The Corner

In Defense of Krikorian . . . and “Elites”

Mark, you do yourself an injustice when you contend that the immigration debate boils down to a struggle between elites (such as myself) and the public (i.e., you). If a couple of years toiling in this field has taught me anything, it is that the elites who favor comprehensive immigration reform are unfocused, divided in their goals, and easily distracted, whereas the elites in the war room you guys put together in 2007 were a paragon of efficiency. Really, Rahm Emanuel should have done it himself, since it resulted in Democratic victories in Florida, the Southwest, and some of the West.

But to your larger point: The pro-amnesty groups have a far more dedicated grass roots than you; and it is indisputably well-populated. In the spring of 2006, following the House passage of H.R. 4437 — the high-water mark of the enforcement effort — over 1.5 million Latinos hit the streets in protest. That’s roughly twice the turnout for our Tea Parties, from a population base roughly 1/7th the size. You’re also not taking into account the large numbers of gringos who disagree with you because they empathize with Latinos, illegals, or both — guys like the young soldier whose views are expressed here.

And, although this may surprise you, the hundreds of business lobbyists for comprehensive immigration reform get their instructions from the boards that their member-firms elect, not from the Bilderbergers in Zurich.

What supporters of comprehensive reform lack is not a committed grass roots, but bold elite leaders.

The brilliantly organized, politically suicidal war room that spiked GOP voter concern over illegals from 7th place on the list of concerns — behind the economy, spending, taxes, abortion, education, and health care — to 2nd place in the summer of 2007 was a perfect example of how conservative elites can move an issue. I could quote Saul Alinsky, but since we’re all conservatives here, let me cite the late Paul Weyrich instead:

It is a mistake to think that any movement will just ‘happen’ on a bottom-up basis.  For the most part, your troops will be asking you, “what should we do?”

The Next Conservatism, #47

Of course, the war room couldn’t be sustained. Your allies just aren’t as invested as you are, Mark. By the time the November election rolled around, “illegal immigration” was right back in seventh place — a third-rate voting issue, rather like “term limits.” In the leadup to the election, Mark, you were warning politicians that they ignored illegal immigration at their peril. In its wake, you were publishing studies explaining why it was a non-issue.


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