Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Marco's Misdirection

In 2005 and 2007 grassroots America effectively put the kibosh on Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR) efforts. The capitol switchboard was overwhelmed by calls from concerned citizens contacting their representatives and senators. Capitol offices were inundated with email. The establishment was caught off guard, and even somewhat bewildered. Without an identifiable source of opposition, the pro-amnesty crowd had no expectation of a serious obstacle to their, ostensibly, bi-partisan reform effort. They didn't have a backup plan because they didn't think they needed one; they thought it would sail through without a hitch. Twice they tried, and twice large numbers of concerned citizens rose up, seemingly from nowhere, to tell them "no".

In 2005 and 2007 the conservative winter of discontent had not yet coalesced into the TEA party movement. As grassroots efforts have become more organized, so have the efforts to counter them. The identity that came with the TEA party movement had a good side and a bad side. While it gave the proponents of Americanism ways to identify like groups of constitutionally minded fellow citizens, it also made them easier for the opposition to target. Recent events make it pretty clear that the political establishment has learned from the drubbings it received from grassroots efforts between the first CIR effort in 2005 and the TEA party election cycle in 2010.

We have clearly seen efforts to silence and marginalize TEA party groups through agencies like the IRS or the media. A more novel, and more recent tactic is seen in attempts to co-opt the conservative grassroots. And this is where Marco Rubio and "Americans for a Conservative Direction" come in. It is not coincidental that Marco Rubio is the most visible figure in current CIR efforts. Previous efforts were missing the essential element of a conservative champion, and Rubio's rise to widespread popularity among grassroots conservatives has made him the perfect candidate for the role. Success for the agenda put forth by Marco and his gang of state depends on neutralizing the conservative opposition that caused so much trouble for previous efforts. The opposition can be neutralized in a couple of different ways. If enough conservatives can be convinced that this is truly a conservative solution they can be counted on for support, or at least counted on to not oppose the bill. That wouldn't be a bad thing if it was really a conservative bill.

On the way to work this morning I heard the latest ad from Americans for a Conservative Direction saying how important it is that we join conservatives like Marco Rubio in support of the gang of eight CIR proposal. These ads always seem a little creepy to me. I expect this tactic from the left; If we call a thing by the right name, people will be tricked into supporting it. Or if we repeat a misrepresentation in favor of something often enough, people will be tricked into supporting it. Means to ends. Marco has been making the talk radio and talking head circuit for weeks. With each new appearance he repeats the same debunked talking points that he used before.

Whether it's Marco and Americans for a Conservative Direction, or Karl Rove's Conservative Victory Project, these efforts to transfer the burgeoning influence of the grassroots back to the politicos need to be recognized for what they are. The confusion caused by the adoption of TEA party language, and conservative imagery by those that are not friends to conservatism may limit the effectiveness of the conservative grassroots in applying pressure to Washington, or identifying conservative candidates. It's up to conservatives to make sure that doesn't happen, and to rekindle the energetic opposition that was so crucial to stopping the less sophisticated CIR attempts of the past.

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