they don’t have a pretty good understanding of what the polls say about public opinion (voters are split on the idea of reform, but they overwhelmingly want border enforcement to come first). It’s that they are insufficiently scared that a vote for the Gang’s complicated mess-whatever they think of it–will bring them punishment at the polls.
They need to be scared. Here are two ways to do it:
1. Keep calling. Practically everyone who has worked on Capitol Hill is surprised at how much attention politicians pay to phone calls, emails, faxes and letters. You’d think they’d dismiss these opinionated constituents as cranks, a small minority of the voting public. They do not. They take them very seriously, in part because politicians tend to be paranoids who worry obsessively about losing. If they weren’t always worrying they’d probably never have made it to Washington. Any amount of voter anger contains the seeds of defeat.
Here is the Senate phone contact list. Here is the House list. Your elected representatives want to hear your views on the Schumer-Rubio Legalization First bill (S.744)! Be polite–you don’t want to get their backs up. If the aides to whom you talk are testy in return, you’ll know you’re making progress. … P.S.: It’s OK to call swing senators even if they are not your senators. The Senate is supposed to represent the interests of the entire nation. And you can work for or against a senator even if he or she is in another state. Just don’t expect the aides who answer the phone to be as solicitous.
2. Make a video campaign ad! This helped in 2007. Then, as now, the idea–from an alert reader, J.R.–was not to convince voters. The idea is to demonstrate to the undecided politicians the sort of devastating ads that might be used against them if they cave on immigration. It’s true that YouTube was newer and scarier back in 2007 than it is now. But the power of social networking is, arguably, more intimidating now than then.
If you are good at this sort of thing–I’m not, but plenty of you are–you can put together a 15, 30, or 60 second ad–post it on YouTube and “share” it on Facebook and Twitter. It’s the “sharing” that will sting. (Also share the link with me–[email protected]. I’ll post links to the best ads in this blog.)
It’s not as if there’s not a lot of ammunition for an effective negative spot: There is Schumer-Rubio’s phony enforcement provisions. The way it would legalize drunk drivers, spouse-beaters and child abusers. The way none of its provisions–to “learn English,” or pay “back taxes” —mean what they say they mean. The way it would drive down unskilled wages, discourage young people (especially minorities) from even entering the labor market, increase welfare payments, and threaten the jobs of even middle class skilled Americans with a huge wave of cheaper immigrant “guestworkers.” (Of course, those American aren’t “star performers,'”so screw ’em!) The way it would prevent the glory of the Clinton years–a tight labor market that raised everyone’s incomes–from ever happening again.
A note on targets: It’s probably useful to distinguish two sorts of targets–senators who’ve more or less committed to the Gang of 8 bill and senators who are still on the fence. The first group (Sen. Kelly Ayotte would be a prime example) needs to be hammered, in large part to show those in the second group the fate that awaits them if they listen to the rich lobbyists pushing for amnesty. But you don’t want to hammer the second group yet–it might piss them off! After they’ve tried so hard to be ambiguous! They need to be pointedly persuaded. (“Senator Pryor, which will it be: American workers or California billionares?” Or something better than that. You get the idea.)
Here is a rough list of senators in the two camps:
Hammer-ready (Have indicated they’ll vote for Schumer-Rubio)
Ayotte (who was spectacularly ignorant of the bill’s provisions)
Begich (already getting testy!)
Landrieu (do it for North Dakota!)
Murkowski (voted against border fence)
Persuadable (Still wavering)
P.S.: Remember–they may have all the big money on their side. But we have voters. And passion. And, now, technology. …