Run! Run! Run!
Run for elective office, that is.
That was the message from immigration reform leaders headquartered in Washington, D.C. to the hundreds who gathered in September for the annual Federation for American Immigration Reform's national advisory board.
The conference's theme was "40 Years of Immigration Chaos: the 1965 Act and the Urgent Agenda for America's Future."
And one speaker after another exhorted the assembled crowd to take the plunge and run for office, any office. We'll only get real change, according to our Beltway beachhead, when we have the right people in the right places—or the ability to threaten the politicians who are there now.
As someone who very recently took that advice—California governor, Recall Election, 2003—I agree.
It can be tough. But—as U.K. Prime Minister Mrs. Thatcher used to say—There Is No Alternative (TINA).
Whatever the personal cost, running for office is the single best way to get our message out. My own candidacy got me onto talk radio, network television news shows and the front page of the Los Angeles Times, The Washington Times and USA Today.
The Sacramento Bee's political columnist Daniel Weintrub spelled out my immigration positions to a tee.
Even Mickey Kaus plugged me.
The immigration reform movement has begun to develop quite a few candidates recently. Many of them—Congressional candidates Matt Throckmorton, Kris Kobach, Vernon Robinson, James Russell, and Randy Graf, gubernatorial candidate Fern Shubert and mayoral candidate Walter Moore—are no strangers to VDARE.COM readers. There will be a slew more of them in 2006.
None have won—yet. (Although immigration reformers did make a difference in the re-election defeat of arch-immigration enthusiast U.S. Senator Spencer Abraham). Of course, that's entirely typical of the beginning stages of a nascent political revolution.
But to give you an example of what will have to be done differently, let's analyze the 2004 Arizona Senate race between incumbent Republican John McCain and his Democratic opponent Stuart Starky.
No state has been more devastated by illegal immigration than Arizona. And, with the possible exception of Edward M. Kennedy, no U.S. Senator has been a greater enabler for open borders than McCain.
In an October pre-election debate against McCain, Starky showed actually some signs of life on the immigration issue.
While Starky still could not by any stretch be called an ideal immigration reform candidate, he did make these points:
At the same time, McCain's immigration platform consisted of these goals:
With Arizona in an apparent uproar over illegal aliens—and actually about to pass Proposition 200—you might accept that out of sheer disgust voters would back Starky on the premise that no one could be worse than McCain.
But that isn't what happened. When the final tally was in, McCain won 77 percent of the vote trouncing Starky who came in a distant second with 20%.
Amazingly—at least to me—McCain won the illegal-alien beleaguered Cochise, Pima and Yuma Counties by stunning margins…75 percent, 73 percent and 75 percent respectively.
Quite obviously, many Arizonans voted for Proposition 200—and McCain.
Why didn't Starky do better?
Well, let me count the ways. He was an inexperienced, Jewish Democrat (note: I'm a Democrat too) in a heavily Republican state.
Some of Starky's other positions couldn't have helped him. He espoused decriminalizing or legalizing marijuana. And Starky favored withdrawing troops from Iraq…an idea not as popular a year ago as it is today.
And, as a primary school teacher, Starky didn't have the major donors behind him that McCain does.
McCain, chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, spent $4.8 million to Starkey's $13,000.
Even I raised more money than Starky!
But while Starky was at a distinct disadvantage no matter how you look at it, the reason he lost was because not enough people voted for him.
I know how absurdly simplistic that sounds. But that's the brutal bottom line. Voters preferred McCain by a ratio of 3-1. (Which means Starky's donors got much better value for their buck—but still…)
In the end, McCain was saved because of party loyalty.
In the end, immigration reformers will have to place immigration reform above party.
I predict that immigration reformers will take a page out of the right-to-life playbook—ironic, because some prominent immigration reformers come out of the population control movement.
Candidates who pledge to end Roe vs. Wade have the automatic support of anti-abortion voters. No other issue exists in their mind.
Their issue doesn't even poll as well as immigration reform. But the right-to-lifers have captured one of the major parties and set American politics on its ear.
The immigration reform community needs to adopt that same single-mindedness.
Repeat after me:
"I don't care what party he represents! I don't care where he stands on other issues! I don't care what his personal background is! I don't even care if he can't win!
"He's not the guy in office. He is the guy who speaks for immigration reform. Therefore, he's the guy for me.
"I'm going to make my vote count—by sending a message!"
Joe Guzzardi [email him], an instructor in English at the Lodi Adult School, has been writing a weekly newspaper column since 1988. This column is exclusive to VDARE.COM.