The New York City Mosque and Anchor Babies
First of all, wedge issues are emotional in appeal. They bypass the cognitive function of the brain and go right to a subconscious emotional response. Name any Republican wedge issue from immigration, to abortion, to gay marriage, to flag burning — not to mention the granddaddy of them all: “the war on terrorism” and FEAR — and you run head into an emotional, not a reasoned, hook.
In short, the Republicans are tremendously skilled at employing the art of the demagogue to get Americans — around half at any given time — to avoid reasoned discussion of public policy. They do this by appealing to emotional, instinctual reactions that are not processed through a thoughtful process. It’s called pressing a hot button.
Second of all, the Republicans use wedge issues to, essentially, pickpocket the American public and dismantle the American government.
While they have the public and the media distracted with red hot emotional topics, they go off and make the wealthy wealthier, increase our national debt, dismantle the Constitution, and take away government social services. Wedge issues are a powerful distraction — and allow the right wing to accomplish their goals while the public is preoccupied with some trumped up emotional issue that the Busheviks could care less about.
Finally, wedge issues are a tremendous fundraising tool for the right wing. In fact, the campaigns of right wing candidates were financed by the money generated by right wing wedge issue direct mail. Richard Viguerie was the guru who started the direct mail juggernaut for GOP candidates — and organizations — and he’s still going strong. It shouldn’t be forgotten that Rove came to the fore in Texas politics as a direct mail consultant.
In short, wedge issues that press the hot buttons of right wing donors sell big time. We heard Viguerie speak recently and he referred to “pre-sold” wedge issues. In essence, these are topics like “gay marriage,” “abortion,” and “war on terror” that you include in the first sentence of a GOP direct mail piece and you are guaranteed a good response because they have such visceral impact on Stepford GOP followers.
Progressives and Democrats have far fewer “pre-sold” appeals — except for the mention of Bush and Cheney — because progressives and Democrats think more before acting. That may sound snobbish, but it’s true from a direct mail perspective.
Basically, the Republican “rule by emotional appeal” boils down to a big brother elitism whose message to Americans is simply this: “Don’t think. We’ll do the thinking for you. Just follow.”
Thanks to Eleanor Clift and Newsweek for the following.
If the voters fault President Obama for dropping the ball on job creation and spending too much time on passing health-care and financial-services reform, what will they make of Republican efforts to gin up a debate about the 14th Amendment and the constitutionality of awarding citizenship to babies born on American soil to illegal immigrants? Feckless is the word that comes to mind. With voters wanting elected leaders to chart a path out of the economic doldrums, an effort to inflame passions about so-called anchor babies looks like another one of those wedge issues that Republicans are so good at finding every election season.
At a breakfast with Republican leader Mitch McConnell organized by The Christian Science Monitor, the issue of the GOP’s intentions came up in an exchange with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Cynthia Tucker, who prefaced her question by noting that she grew up in Alabama in the era of Jim Crow and that African-Americans view the 14th Amendment’s extension of equal-rights protection as the Republicans’ greatest achievement. With Republicans talking about congressional hearings to examine the 14th Amendment, Tucker wanted to know if the debate would end there, or do hearings suggest there is something wrong with the amendment that must be addressed?
McConnell defended the idea of holding hearings to examine what he called “a burgeoning and unseemly business” of illegal immigrants flying to the United States to give birth and then getting back on the plane confident their newborn is a U.S. citizen. There is an industry of travel agencies and hotel chains catering to “baby tourists,” according to a report on ABC, but they cater to high-end moms with packages that cost ,000, and they don’t constitute a widespread or worrisome phenomenon. If these babies are meant to anchor a spot in the U.S. for their parents, the child would first have to reach age 21, which is really planning ahead. These aren’t the folks Republican Sen. Lindsay Graham and others who first raised this issue have in mind.
They’re aiming their divisive rhetoric at the babies born to illegal immigrants, mostly from Mexico, who are already in the country and whose children are American citizens, thanks to the 14th Amendment. It is the latest iteration of the anti-Hispanic sentiment that has gotten the GOP into political trouble in California and elsewhere with this fastest-growing segment of the population. It also speaks volumes about what the GOP thinks of its prospects for getting African-American votes, since the 14th Amendment is sacrosanct to them.
Narrowing the discussion to “birth tourists” is McConnell’s effort to pull his party back from the precipice where Republicans further alienate Hispanic voters. This is “base talk,” says Simon Rosenberg, an immigration expert with NDN, the New Democrat Network. Republican primary voters care a lot about immigration, but it’s not a voting issue for the broader public in an election where jobs are the priority. Besides, he says, Republicans are already so motivated to vote this November “it’s like pouring a gallon of fuel on a massive fire.”
McConnell in person comes across as far more reasonable and analytical than the pursed-lipped leader of the Party of No who appears on television. When he mentioned that he had met with President Obama on Wednesday at the White House to discuss possible areas of agreement, a reporter asked why it took so long for the two men to get together. McConnell pointed out that when Obama took office he was sitting on 70 percent approval, a 40-seat House majority, and he was on his way to 60 votes in the Senate. “He felt he didn’t need us, and I don’t fault him for that,” McConnell said. But with Republicans poised to pick up a significant number of seats in November, there will be a midcourse correction, he said. “The president is a really smart guy, and he figures he’s going to see a lot more of me,” McConnell smiled, anticipating a Senate more evenly balanced, perhaps 55 to 45 instead of the current 59 to 41.
If Obama wants to pass anything, he’ll have to strike bipartisan deals that are center-right, McConnell said, adding that he hopes Obama will become a “born-again moderate” in the mold of President Clinton after Democrats lost the House and Senate in ’94, prompting Clinton to declare in January ’95, “The era of big government is over.” Areas of agreement McConnell said he discussed with Obama are enough to make liberals wonder who’s really president: trade deals with Colombia, Panama, and Peru; nuclear power; electrification of cars and trucks (that one’s OK); and of course, that golden oldie, keeping the Bush tax cuts for the top 2 percent of wage earners in place.
What about immigration reform? Except for more border security, the debate is frozen, McConnell said. And good thing too, because hearings on possible abuses of the 14th Amendment really don’t fit the GOP message for the midterm election, which McConnell sums up as spending, debt, and big-government takeovers. He knows Republicans stand to lose far more than they can gain if they get swept up in an effort to disenfranchise babies.
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