A pathway to passage for the Gang of 8's pathway to citizenship

Immigration Bill handicapped by poor messaging and ground-game  Photo: Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) surrounded by some of the members of the Gang of Eight AP photo

WASHINGTON, July 12, 2013 — The Gang of Eight’s immigration bill is dying for two reasons. First, it was named by Democrats. Second, nobody is aggressively running TV ads in the districts of Congressmen who don’t support it.

First, the way we know Democrats named this bill is: the title lacks all the rhetorical pyrotechnics evincing a Republican mind. We Republicans were the inventors of going viral— “death panels,” “cut and run,” “tax hikes,” “amnesty,” “PATRIOT ACT,” “Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act,” and “The Reducing Barack Obama’s Unsustainable Deficit Act”  constitute some of our greatest hits.

Yes. That last one was an actual bill.

In fairness, Democrats took the cake one year with Rep. Pete Stark’s1997 “No Private Contracts to Be Negotiated When the Patient Is Buck Naked Act.” Well done, Congressman.

But this immigration bill — its name gives you a Wet Willy in the ear — both its laboriously long official title (“The Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act”), and its colloquially-known street name (“comprehensive immigration reform”) are sorry excuses for bill naming.

A good bill title should cascade off the screen like a shooting star, exploding into a white hot, fiery SuperNova of rhetoric bombast, unleashing a blitzkrieg of adjectives upon the face, browbeating any would-be dissenter into submission.

Some clever programmer should invent a “Bill Title Generator” for members of Congress to keep handy. It would churn out only bill titles that contained at least one of the following words: “patriot,” “children,” “grandmothers,” “Jesus,” “terrorist,” “ice cream,” “crack cocaine,” or “apocalypse.” Whereupon, the Gang of 8 immigration bill would be retitled from “comprehensive immigration reform” to “The Patriots Against Apocalyptic Cocaine Terrorists & In Favor of Immigrants, Grandmothers, and Jesus Act” of 2013.

This would allow one to ask an opponent of the bill, with a straight-face: Ok, which thing are you in favor of: Terrorism? Cocaine? Or the apocalypse? Or are you against Jesus?

After renaming the bill, comes the action. The Chamber of Commerce, Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform, Norm Coleman and Doug Holtz-Eakin’s American Action Forum, Evangelical, Catholic, Jewish and other religious groups, and the American Farm Bureau all support immigration reform. They have the two fundamentals of pressuring Congress to pass any bill: deep pockets and voluminous membership lists.

The Chamber and Farm Bureau should organize a “Week Without Migrant Labor” in districts across America. If they were politically savvy, the Chamber, Farm Bureau, ATF, AAF, and the religious groups would leverage their massive membership lists to advance this cause. They would identify the key40 to 50 Republican House members who could make the difference.

Then they would print up  the template “Dear Congressman…” post cards, having their members — farmers, teachers, business owners, taxpayers of all stripes — flood (literally flood) their Congressmen’s offices with letters urging them to support comprehensive immigration reform. Alongside this, the smart move would be to organize National Call Days where their members call their Congresspeople. (Something these groups already do on all manner of issues from abortion to taxes to card check).

The final phase is the TV ad. Imagine:

The camera pans over lush, rolling fields of greenery. Birds chirp majestically in the background. The camera zooms in on a red pickup truck with a smiling farmer. Children are frolicking with great merriment and gaily chase the truck as it pulls into the town square. The farmer decamps and begins distributing manifold fruits and vegetables to smiling children.

[The screen flushes black-and white. Cue scary music.]

The giant head of Congressman/woman [Insert Name] with red eyeballs bounces across the screen, rolling over the children like bowling pens.

[Insert sinister cackle. Should be ominous.] 

[Cue Announcer]: “Congressman [Insert name] wants to take food out of the mouths of babies. Not just nutritious fruits and vegetables made right here in [insert county name], but also all-American Twinkies and freedom fries made from corn and potatoes picked by undocumented immigrants.

[Cue mom holding soccer ball]: “Congressman, Jesus was an undocumented immigrant, who didn’t speak the language, and so are the people who put food on my children’s table.”

[Cue small girl. 2 pigtails. Missing front teeth. Red, white, and blue bow in hair.]: “Congressman, please don’t vote to take food out of my mouth.”

Announcer: Call your Congressman/woman and tell him/her to vote for the “If You Vote Against This Bill You’re For Children Starving Act” of 2013. [Scroll the Representative’s phone number]


That’s how you pass comprehensive immigr…err, uhm, correction: the NO AMNESTY—New Opportunities And Morally Necessary Earned Status in Ten Years” Act of 2013.

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Charles Badger

Charles Badger has been a columnist for The Washington Times Communities section since 2013. He is a Republican political strategist, speechwriter, and former aide to a Member of Congress, currently working in disaster relief logistics & communications. He holds a B.A. in Philosophy from Berea College.

Contact Charles Badger


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